GT&T, Cel*Star dispute...
PUC seeking appellate Court opinion on interconection directive
Guyana Chronicle
July 7, 2004

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A COURT of Appeal hearing that could kick start the stalled interconnection of Cel*Star Guyana Inc to Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited (GT&T) will resume tomorrow.

Arguments on the issue, by lawyers representing the two companies, began last week Thursday on a motion by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The regulatory body has asked the highest Court in the country to rule whether it can direct GT&T to implement an April 2003 agreement to interconnect the two systems while litigation over the ownership of Cel*Star is pending.

Cel*Star had complained to the PUC about the non-compliance of GT&T which enjoys a monopoly in the voice communication sector that the Government also wants to end.

But GT&T maintained it was unable to do as expected while the legal dispute exists.

The documentation filed at the appellate Court said the PUC is seeking the opinion of that tribunal whether, in the public interest, it has the power and jurisdiction to order GT&T to act in accordance with the deal signed, on the terms and conditions established by the Commission and on an interim basis, pending resolution of the legal proceedings between Cel*Star Guyana Inc and other parties over that company's shares.

Senior Counsel Miles Fitzpatrick began his submissions on behalf of GT&T last week and appearing opposite him are other attorneys-at-law Mr Stephen Fraser and Mr Nigel Hughes for Cel*Star.

Mr Vidyanand Persaud is representing the PUC, which has acknowledged that, if it goes ahead and issues the directive, GT&T has the option to file an appeal which would take time to be heard and further delay Cel*Star from venturing on the market.

Ultimately, if Chancellor Desiree Bernard and other Justices of Appeal Ian Chang and Nandram Kissoon rule that the PUC can direct GT&T to perform as expected by Cel*Star, it would open the way for more investors to become involved in telecommunications here, in keeping with Government policy to demonoploise the sector.