Aug 04, 2010 News
Sale of Govt. shares in GT&T…
– Robert Corbin
While the opposition parties have long questioned Government’s rationale behind a move to sell the 20 per cent shares it owns in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin says that blocking the sale is unlikely.
Corbin said that the move has even been ventilated in the highest forum of the land, namely the Parliament, but their motion was defeated. He further stated that it is not a matter where they could move to the courts since nothing illegal was being done.
Corbin however emphasised that this type of action (the selling of the shares) deserves petitions and protests, but in Guyana there would have to be a change in administration to curb such practices.
He opined that the Government was illustrating a high level of ‘double standards’ citing the fact that they were selling off a steady source of earning, coupled with the fact that they will be investing in the questionable Marriott-branded Hotel.
The Opposition Leader said that if the Government persists with the sale then the shares should not be sold ‘en bloc’ but rather must be made available to the workers of the company or the union.
He said that the workers would not be able to compete with some private firms or individuals.
Corbin noted that when the workers have had an option to buy in on some of the shares then the remainder could be offered up to the public.
During the parliamentary debate it was argued that Guyana has benefited from the operations of the telephone company to the tune of millions of dollars by way of dividends.
It was also argued that the 20 per cent ownership in GT&T did not in any way inhibit or prevent the Guyana Government from permitting other telecommunication and internet operators from doing business in Guyana, as is evident from the continued operation of Digicel for several years now.
The PNCR’s motion had failed to have the National Assembly call on the Government to suspend the decision to dispose of its 20 per cent shareholding in GT&T until the review is completed by the appointed professional group.
Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram told this newspaper that while the rationale behind the President’s utterances as it relates to the government’s intention to sell the shares is difficult to discern, he hopes that the money is placed into the Consolidated Fund.
Ram said that he could not speak in depth as it relates to the sale as it is unclear what the Government intends to do with the money.
The Government by way of a Request for Proposal has commenced the process for the sale of the shares.
The Privatisation Unit, as agent for the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited/Government of Guyana, on Sunday last signaled that it is currently requesting proposals from firms or individual interested in buying the shares ‘en bloc.’
The deadline stipulated by the Privatisation Unit is 14:00hrs on September 24.
In the invitation for proposals as advertised by the Privatisation Unit, it is pointed out that interested persons must register with that entity after payment of a $15,000 fee.
Once this requirement is met, the interested party will be provided with;
– A Request For Proposal (RFP) document
– An Information Memorandum containing general information of the company
– A copy of the advertisement (requesting proposal);
– A draft sale agreement.
In the last line of the advertisement, in a shaded block, it states, “GOG/PU/NICIL is not bound to accept the highest offer and/or proposal.”
GT&T’s parent company has already rejected the offer to buy Government’s 20 per cent shares in the telephone company.
Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) reached the decision at a Board of Directors meeting.
PSC ‘very unhappy’ with garbage situation
Head of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Ramesh Dookhoo, says that the entity has offered the Mayor and City Council any assistance it can render to mitigate the garbage issues facing the city. He said on the Commission’s behalf, “We are very unhappy with the situation.”
The offer came out of a series of meetings that were conducted between key players in the Private Sector organizations and the Mayor and City Council over the past few days.
The Private Sector was represented by Dookhoo, along with Captain Gerry Gouveia, Chairman of the PSC’s Governance Committee, Paul Stephenson, head of the Guyana Tourism Authority, and Komal Ramnauth, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others.
He said that the members of the panel that met with the Mayor were “brutally frank” with reference to expectations that they had of the council which were currently not being met. The conditions of the city are affecting all aspects of trade and commerce, and according to Dookhoo, the tourism sector is particularly vulnerable to the effects of the garbage crisis.
The Private Sector representatives told the Mayor and City Council that they were willing to take up any responsibility and assist wherever needed. They offered ‘management support’ according to Dookhoo, and eventually mobilized a number of trucks and drivers, which they put at the disposal of the City Council. The Council was then responsible for supplying the trucks with workers who would head out into the city to take care of garbage collection.
Dookhoo also indicated that the Private Sector organsations were also trying to recruit other members of the sector to come aboard and offer their assistance as well.
Captian Gerald Gouveia said that they approached the two major private garbage collectors, Cevon’s Waste Management and Puran Brothers, and urged them to go back to work for the city. He said that although they were both having trouble as a result of not getting paid they had a responsibility as well to maintain the state of the city. He noted that the waste collectors seem to be considering it.
According to Gouveia, the panel also met with the Ministry of Local Government on Friday last, and among other things, told them just how much of an indictment it was on them, the Government and the City Council, to have let the city sink into such a state.
Gouveia said that he told the persons gathered at the meeting that indulging in the blame game was not changing the facts of the current state of the city. He also said that the members of these bodies have a responsibility to ensure the city’s cleanliness and wellbeing.
Pointing to the impact on tourism, Gouveia noted that every single day the flights to Guyana are booked solid and large numbers of people are entering the country for the first time or visiting their homeland. To have them see the city in this state, he said, would indeed be shameful.
Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green said that they were very grateful for the sector’s assistance and in his opinion it “… seemed as if things were happening”. He also said that he believes that more garbage is coming into the city from outside the city limits, thereby adding to the issues already being experienced therein.
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