BELIZE CITY–In its 5th consecutive year as a state-owned telecommunications company, the Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) is announcing a 7% decline in net profits, from $21 million to $19.6 million against a marginal fall in gross revenues from $143.8 million to $142.6 million, for the 12 months ending March 31, 2014. Earnings per share have consequently decreased from 0.42 cents per share to 0.40 cents.
At its Annual General Meeting tonight, the company announced that shareholders would be paid a 4.8% return on shares, as opposed to 5% last year.
The company has not yet indicated how much dividends it will pay to shareholders, but the bulk will be paid to the Government of Belize.
As of March 31, 2014, the Government of Belize holds approximately 63% of the total outstanding shares in BTL. The Government of Belize acquired 94.5% shareholding in the company in August 2009. The following October, it divested itself of a minority of those shares in a public offering.
For its part, BTL said that it was “a solid year of development” and it was able to grow its market share of broadband with 3,900 additional customers, representing growth of 24%.
The company reports that, “mobile data revenues almost doubled over the past year due to substantial uptake of the 4G Data plans and increased usage.” However, internet revenues have declined, according to BTL.
“As a result of price reductions and the doubling of internet speeds, internet and data revenues decreased by 1.4% over the past year,” the company reported.
In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow announced that he had just signed a statutory instrument which puts internet services in the category of zero-rated items for the purposes of General Sales Tax (GST), rather than GST exempt.
“This will allow all internet service providers to charge even less; and in the case of BTL as of October 1, customers will begin to get double the bandwidth for the same price. Of course, GOB takes a revenue loss in consequence,” Barrow said.
BTL announced that for the last financial year, core telecom revenues remained mostly flat, ending at $136.1 million, compared to $136.2 million the year before—a direct result of reduced usage from fixed line customers and a decrease in international settlements and international long distance calls.
“International roaming revenue, which over the past years has seen steady increases, was impacted adversely this year due to reduction in rates stipulated by our largest foreign operator,” the company also announced.
It said that international roaming revenue fell by 20%, contrasting with a 5.8% decrease in the previous year.
Furthermore, the company reports that international settlements decreased by 15%, as a direct result of a 23% reduction in traffic.
“The combined impact of changes in the various revenue streams resulted in gross revenues decreasing by $1.2 million or 1% to $142.6 million from $143.8 million as compared to the previous financial year,” the company said.
Meanwhile, shareholders’ equity increased by 3% to $260.3 million, representing an increase of $7.2 million from $253 million after inflows from profits and declaring dividends.
BTL’s external auditor is Pannell Kerr Foster, who prepared the financial reports. The director’s report was prepared by Vanessa Retreage, BTL board secretary.
(Photo: Felene Swaso)