Had Kaieteur News not gotten its facts a little mixed up in reporting the payments GT&T makes to the Office of the President (OP), the details of this hitherto secret agreement struck between GT&T and the Desmond Hoyte-led PNC Government in 1990/1991 probably would never have seen the light of day in the public domain.
For even though the agreement has been part of public record, as GT&T pointed out, not everything in public record is available for public viewing, especially given the highly secretive nature of this government deeply mired in corruption.
Mr. Editor, I really don’t know what the relevant Minister’s motive was in 1991 asking GT&T to pay 0.1% of revenues as licensing fees to his ministry, but since GT&T was already on the hook to pay taxes to the government in 1991, it would have made sense and assure transparency if the Hoyte Administration had GT&T pay its licensing fees to the Finance Ministry instead.
Interestingly enough, while we read that GT&T started paying its 0.1% after the PNC was voted out of office in 1992, we have not read where the payments of government’s 20% shares ended up for 11 years from 1992 to 2003, the year when GT&T started paying government’s 20% dividends to NICIL.
Can GT&T say where it remitted these dividend payments to for 11 years? Can the government say where the paid GT&T dividends went from 1992 to 2003 and why the decision was made for the dividends to be paid to NICIL?
Moreover, what I find rather intriguing was the decision in 2008 to take the Telecommunications portfolio from under Prime Minister Sam Hinds and place it under Office of the President, five years after GT&T started paying the 0.1% to NICIL.
I am confident that that money would have been safer under Mr. Hinds, as long as it was reported annually to the Auditor-General, but now that OP has said the money went straight to the Consolidated Fund, did any of the Auditor-General’s reports from 1992 onward ever mention the GT&T annual payments?
If the AG’s reports never mentioned these annual payments, then why was information omitted or withheld from the AG each time his office audited OP? And how do we know for sure that the monies from GT&T actually wound up in the CF?
To be rather candid, I really cannot see the GT&T payments being mentioned in the AG’s annual reports and Kaieteur News completely missed them in its initial news report about the GT&T payments to OP.
Anyway, according to another Kaieteur News story, “GT&T yields $25B to coffers in seven years,” (October 10), the cash cow GT&T actually paid the Government of Guyana between 45% and 48% of its revenues in taxes($22B between 2004 and 2009). And apart from paying the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) a $25M regulatory fee, GT&T also paid NICIL government’s 20% shares in GT&T ($4.5B between 2003 and 2009), and the Ministry (OP) 0.1% per annum (US$271,000 between 2008 and 2010).
Now, is it just me or has anyone else noticed that since NICIL and the Ministry fall under OP that GT&T has been paying two sets of money into OP? And even though OP said the licensing fees go directly to the Consolidated Fund, this Fund continues to come under grave scrutiny by the Auditor-General about monies that are supposed to be paid into the Fund but are not.
For example, the Lotto Funds, which Article 216 (a law) says should be placed into the CF, have not been placed into the Fund, but have been spent without Parliamentary approval. And then there is the state-run NICIL, which, according to one analysis, has not been audited for several years, appears not to be compliance with the Companies Act, and has failed to place monies it received into the CF.
Also, in one of the AG’s most recent reports, $35B was found in an account that was not supposed to exist. Monies collected from foreign embassies/consulates were also reportedly sitting in another special account, which should not be. Even the President reportedly expressed surprise when asked about monies from OP turning up in a new account at a Georgetown-based foreign-owned bank. How can this government ever be trusted to come clean?
There obviously is way too much money floating around in the government that allows for a lot of free spending with no proper accounting. Where did the government find US$15M to give Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall? Where will the government find US$20M to help launch construction of the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown?
Where will the government find US$30M (and who will get the contract) to buy laptops for Guyanese? And if it hasn’t already, then where will the government find millions (US$37M?) to buy fibre optic cable from Brazil (and who will get the contract for the new state-backed Call Centre)?
There is a lot of secret (perhaps illegal) stuff going on in this government that needs to be exposed, and I hope we have brave whistleblowers in the government who will step up and do right by their fellow Guyanese the same way someone bravely exposed the GT&T-OP ‘secret’ payments, even if all the facts don’t come out the first time.
Finally, I understand that GT&T employees are bidding for the 20% shares government is divesting itself of, and I hope they get it. By the way, does anyone know what happened to the 10% shares reserved for New GPC employees in their company at the time the company was purchased from the state by Queens Atlantic II?
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