Liberalised telecommunications sector will level playing field- GTT CEO

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…says US$5M has been set aside to settle those tax disputes

GTT CEO Justin Nedd

The prospect of increased competition from other companies, likely to come from a liberalised telecommunications sector, does not faze Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) Company.

This was expressed by GTT Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Justin Nedd, during a press conference on Tuesday.

According to Nedd, the sector is to a large extent already liberalised; even if there is a monopoly on paper.

“The reality is that we have got on paper the exclusivity for international long distance, we are not the only one that provide international long distance services , we have got the exclusivity of providing internet and data services, we are not the only one that provides it…Am I concerned about liberalisation, we operate in a competitive space already, what liberation will do in my belief is level the playing field where we all either pay 45% taxes and adhere by the same rules and I like our chances “ Nedd said.

Nedd pointed out that in keeping with this degree of liberalisation, they have made efforts to lower costs and improve internet services.

“In short we are 17 and a ½ percentage points higher than our competitors in terms of the statutory tax rate but 93 per cent lower than the price per meg…comparing to ourselves over the last four years we have significantly increased the value as we in some cases reduce prices and increase speed, so i’ll take you back to 2014 where the price for one megabyte per second connection was $9998 and today you get five times the value for less than that” The CEO disclosed.

When asked exactly what was holding up the liberalisation of the sector, Nedd would only reference the ongoing negotiations and the exchange of documents.

An announcement was made in June that a new timeline of year-end would be set for the liberalisation of the sector.

For some time, the liberalisation of the sector has been held up by the settlement of a US$44 million tax claim against GTT.

As it relates to the tax issues, GTT’s parent company, Atlantic Tele-Network International (ATNI) said that GTT has been involved in several legal claims regarding its tax filing with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) dating back to 1991 regarding the deductibility of intercompany advisory fees as well as other tax assessments.

The company had noted that should it be held liable for any of the disputed tax assessments, totalling US$41.1 million, it is of the view that the Government would then be obligated to reimburse it for any amounts necessary to ensure a not-less-than 15 per cent return on investment.

However, the telephone giant has now disclosed on Tuesday that some US$5M has been set aside to settle those tax disputes.

GTT and the Government began negotiations on December 9, 2016, hoping to put an end to the 26-year-old monopoly on the fixed line, international voice and data markets.

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