The hearing by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company’s (GTT) proposal to raise the rates for landline services was delayed again yesterday and adjourned indefinitely.
After hours of back and forth arguments from both the PUC and the telephone company along with the Guyana Consumers Association (GCA) at the conference room of the PUC, a decision was made to have the matter adjourned indefinitely.
Commissioner Maurice Solomon explained that GTT had not presented its financial statements clear enough to the commission.
However, GTT Consultant Gene Evelyn related that over the years the matter was before the commission, the company had provided all the information needed for the discussion to continue.
“We have answered four memoranda from the GCA. We have answered every question put to us by this commission. We have had breakout sessions. How is it that at this eleventh hour, three years later, three years after the filing, we are still struggling over minor questions? What then are we to do?” Evelyn questioned.
GTT Chief Executive Officer Justin Nedd also related that his company has provided financial statements, models and has given the commission “access to our analyses and traffic information” but he was still “really at a lost on what the expectation is.”
However, since the commission could not come to a decision, the matter was adjourned without a date. The commissioner stated that if they needed elucidation on any of the information that has been provided by GTT they would communicate with them.
As the hearing was being adjourned, Evelyn used the opportunity to request a temporary rate change, which was denied by the commission. “Is it unfair of us to expect or to ask that during all this time that we be granted rates under the provisions of the Act, temporary rates? And then we can talk for 10 years,” he said.
In 2014, GTT had applied to raise the domestic rates for most of its services but the commission had rejected the application in 2015.
GTT’s application had proposed increases for services, such as installations, transfers, additional jacks, wake-up call, 3-way calling, voicemail, call forwarding and reconnection. It also sought to increase rates for intra exchange calls during peak hours by 40% and during non-peak hours by 60%. The current intra-exchange call rate is $.60 (peak) and $.30 (non-peak). For inter-exchange calls (calls from one zone to another), it proposed increases by 20% for both peak and non-peak hours. The current rates for peak hours, per minute are Zone A – $3, B – $4, C – 5$ and D – $7. During non-peak hours the rates are $2, $3.6, $4.8 and $5, respectively.
However, the company decided to reopen the talks with the commission in November to have the landline service’s rates increased, pointing out that rates had not been increased in 15 years and they were losing much needed revenue since persons were more reliant on their cellular phones.