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Updated: Ramotar says US$5 M for GT&T shares still outstanding

ex-President Donald Ramotar

ex-President Donald Ramotar

Ex-President Donald Ramotar on Thursday maintained that US$5 million for Guyana’s shares in Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) have not yet been paid.

“The five million US (dollars) is still outstanding,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.  Later Thursday, he issued a prepared statement calling on the government to lay bare its records to show that the money was paid by the Chinese telecoms company, Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group to the Guyana government. “I challenge the Government to present the “documents” it has received (under suspicious and questionable circumstances) so that the veracity of the evidence can be tested and authenticated,” he said.

Ramotar added that the US$25 million that have been already paid for the 20 percent stake in the phone company were received by National Industrial Commercial and Investments Limited (NICIL).

This is after APNU+AFC administration stated a recent trip to China for a US$5 million debt supposedly owed by a telecoms company for Guyana’s shares in GT&T has turned up more questions than cash. However, the former President said the paper-trail was there to prove where the money is. “Any claim that amounts were paid, would not be hard to prove.

The only entity that was and is authorized to receive any monies from the purchaser for this transaction was NICIL. One would assume that had NICIL received this money then there would be a receipt or some form of banking documentation to show its payments. Any claim that some other entity or person received this money would also be easy to prove or disprove.”

Government spokesman, Raphael Trotman told a post-cabinet news conference that Minister of State, Joseph Harmon’s recent visit to China to meet with Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group did not yield good news.

“What I can say is that Mr. Harmon has been able to retrieve some documents which tell a different story. That story being, of course, that the five million was paid so we are trying to track down to whom, how and where and when?… that is before May 16, 2015,”  Trotman said in clear reference to the date the APNU+AFC coalition took office following the elections five days earlier.

When contacted, Ramotar said that it seems as though some folly was afoot. He said as far as he can recall, the monies were paid into NICIL’s accounts but not transferred to the treasury.

“This is the first time I am hearing that this is an issue,” said the Former Head of State who then suggested that “somebody seems to be throwing dust in somebody’s eyes.”

Ramotar stated that forensic audits that were done at NICIL would show exactly where the money went and that is where the APNU+AFC should begin its search.

“The money was paid into NICIL…government has a forensic audit into NICIL so ask the forensic auditors what happened. The money went through NICIL,” the ex President emphasized.

The veteran politician said government’s insinuation that the money was paid to someone else or some other entity other than NICIL prior to the May 2015 elections was a distraction from the real issues. “It’s belligerent claims of massive corruption under the PPP/C administration have yet to be proven by this government. This latest claim is an expected APNU/AFC political ploy to appeal to peoples’ emotions rather than seeking the truth.

This claim is designed to digress from answering the people’s demands for explanations on who really paid for the trip to China, the naming of the ‘honorific’ advisors and party contributors, and demands for decisive actions against the increase in crime in our country.” he said.