Former President Bharrat Jagdeo, through his actions, deliberately stalled Guyana’s technological development by more than four years.
Industry experts have opined that had he made use of the advanced facility Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) – which in 2010 already had the high speed fibre optic cable in place – Guyana would have been on par with the rest of the Caribbean. The GT&T cable has the capacity to service the demands of Guyana and five other countries like it.
There was consensus that all major Government facilities would have been connected via fibre optic. The plans to enhance the public service operations would have been in place.
A range of services such as “E-Health” allowing for video consultation, movement of information from one health centre to another and tracking disease outbreaks would have made life for the medical personnel much easier.
Regarding security, there would have been quick transmission of information including video and data between police stations with an enhanced database.
The police would have been better informed, able to conduct speedy background checks, monitor people, vehicles and police operations. It could have realized a faster implementation of surveillance mechanisms across the country, using cameras.
In education, the project would set up an “E-library” which would allow for access to textbooks and other teaching aids that can be used by students and schools, countrywide, thereby lowering cost.
Things like birth certificate processing and other technological advancements would have already been taken to another level.
This publication was told that had Jagdeo used the GT&T cable, all of the now delayed promises would have already been a reality. Instead he intended to dominate the telecommunication landscape and in the process pushed Guyana into backwardness.
When he announced that the government would be bringing in its own cable at a cost of US$32 million from Brazil his aim was to help his friends and family to position themselves to take over the telecommunications market. He told the nation that the Brazil cable was not to compete with GT&T, but rather to supplement it.
At the same time, he was secretly negotiating with the Chinese company, Huawei, to install another cable, this time hidden in the Guyana Power and Light’s transmission line that ran from Charity on the Essequibo Coast, to Parika, along West Demerara to Georgetown and on to Moleson Creek, Berbice.
This project cost Guyana in excess of a further US$42 million. It was to connect with the fibre optic cable from Brazil to create the communication network that Jagdeo said was to be the government’s E-government programme.
Guyana only learnt about the Huawei cable through a question asked at a public session hosted by GPL and the Public Utilities Commission at Tower Hotel.
Recent revelations by this publication clearly spelt out why the former President Jagdeo would have insisted on not using the telephone company’s offer, instead opting for an independent cable.
On Sunday last, Kaieteur News reported extensively on how Jagdeo invested $20B from the national coffers to benefit himself and a few companies closely aligned to him.
He had called in all operators of Cable Television across the country and halted their operations.
Included in the group was one operator who is also providing wireless internet service, Vishok Persaud’s E-Networks.
A reprieve was granted to the operators, but with the condition that they do not expand their operations. E-Networks was however allowed to expand its services countrywide.
As it relates to the telecommunications aspect of the industry, the Jagdeo administration then crafted a piece of legislation in which specially selected companies would automatically be handed a Telecommunications Licence.
Two of those companies are E-Networks and Quark Communications Inc. E-Networks has as its shareholders, Vishok Persaud and his sister Member of Parliament, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, both the children of former PPP Minister, the late Reepu Daman Persaud; Keith Evelyn (Brassington’s partner in Hand in Hand Trust) and Director Rakesh Puri.
Quark Communications has as its shareholders Jagdeo’s niece, Subrina Singh, Brassington and Brian Yong, a close friend of the former President.
Quark has its base of operations in a compound at Versailles, West Bank Demerara, which belongs to none other than Jagdeo’s best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop.
Another private company slated to be handed a Telecommunications Licence is iNet Communications Inc. This company has as its principals, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop; his secretary Valerie Khan; and one of his Directors, Roopnarine Ramcharitar, among others.
With a Telecommunications Licence and an extensive network put in place by these companies, when the Government’s fibre optic cable is operationalised these companies would be in a position to capitalise and monopolise the industry.
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