“At no time during the PPP/C administration has GT&T gifted any monies whatsoever to OP,” a statement from the Office of the President indicated yesterday. The statement came in response to an article published in the Sunday’s Edition of this newspaper under the headline ‘In excess of US$50 million gifted to OP’.
According to the statement, the article falsely claims that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Co. Ltd. (GT&T) has gifted part of its revenue amounting to in excess of US$50M to OP between the period 1999 and 2009. According to the statement “The Office of the President strongly condemns the publication of certain gross untruths and malicious, fabricated assertions that were contained in the article…”
It was further asserted in the statement that the only monies that have been collected by OP from GT&T have been sums that are due under the Law namely, Licence Fees payable under the Operating Licence granted to GT&T in 1990 under the Telecommunications Act, 1990 (No. 27 of 1990).
The Licence Fees as stipulated in the GT&T Operating Licence is fixed at a rate of 0.1 percent of the gross revenues of GT&T based on the Company’s revenues for the preceding year of operation and is payable at the beginning of each year. Such Licence Fees have been paid to the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Public Works and Communications for the period 1991 to 2007 and to the OP with effect from 2008, consequent upon the reversion of portfolio responsibility for the telecommunications sector to OP.
Such Licence Fees received by OP for the period 2008 to 2010 have approximated US$271,000 all of which has been paid into the Consolidated Fund as is required by the Law.
The statement further chided this newspaper for what was described as “irresponsible publication of such specious, baseless statements and blatant lies under the guise of journalism. The blatant lies published by Kaieteur News cast serious aspersions on the professional conduct and ethics of GT&T, a significant member of the private sector of Guyana as well as on OP and the Government of Guyana.”
Efforts were also made to criticize this newspaper for “engaging in irresponsible, reprehensible and unprofessional conduct that appears calculated to damage and undermine the private sector and investment climate in Guyana and thwart the economic development of the country and is as such tantamount to a grossly unpatriotic act.”
This newspaper in its Tuesday edition had sought to remedy the misconceptions which were detailed in the article through the person of GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Yog Mahadeo.
Mahadeo had related that while the company makes a mandatory payment of 0.1 percent of its annual gross revenues to OP it is not a gift to but rather a contractual obligation. “This annual fee has been paid every year since 1992,” he added.
GT&T, according to Mahadeo, is required to pay an annual fee to the Government of Guyana.
He explained that the Licence directs GT&T to pay the annual fee to the “Minister assigned responsibility for telecommunications, on behalf of the Government.” According to him, too, for many years GT&T paid the annual fee to the Ministry of Public Works as the Ministry with responsibility for telecommunications under Prime Minister Samuel Hinds.
However, this changed in 2008 when President Bharrat Jagdeo assumed the portfolio of the Minister of Telecommunications. Mahadeo further stressed that at no time has GT&T paid this annual fee, nor any other sum, “to any specific person(s) in or associated with the Office of the President.”
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