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Confusion reigns over missing GTT payment

22 Apr 2016

The Guyanese government has announced that the final outstanding USD5 million payment due to the state as part of the sale of its 20% stake in fixed line monopoly holder Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) has already been paid, although it is still investigating the circumstances of the transaction, Kaeiteur News writes. In 2012 the government agreed to sell its shares in GTT to Chinese firm Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group for USD30 million, with USD25 million paid up front and the remaining USD5 million to be paid out over the subsequent two years. Until recently it was understood that Datang had not yet paid the USD5 million and earlier this year Minister of State Joseph Harmon travelled to China, with a representative of the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) – the government agency responsible for managing the state’s shares and securities – to carry out negotiations regarding the outstanding payment. Mr Harmon’s report has been presented to the cabinet and the NICIL, which will consider the findings before making the report public. In the meantime, however, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, was quoted as saying in a post-cabinet press briefing: ‘What I can say is that Harmon has been able to retrieve some documents which tell a different story … that being that the money was paid and we are trying to track down to who, how, where and when.’ For its part, Datang has never previously indicated that it had already paid the USD5 million.

Confusing the matter, however, are conflicting reports from government officials close to the NICIL that Datang has claimed that the full price was USD25 million, rather than the USD30 million figure. Further muddying the waters, earlier this year the Chairman of NICIL’s board of directors told press that Datang had refused to pay the outstanding amount unless it is given more seats on GTT’s board of directors. Its 20% stake only entitles it to a single seat on GTT’s board, but Datang has reportedly asserted that it must inherit all the privileges that the government enjoyed whilst it was in possession of the shares.

Guyana, Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT)

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