(Trinidad Guardian) Calling for transparency in last week’s $255 million buyout of Massy’s Com-munications Ltd by state-owned Telecommunica-tions Services of T&T (TSTT), Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his Junior Minister Stuart Young to come clean on the deal.
The transaction, which Persad-Bissessar said made no economic sense, has raised questions about whether PNM financiers had benefited from the deal.
Speaking at the UNC rally held in Couva yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said when she checked on the Massy Holdings website, the chairman was listed as Robert Bermudez whom Education Minister Anthony Garcia had prematurely announced as the new Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. Richard Young was listed as a non-executive director. Persad-Bissessar questioned whether there was any affiliation to Stuart Young. “I call on the Prime Minister to tell us whether he knew and whether (Stuart) Young knew about this deal. This company has 3,500 subscribers who pay $450 a month. It means 3,500 people is $1.5 million a month, so they making $18 million for the year, yet we spent quarter billion to buy that company using taxpayers’ dollars. Is that making economic sense?” Persad-Bissessar questioned.
The gathering shouted “No!”
She added, “This is a serious matter. It involves quarter billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. I am asking questions and I call on Young and Rowley to come out and answer these questions.”
She also said she could not believe that “TSTT will be so mad to spend quarter billion and nobody knows about it”.
“If I were to believe that, then we gone to the dogs. This is why I call on Rowley and his junior minister to answer whether they knew of this and what was their role on the matter,” she added.
She also said she believed that line Minister Fitzgerald Hinds did not know about the transaction as he often missed Rowley’s telephone calls.
Meanwhile, former political leader of the Congress of the People Prakash Ramadhar described the deal as a “bailout and not a buyout.”
“It is a bailout of Neal and Massy. Look at who are directors in Massy and the connection in government. You ever believe any state entity could spend $255 million without the country or the Prime Minister knowing. This bailout has to stop,” Ramadhar said.
He noted that while thousands of people were without jobs, the Government was trying to raise $500 million in property taxes. “This country has tremendous wealth but under poor management we will never see it,” Ramadhar said.
Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh also said that T&T’s debt stood at $123 billion.
“This year, the PNM borrowed more than $20 billion. They spent $90 billion since they took office and what have they to show for it after 20 months? Nothing! We are in a debt trap,” Gopeesingh said.
On Tuesday, Massy Communications and TSTT entered into a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA), in which TSTT announced it will purchase 100 per cent shareholding of Massy Communications Ltd.
The purchase will allow TSTT to have immediate access to an additional 34,000 homes in Diego Martin, Port-of-Spain, Trincity, Arima and San Fernando, which Massy Communications has already passed with fibre optic technology.
YOUNG: I HAVE NO INVOLVEMENT IN THIS MATTER
Contacted Saturday night, Stuart Young denied any involvement in the matter.
“From what you are telling me, the leader of the Opposition has said, this is yet another desperate attempt on her part as a failed leader in which she is making completely false and baseless allegations against persons of integrity. My father, Richard Young, who is a respected businessman, is a non-executive director on Massy Holdings Board and not on Massy Communications Ltd,” Young said.
“The first time that I heard of this proposed transaction of TSTT’s purchase of Massy Communications was when the media reported it, after an announcement by TSTT and Massy Communications on Wednesday this week.”