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SMART: GOB should not be biased towards BTL

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

Speed Net Telecommunication Limited (SMART) has emerged to defend its position amid the controversial telecommunication switch that has been brewing for weeks, claiming that the company had simply outbid Belize Telecommunication Limited (BTL) in the process by offering better prices and coverage.

On Wednesday afternoon the company issued a press release stating that the Government is entitled to secure the best telecommunications services it can get at the best prices. The company rejected any claims that certain Government ministries have been instructed to switch their telecommunication provider to SMART simply because the company is owned and operated by relatives of the Prime Minister.

“Smart, like the general public, is aware of a directive from GOB for Ministries to institute cost-saving measures. To this end, GOB has taken the approach of accepting the best offer for the provision of services, taking into consideration price, quality, and range of services. As a result, BTL, and Smart can now pursue government business by way of tenders,” SMART noted in its release.

The company then went on to say that the proposals from SMART have now allowed the Ministries for the first time in many years to compare alternative proposals that result in considerable savings on their telecom bills. The new approach, according to SMART, has allowed GOB to lower their cost, assist GOB to avoid waste, and fund other operational activities including personnel.

The Company also argued that under the Telecommunications Act both companies have the same rights and obligations, under their licenses to maintain nationwide telecommunication infrastructure. On the other hand, SMART says that the GOB is required to represent all persons in Belize equally without discrimination, while the constitution requires that government implement policies that eliminate economic privilege and disparity.

“The Government is by far the largest consumer of telecommunication services in the country, and if it were to show bias by excluding SMART from being able to provide it with services, it would distort the telecommunication market and reduce the ability of smart to compete fairly.”

In short, the company ended by saying that they simply seek a level playing field, something which they say has been grossly absent in the past, as it relates to GOB business.

For context, as we had reported last week the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour, and Local Government had switched their services from BTL to SMART post-paid numbers. CEO Valentino Shal at the time had stated that it was part of the ministry’s cost-saving measures while BTL had argued that they were not properly consulted on the matter.

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