The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company’s parent company has rejected the offer to buy Government’s 20 percent shares in the telephone company.
A source yesterday stated that Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) at its recent Board of Directors meeting declined to purchase the shares.
Last year government collected $1.5B in taxes from the company and $265M in dividends.
The Office of the President subsequently stated that to support the decision to dispose of the minority shareholding has been the fact that the shareholder has consistently been prevented from exercising any influence whatsoever on the affairs of the company.
According to the statement, since 1991, the minority shareholder received zero dividend payment until the year 2000 and since then the annual amount has fluctuated from US$1M to US$4M, while the company has been reporting skyrocketing profits over the same time.
Head of the Privatization Unit, Winston Brassington, during an interview with this newspaper on May 8 last, stated that the telephone company’s financial status is excellent, making it a prime time to sell its shares.
“We are hoping to get a very good value…You value your share based on how much money you can make…I do not believe that any other company in Guyana is doing as well as GT&T,” Brassington had said.
He had stressed that the administration will not ‘give away’ or sell its shares ‘cheaply.’
Only last week a disagreement erupted, between the present administration and the main opposition, the People’s National Congress Reform, over the decision to sell the minority shares.
Last Friday, the Office of the President issued a statement announcing that available records would support the decision of the Government to dispose of the shares as financial returns are ‘miserably poor’ based on the dividend payment received over time.
However, the opposition is calling for an investigation behind the reason why the Government wants to sell its shares in the company.
The Opposition is contending that the real motive behind the selling of these shares is intended to ‘benefit the friends and supporters of the PPP’.
During a press conference on Friday last the PNCR called for workers of GT&T to be afforded the first option to buy the shares.
According to PNCR Vice Chairman, Basil Williams, the party would insist on this position and oppose any attempt to deny the workers of the company the right to own those shares.
“It is the workers of GT&T who have made that company into an effective and efficient organization. They should be given some preference over the political hangers-on’s and favoured supporters of the PPP.”
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