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Confusion reigns as Guyana-Brazil cable deal faces scrutiny

8 May 2015

Work on repairing the long-delayed fibre-optic link connecting Guyana and Brazil began early last month, but details of the controversial 40-year deal between the government and Dax Contracting Services covering the cable’s restoration and maintenance remain unclear, Kaieteur News reports. The deal allows Dax to use a portion of the cable’s capacity as payment for the repair and maintenance of the link, allowing the government to complete its long awaited e-government programme at no extra cost. However, elements of the deal have called into question the government’s claims that the repair work is ‘cost-free’. Earlier this week it was pointed out that one condition of the deal, whereby import dues on certain vehicles and equipment is waived, could be abused by the contractor. Another clause, through which the government of Guyana would ‘contribute financially’ to the cost of specific elements of maintenance ‘of an emergency nature,’ was highlighted by press, but the precise details of this mechanism have yet to be ironed out, Dax’s chief Faisal Mohamed explained, adding that he still needs to ‘sit down with them and work it out.’

Meanwhile, Mr Mohamed and the head of the presidential secretariat Dr Luncheon have disagreed over whether Dax could use its capacity to enter the telecoms market. According to the government official the contract specifically states that Dax cannot use the fibre-optic cable to become a telecoms operator. Dax, however, has stated that it has not ruled out that option, but must focus first on making the link operational, a task which it expects will take six to eight months. Further casting the deal into doubt, responding to queries regarding the contract, Mr Mohamed suggested that it had not been reviewed by a lawyer prior to its signing.


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