This past week the Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, tabled a resolution in the House of Assembly to complete the privatisation of the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation, BaTelCo. Debate on the resolution is expected to commence on July 15.
At that time, he confirmed that the Government was reviewing the privatisation process, and was expected to sign new contracts to renew the primary consultancy arrangements. Deutsche Bank and Ernst & Young have formed a consultancy partnership to work on behalf of the Bahamas Government in this process.
The Government has announced that it plans to launch the privatisation process in October, and in order to do so, must obtain House approval for the vesting orders for the disposition of BaTelCo’s assets, property, rights and liabilities in the new Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) established for this purpose. This also is essential for the transfer of shares to a strategic partner. Any interim licence and tier structure to be given to the new entity on an interim basis will be replaced by a final licence and new tier structure agreed between the Government and whichever entity purchases interest in the shares to become available in the new company, i.e. the strategic partner. It is anticipated that the partner selected will have 49% ownership of the company, along with the right of management.
The PLP Government while in Opposition committed to ensuring that Bahamians will be given full opportunity to participate in the privatisation process, and in the equity and ownership of the BTC.
In the 2002/2003 Budget Communication to the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Christie pointed out that a major component of the Government’s economic diversification drive will be the implementation of the enabling framework for e-commerce. He said this would require state-of-art telecommunications and *”in that regard, my Government will be moving most expeditiously to privatise BaTelCo.”* With an October launch date, it is anticipated the privatisation should be completed in the first months of 2003.