PM Barrow said that the principals of the company are made up of “a stellar roster of PUPs,” but it is good for the country.
BELMOPAN, Fri. Aug. 16, 2019– An important piece of legislation that made its way through the House of Representatives today was the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Project Bill, which will give legal status to the Belize National Gas Company that government is banking on to bring about a reduction in the price consumers pay for LPG (butane gas).
Presently, Belizeans get their supply of butane gas from a group of Mexican companies which have control of that particular market.
The Belize National Gas Company will be a public/private company which will initially be licensed for 15 years to provide butane to consumers.
This initiative, however, is not without criticism from the Opposition People’s United Party. The PUP’s National Deputy Leader, Hon. Cordel Hyde, Lake Independence area representative, characterized the Belize National Gas Company as “a monopoly.”
Hon. Hyde told the House, “I think essentially, what they are doing with this bill is establishing a monopoly, and as captive a market as there is, eighty-three percent of all households use butane. It’s as essential as water, as toilet paper, as pack bread. I see there is some guarantee of a rate of return to the investors.
“I would have wanted to see a guarantee in terms of a commitment to the people that the cost of butane would be less. I don’t see that in this.”
Prime Minister Barrow told the House that the principals of the company are made up of “a stellar roster of PUPs who have chartered this project and who have come to us for support.”
“I don’t know about a UDP, so I think you need to be careful in terms of how you try to throw stones. You talk about it being a monopoly; it will have the monopoly in terms of the importation, but how is that not better than the current situation where there is an oligopoly and where basically, it is one Mexican common denominator that owns all the principal retailers or certainly, the wholesalers,” PM Barrow countered.
“This will ensure that it is a Belizean concern, a public/private company that will have the exclusivity in terms of the importation. We, the government, whichever government, will be on board to ensure that in fact, it is brought in, in a way that we will see what is happening to us,” Prime Minister Barrow went on to say.
“So this, if it does nothing else, takes us out of that stranglehold that these foreigners have on not just government, but on the people of this country,” he noted.
“And absolutely, with this National Gas Company, you will see a lowering of prices to the consumer. If you want to get political, it is controlled by principals, huge personalities of the People’s United Party. We have looked well past color because we think it is in the national interest, in the interest of the consumers,” PM Barrow said.
The Belize National Gas Company will be made up of five directors and alternate directors. Those whose names have been mentioned are Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight; Gilbert Canton; Brad Freking; Marion Usher and Michael Bowen.