Overthrowing…GTT’s monopoly

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Your Eyewitness understands where GT&T’s been coming from for the last ten years when it dug its heels in over liberalisation of the telecommunications sector.

Hey, the PNC gave the US parent company, ATN, a monopoly back in 1990, which turned the local GT&T into a golden goose that delivered so many golden eggs over the years that they weren’t about to hand it back to the Government!! Businesses are there to make money, and when they have a good thing going, they ain’t letting go!!

But that’s where governments come in. After all, they have a responsibility to the country at large, especially when it comes to providing services for the national good that are licensed by them. When Hoyte started his dismantling of the nationalised state he’d inherited from Burnham, there was no question that the then GTC was on the ropes – like everything else in the economy after Burnham’s ministrations! So, Guyanese didn’t mind when Hoyte gave the company an exclusive licence for 20 years.

In the contract, however, in exchange for the monopoly, the company was supposed to rebuild the network and deliver landlines to specified communities within a timeline. GTT never fulfilled its side of the bargain, even as it sent planeloads of cash to its parent ATN, which made out literally like a bandit. The PUC, which was established to regulate GTT’s rates and service, regularly issued notices to the company about its lapses. In effect, by not fulfilling the terms of the contract, the company was in breach thereof.

They coulda been thrown out on their ears in 2010, when the contract expired, but GTT exercised its contractual right to renew for another ten years; and the PPP, not wanting to throw them out, went along for another ten years. The PPP, however, insisted that the company be willing to allow competitors in other areas, like newer technologies like cell phones etc. GTT, however, played hardball and had the other companies pay through their noses for “connection”. In effect, GTT was hindering the development of Guyana’s ICT sector, which was critical for us to catch up with the rest of the world.

The irony was that, when Hoyte was bringing in ATN in 1990, the US and Britain had already started the breakup of their telephone monopolies – and were serving as an example of “liberalisation and competition” to the rest of the world. Cable and Wireless in Jamaica, for instance, was liberalised in 2001. The PNC had passed a law to remove GTT’s monopoly, but refused to enforce it.

Well, the new PPPC Government has had it, and VP Jagdeo just announced that GTT’s losing its monopoly.

Welcome to the brave new world of connectivity, Guyana!

…duty of care

Your Eyewitness has been sending you notes from the new front the PNC opened up to overthrow the PPP Government – the nurses’ protests for “risk allowance”. The first front after the war of attrition between Dec 21, 2018 and Aug 2, 2010 was in W. Berbice, after the gruesome murder of the Henry cousins. This new one’s in the PNC’s stronghold of Georgetown.

The PNC’s GPSU – an organisation wherein members have to retire at 55, but is led by Patrick Yarde, who’s gotta be 80! – plunged into the fray. Yarde threatened that unless their demands are met, nurses will go on strike next Tuesday. But we now know that was just a misdirection ploy. While the GPHC’s administration were making preparation for dealing with that contingency, the nurses – definitely under instruction from the GPSU – called a sickout in two of the most critical departments: the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and the A&E.

While your Eyewitness has some sympathy for the extra risk allowance, this is beyond the pale!

…Protocols

PNC types are protesting President Ali’s stance: that he won’t talk to the PNC unless they quit calling his government “illegitimate”. One of them said Jagan was always willing to talk to Burnham. Well, exactly what did that get Jagan and his supporters?