The PNCR believes that if it is indeed necessary for the government to sell its 20 percent share in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), employees of the company should be afforded the first option to purchase same.
These sentiments were expressed by the party at its weekly press conference held on Friday at Congress Place.
PNCR member Amna Ally, who read from a prepared statement, said the party would “oppose any attempt to deny the workers of GT&T the right to own those shares.” She said it was the workers of the company who have made it “into an effective and efficient organisation” and contended that “they should be given some preference over the political hangers-on and favoured supporters of the PPP.”
In May, Head of the Privatisation Unit Winston Brassington, following GT&T’s Annual General Meeting, had announced that the government was offering Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN), the majority shareholder of GT&T, the opportunity to buy the shares. The manner in which this was done, drew the ire of GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer Major General (ret’d) Joe Singh. The CEO, however, disclosed that the ATN’S Chief Executive Officer Michael Pryor had stated that the offer by government to sell its shares to ATN would have to be considered by the board of the company.
No disclosure has since been made as to whether any firm decision has been made.
Meanwhile, following Brassington’s announcement, GINA had subsequently quoted President Bharrat Jagdeo as saying that the money from the sale of government’s 20 per cent share will be utilised to develop the information communication technology (ICT) sector.
“We hope that the money that we can realize from this sale can go back to developing the ICT sector; that we can get more people access (to the internet)…we are trying to get more computers (and)…bring down the cost of bandwidth”, Jagdeo was quoted as saying.
Jagdeo further said the that government has been a passive shareholder of GT&T, accepting dividends and permitting the majority shareholder, Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN), to take decisions that are in their interest. And while government remains committed to a liberalized telecommunications sector, this does not mean that the administration has to do the investments itself, the President said.
He explained that the government will move to increase internet penetration within Guyana by subsidising the cost of internet bandwidth.