Official accuses PNC/R of `gross misrepresentation'
Guyana Chronicle
June 22, 2002

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THE Information Liaison Officer to the President has slammed the Opposition PNC/R for claiming Thursday that while President Bharrat Jagdeo has castigated the local telephone company for lobbying the U.S. Government to deny Guyana access to an IDB loan for an Information Technology and Communications (ITC) project, he has maintained a "deafening silence" on the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL).

Mr. Robert Persaud said that this position of the PNC/R (People's National Congress Reform) was a gross misrepresentation of the reality.

The Government has applied for a US$18M loan from the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) to fund the ICT project intended to set up some 200 IT centres countrywide.

However, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) has protested the approval of the loan, arguing on the basis of the telecommunications monopoly status it was granted in 1990 by the then PNC administration.

Persaud told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that the divestment of the telephone company in 1990 was not transparent as there were no advertisements or tendering procedure for the sale of the State-owned Guyana Telecommunications Corporation.

Persaud told GINA that the sell-out of the telephone company to Atlantic Tele Network of the United States was a "sweetheart" deal, containing "a still questionable six per cent fee on gross income, (which adds up to about US$80M over ten years), while the company was sold for only US16M".

However, Persaud said that contrary to this deal, the privatisation of the Guyana Electricity Corporation was publicly advertised, bids were invited, there was a transparent evaluation process and the company's assets were valued, as is done with all privatisation deals under the current administration.

Countering the PNC/R claims, Persaud noted that "the President has been vociferous about the quality of GPL's service".

"I am very dissatisfied with the performance of GPL...when you turn on the switch there must be power, uninterrupted power supply", Persaud quoted the President as saying on October 5, 2001.

There were many more such statements by the President and senior government functionaries that Persaud highlighted to GINA.

GINA sated that while GPL has failed to live up to its many commitments, the Government has not supported or in any way hidden those shortfalls.