Sunday, April 8, 2012

GT&T waging a desperate rearguard action to keep its monopoly

Back in 1990, the PNC government privatised the local telephone company. It was one of forty corporations the dictatorship had on the block even though it was a lame-duck administration. Elections, scheduled for that year had deferred to 1992 because of a padded voters’ list. Most of these corporations were practically given away – with money obviously flowing like rivers under the table.

80 per cent of the Guyana Telecommunications Corporation (GTC), which was earning about US$3 million annually, was sold to the totally unknown ATN of the Virgin Islands for a measly US$16.5 million. This was a bigger ‘fire sale’ than the clothes from the Jaigobind’s Regent Street fire! It was on the back of GTC – renamed GT&T – that ATN became a communications player. The PPP government had always committed to selling off its 20 per cent stock in the company and introducing competition into the field.
Matters intensified after the 20 year monopoly of the company came up for renewal last year. GT&T waged a desperate rearguard action to keep its monopoly. A couple of weeks ago, the CEO of GT&T Yog Mahadeo launched an unprecedented attack on the government of Guyana. He as so much as accused the government of passing on the corporation’s expansion plans into new technology to rivals! He was pretty miffed that the government was launching its own LTE network – even though the government had long announced this initiative for e-governance and educational use. It was rather surprising that the government did not slap down Mahadeo for his impudence.
Now that the government has sold its 20 per cent share so that – among other things – they cannot be accused of peddling ‘inside’ information, the Kaieteur News is up in arms. For what? They don’t know – but it doesn’t matter, does it? Their mission, after all is to oppose and depose the government. The best charge they could muster was that the US$5 million (of the US$30 million) to be paid in 5 years could come out of dividends. And therefore the shares are being sold for US$25 million!
Don’t the dolts realise that even if the $5 million was paid up front, the $5 million of dividends would have later all been kept by the buyer? It’s “six of one; half-a-dozen of the other”.

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