Oct 16, 2015 News
As the fallout over the latest scandal to rock the National Communications Network (NCN) continues, the Former Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed ‘Fuzzy’ Sattaur, is distancing himself from the purchase of the $23M satellite uplink facilities. In the process he is implicating the hierarchy of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government.
Sattaur, yesterday, issued a public missive in an attempt to clear his name. He is contending that budget teams from NCN, the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the President and the Members of Parliament who were present for the budget debates all had to have known about the purchase of more than $20M in satellite equipment that has never been used for the state-owned station.
According to Sattaur, who left NCN at the end of June 2012, he could not have had anything to do with the capital budget of 2012 since the budget process starts in July/August of each year with a submission of a wish list to the board of directors.
Explaining the process, Sattaur said that a list of items proposed for purchase is prepared in order of importance and once approved by the board, is submitted to the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the President.
According to Sattaur, each item on the list has to be justified by a written plan and a verbal presentation by each agency head several times at the Ministry of Finance and Office of the President. A figure is then determined for capital budget support to each agency each year.
“That figure is applied to the capital budget submission and whatever is prioritized above the line established by the agency’s allocation is approved and the rest is discarded…The person making the presentation for 2012 was certainly not me as I had left before the process started.”
According to Sattaur, the allocation then has to be taken to Parliament for approval as part of the capital budget presentation and is documented in the annual estimates with reasons for each line item and verbal presentations to the committee of supply.
“Once the capital budget is approved in April/ May of the following year, the items are purchased and installed,” said Sattaur.
Sattaur posits that the failure here “seems to be on the part of the Board of Directors and the Management team at NCN at the time of the receipt of the equipment in the third quarter of 2013.”
He suggests that it was either they were not aware of the purpose of the purchased equipment or they simply dropped the ball and failed to proceed with the implementation of the system.
Sattaur is adamant, “Clearly the blame for this cannot be placed on my shoulders as I was not part of the Management team or the Board of Directors for the last three and one half years.”
This publication had reported that it was only the former Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed ‘Fuzzy’ Sattaur, then Programme Manager Martin Goolsarran, the Finance Controller and a technician, Kenneth Jones, who were aware of the presence of the multi-million dollar equipment.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCN, Molly Hassan, had also said that there was no plan documented for the use of the equipment which also includes nine satellite dishes. The dishes, used in the down link aspect of the project, are currently lying in the compound.
The monies for the purchase, according to Hassan, came from NCN’s 2013 Capital Budget but the equipment was identified in 2012. It began arriving early 2013.
According to Hassan, the company will still have to conduct an evaluation of the pieces of equipment and secure the services of competent personnel to bring the facility online.
Kaieteur News, over the weekend, broke the news that NCN had purchased the equipment two years ago but the then government instead of using it, opted to continue to pay TVG 28, now owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, $3.6M monthly, to broadcast The Learning Channel.
Further, this publication has since learnt that not only does NCN own its satellite uplink, it is also capable of having any event occurring locally broadcast live, not only across Guyana but throughout the Caribbean Region and even in North America.
This publication was told that while there is currently not in train any plans to have the equipment brought online with any haste, it will be made operational by the end of the year.
The contract with TVG 28 comes to an end in December and the administration has already signaled its intention to not have the contract renewed.
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