Nearly two years after the government signed an agreement with Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) for the Bahamian people to regain just under two percent of shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), Prime Minister Perry Christie has yet to table that memorandum of understanding in Parliament despite repeated pronouncements that he would do so.
The details of the deal remain shrouded in secrecy.
Many critics dismissed the deal as a face-saving agreement, saying it does not result in Bahamians regaining control of BTC — something Christie promised ahead of the last general election.
Others have suggested a side deal may have been struck with CWC, though government officials have denied this.
Christie has stated nothing was paid for the shares.
CWC bought 51 percent of BTC’s shared in 2011.
After coming to office, Christie appointed a committee headed by businessman Franklyn Wilson to negotiate the take back of two percent of the shares.
The BTC deal was first announced in January 2014.
Under the terms of the deal, CWC committed to transfer $5,930,200 worth of shares to the government to be held in trust for the Bahamian people.
Those funds were to be placed in the BTC Foundation.
During a ceremony at Balmoral in August 2014, CWC CEO Phil Bentley and Christie announced the long-awaited the long-awaited BTC deal was finalized and the BTC Foundation was established.
CWC officials also presented the government with a $1 million check for the foundation.
At the time, Christie recommitted to tabling the MOU in Parliament.
He said this would serve as “evidence for the Bahamian people that the deal has been done”.
In March 2015, Christie was reminded about his commitment.
“In fact, I am glad you reminded me,” he said, but failed to provide a timeline on when it would happen.
Since then, the government has issued another mobile cellular license to NewCo, of which Cable Bahamas is a 48.25 percent shareholder and has board and management control.
A special purpose holding company set up by and currently wholly owned by the government, HoldingCo, will own the remaining 51.75 percent of the shares of NewCo.
As part of its two-year rollout obligation to provide full coverage to 18 inhabited islands, NewCo has the opportunity in the interim to use BTC’s equipment.