Why the comparison? To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
January 22, 2002

I write with reference to the recent upheaval by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company in their bid to introduce new rates to the consuming public, many of whom are yet to recover from the Guyana Power and Light increases.

After listening earnestly to a rather insightful report made by the Chief Executive Officer of the telephone house at the company’s recent press conference, it was almost natural to become moved by the emotive rationale given for the increases.

While Ms. Jagan displayed an admirably thorough knowledge of the operations of GT&T, which I became immersed in, I was quickly jolted back to reality when the focus of her report shifted to a comparative analysis between local and overseas rates.

My feeling, and I’m certain the sentiment of others was “why the comparison?”

The reason for questioning this line of defense basically centres around the fact that not only does GT&T enjoy a monopoly service to consumers locally, but also yielded and continues to reap much profit since its 1991 take-over of the local telecommunications sector.

To compare local rates with Regional and International rates in my estimation amounts to presumptuousness on the part of the GT&T, since the smallest child who has travelled abroad would recognise that our country is still in its developmental stage.

To contend that you’re not to be blamed for the poor management of the economy (as was asserted by the top brass of GT&T) as a reason for seeking the increased rates is smut with disregard for the ordinary consumer.

To conceive of your increase as justifiable because other utility companies (like GPL) “do it regularly” again is a display of contempt for the ordinary consumer.

What the GT&T has apparently failed to consider is that its first duty is to the consumers, who continue to put the millions in their coffers.

Without the consumers there would be no need to provide a service so many depend on as a necessity, as the telephone is their only source of communication and therefore should not be seen by the GT&T as a “Christmas gift”.

One cannot disregard the fact that much improvements have been advanced in the telecommunications sector over the years, but the GT&T must also be cognizant of their obligation to service the entire populace of the country in a manner that is affordable to all.

Here’s hoping that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will arrive at an amicable position, fixing a temporary increase, which will be livable for all of us.