GTT wants Govt to honour contracts with service providers

… welcomes liberalisation – CEO

While the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) welcome the passage of the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2016, Chief Executive Officer Justin Nedd has stated that Government should honour its contracts with service providers.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, Nedd stated that GTT is looking forward to further talks with the Government and is confident about Government honouring its contract with the service provider.

GT&T CEO Justin Nedd
GT&T CEO Justin Nedd
Digicel CEO Kevin Kelly
Digicel CEO Kevin Kelly

“In order to get the liberalisation after the passage of the Bill, we have to talk to the Government, work out some negotiations and hopefully, we’ll get that done soon. And again, I emphasise, we are ready to do that very quickly,” Nedd said; adding, however, that they are not opposed to the monopoly being broken.
The legislation was passed in the House on Monday after nearly seven hours of heated debate. Member of Parliament Odinga Lumumba, who described the monopoly as a noose around the necks of Guyanese, stated that when GT&T took over the sector it became a cash cow and instead of building national cable networks and advancing the sector, its only interest was in maximising profits.
In November 2013, the National Assembly sent the legislation to a Special Select Committee with the then Opposition indicating that while it supported the Bill, it had unease over the then Minister’s control. The Bill was put back several times because the two telecommunications giants in Guyana were in discussions about breaking the monopoly held by GTT.
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the Bill provides for an open, liberalised and competitive telecommunications sector that will be attractive to new market entrants and investors while preserving the activities of the current sector participants. It expounded that by creating such an environment, the bill is expected to result in greater choice, better quality of service and lower prices for consumers.
GTT, which had legal monopoly on international voice and data transmissions and the domestic wire line service, has always declared that the sector is free because of the existence of other service providers. But, Digicel, its biggest competitor, had lambasted the company for its statement.
Nevertheless, Nedd on Wednesday stated that, “GTT is excited at the prospect of bringing a wider range of services to Guyana over the coming months. Liberalisation will bring much needed clarity to the sector, engendering a level playing field for all market participants and greater investment in Guyana.”
“This is great for the people of Guyana and GTT remains ready to work quickly with the Government to complete the path to market liberalisation. Guyana will be very different with the development of the robust 4G broadband services that liberalisation will enable. GTT intends to be a big part of that transformation,” Nedd added.
He also indicated that he remains optimistic that Government will honour the rule of law regarding its contract with GTT since non-compliance could impact future deals within the sector.
““If any country wants foreign direct investment, it is important for investors to understand that if I have contract with the government, it will be honoured,” he explained.
He stated that GTT is not asking the Government for the monopoly to remain but noted that there are some things that need to be resolved.
“Right now there are many grey areas we are trying to resolve and we’ve been operating in those grey areas for several years, so we’re optimistic that with liberalisation, it will be clear. Businesses need predictability so once we have predictable operating environment, we know that we can focus on driving the business, providing good services and satisfying the customers.”
Digicel Guyana on Tuesday had issued a statement welcoming the passage of the Bill. It indicated that the Bill “is the first step in the long overdue ending of the telephone monopoly, which is a laudable achievement and a position that Digicel supports”.
The company added that it also awaits engagements with the Government to discuss its licence and regulations for a level playing field.