Oct 23, 2016 News
The issue of the outstanding US$5M from the sale of Government’s shares in GTT is yet to be resolved.
And the controversial State company, National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), tasked with ascertaining the truth of the matter does not seem to be making any significant headway.
At a recently held post Cabinet press conference, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who is also a NICIL board member was asked to comment on the matter.
During his contentious trip to China a few months ago, he received some documents from Hong Kong Golden Telecom Company (HKGT), the company that bought Government’s shares in GTT. The documents claim that the company got a debt write off for the outstanding sum.
When asked if the media would be able to see those documents and whether they would be made available, Harmon, said, “That is a matter for NICIL; that my engagement on that matter was on behalf of NICIL and therefore all the documents, some of which I received in that regard, have been handed to NICIL. It is within the responsibility and jurisdiction of NICIL.”
Harmon said that NICIL has a Board, a Chairman and a Secretary and he is “just” a member.
It was in 2012 that NICIL sold the Government’s investment in GTT for US$30M of which the sum of US$25M was received. The balance, US$5M, was to be paid within a period of two years.
But there have been conflicting stories since that initial arrangement.
At one point, the nation was told that Guyana’s former Ambassador to China, David Dabydeen facilitated a debt write-off to HKGT.
HKGT is a subsidiary of Datang Telecom International Technology (Hong Kong) Company Limited.
Kaieteur News understands that the purchase agreement between the Chinese company and Guyana was framed in such a manner that in the event of any legal issue, Guyana or HKGT would have to petition the United Kingdom courts.
NICIL had said that in an attempt to avoid costly and lengthy adjudication of the matter in the English Courts, it called on the Government to encourage HKGT through diplomatic channels, to honour its contractual obligations.
NICIL said that HKGT alleged that following a series of communications with the former Guyana Ambassador to China, HKGT was assured that it was not required to pay the balance of US$5M.
This was because HKGT had not been granted the same minority protection rights enjoyed by NICIL—that is two representatives, instead of one, on the GT&T Board of Directors. HKGT alleged that it was initially promised two seats by the then Government of Guyana.
NICIL said that HKGT also alleged that the decision to waive the US$5M was contained in a side agreement.
NICIL noted that it has not been able to verify the veracity of HKGT’s claim of waiver and has requested the assistance of the Government of Guyana to verify the validity of HKGT’s assertion and the documents they produced to support same.
Additionally, Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman had told the media that Harmon had retrieved documents from his trip to China which indicate that the money had been paid before last year’s general elections.
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