Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, condemned in harsh terms, recent articles carried by Kaieteur
News (KN) and Stabroek News (SN) on the Brazil to Guyana fibre optic cable project and Government’s latest “sweetheart” deal with a construction company to revitalize the cable.
At his press conference which was hosted at the Office of the President, yesterday, Dr. Luncheon said that he hesitated to respond to the “outrageous and scandalous” reporting by KN and SN over recent times, particularly since the start of the week, concerning the government controlled projects in the ICT sector.
He said that of concern to government is the depth to which the two privately owned newspapers have “descended in efforts to discredit” the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C).
The Head of the Presidential Secretariat said that what both of the entities reported over the last few days on the fibre optic cable project are not only erroneous but can be contradicted by stories which were done in earlier times on the said project, by both media houses.
His first bone of contention was a headline carried in yesterday’s issue of this newspaper, “Gov’t. gifts US$40M Brazil fibre optic cable to contractor.” He said that this contradicted statements in an earlier interview Kaieteur News conducted with the Head of the E-Governance Project, Alexei Ramotar.
He said that Ramotar had said that only US$4.5M was expended for the procurement and laying of the cable from Brazil to Guyana.
However, companies that were asked by the government for quotations to repair the US$5 million damaged cable quoted prices as low as US$20 million and as much as US$30 million, according to
Yesterday, Kaieteur News reported on the contract signed between the government and Dax Contracting Services. Dr. Luncheon challenged sections of the contract. He also declined to answer questions on certain aspects, promising instead to deal with the matter by way of advertisements.
However, reporters insisted that he hold a press conference devoted specially to the Brazil fibre optic cable project.
The Cabinet Secretary was particularly perturbed about the “scandalous” contentions about the contract government entered into with Dax Contracting Services.
He said that the articles on the agreement are not only “incredulous” but prove that there is an agenda by both media outfits to tarnish the reputation of the government during this period of election campaigning.
Kaieteur News reported yesterday that government granted tax exemptions, incentives, tax holidays, remissions and duty free concessions on vehicles.
This information was obtained from a copy of the contract between Government and Dax Contracting Services owned by Faisal Mohamed on March 16, last. This same contracting service owned by Mohamed was one of the five contractors hired to lay the cable from Lethem to Georgetown.
The agreement is for the repair, use and maintenance of the fibre optic cable from Brazil. It is for an initial 25 years with an option to extend it for a further 15 years.
Luncheon said that these were inaccurate, that the contract that he has speaks an entirely different story. When media houses pressed Dr. Luncheon for a copy of the contract he has yesterday, it turned out that Kaieteur News had reported accurately.
Luncheon said that of the 12 pairs of fibres in the cable, Dax was granted a few for his exclusive use.
Dr. Luncheon also said that while Dax has spoken about forming a consortium, he can only say that the partner is coming out of Venezuela.
Dr. Luncheon reminded that the rehabilitation work was at no cost to government. He said that the second part of the agreement with the company saw both parties agreeing on Dax maintaining this rehabilitated cable for the life of the agreement.
He said that the cable will forever be a government owned. The maintenance arrangement, he said, was seen by both parties as an “insurance” and was the best way to guarantee that Dax remains committed to servicing the cable. (See full contract below)
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