- threatened to withdraw ads if Kaieteur News did not apologize
Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Co. Ltd. (GT&T), Yog Mahadeo, yesterday lashed out at the Kaieteur News for what he termed 'its wicked and malicious reporting'. This was after the newspaper carried a story which that GT&T paid Office of the President in excess of US$50M in gifts. The CEO retorted that the Company makes a mandatory payment of 0.1 per cent of its annual gross revenues to the Office of the President (OP). And that the money is not a gift to OP but rather, a contractual obligation. “This annual fee has been paid every year since 1992.”
GT&T, according to Mahadeo, is required to pay an annual fee to the Government of Guyana.
He explained that the Licence directs GT&T to pay the annual fee to the “Minister assigned responsibility for telecommunications, on behalf of the Government.”
According to Mahadeo, for many years GT&T paid the annual fee to the Ministry of Public Works as the Ministry with responsibility for telecommunications under Prime Minister Sam Hinds.
However, this changed in 2008 when President Bharrat Jagdeo assumed the portfolio of the Minister of Telecommunications.
Mahadeo did stress that at no time has GT&T paid this annual fee, nor any other sum, “to any specific person(s) in or associated with the Office of the President.”
Among some of the other fees GT&T pays are spectrum fees that have been paid directly to the National Frequency Monitoring Unit which averages some $300M per annum.
GT&T also pays dividends to NICIL as it relates to the 20 per cent shares owned by Government in the company. It also pays other applicable taxes to the GRA.
The 0.1 per cent payment to Office of the President averages some $16M a year according to Mahadeo and fluctuates in light of the variations.
This would mean that over the 10 years dating back to 2001, the total payment was less that US$1 million.
On Sunday, Kaieteur News reported that some US$50 million was paid to Office of the President. This was a gross misrepresentation.
According to Office of the President, the headline that the money was gifted was an indictment that Office of the President and GT&T were in collusion for the payment of bribes. It had also stated that the payment was being done in secret.
According to Mahadeo, that payment is reflected in the records of GT&T as should be the case also with the receiving entity.
When asked if the information was public knowledge, Mahadeo said that while it is public knowledge, finding the specific details publicly as it relates to that payment could prove to be difficult.
And in a twist to the saga Kaieteur News today apologised for the wicked and malicious act. We have learnt through sources at the newspaper this was done after a high ranking official of the phone company contacted its Editor-in-chief and threatened to sue.