First quarter deadline set in talks on GTT shares money

A deadline has been set for the end of the 1st quarter by Hong Kong Golden Telecom Limited (HKGT) and National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to conclude discussions on the outstanding US$5M for the purchase of government shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT).

This is according to NICIL head Horace James who told Stabroek News on Monday that the two sides are continuing negotiations; the last round of which was held last month.

“We are in discussion …nothing was paid as yet. We (the two sides) have set a March (deadline). By the end of the first quarter we hope to conclude discussions. That is our target”, he said when asked for an update.

In March, 2016, Minister of State Joseph Harmon and a delegation controversially travelled to China to engage in discussions with regard to the payment of the US$5 million balance owed to the government for the purchase of 20% of GTT shares by Chinese company Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, the parent company of HKGT, from NICIL in 2012. This deal was entered into by the PPP/C administration but only US$25 million of the agreed US$30 million was known to have been paid.

While it was later revealed that Harmon had obtained documents which showed that the money was paid over prior to the APNU+AFC coalition taking office and efforts were underway to track the money, NICIL said that it had not received the outstanding balance.

In December, 2016 it was revealed that NICIL was on the verge of preparing to begin arbitration to recover the outstanding balance. However, it was subsequently decided that NICIL would engage HKGT on a one-on-one basis as opposed to getting a third party involved.

Several weeks ago, James had told this newspaper that the NICIL was expecting a response from the company in the coming days. When asked about this on Monday he stressed that the negotiation process continues.

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