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GT&T rejects PUC’s denial of domestic phone rates

GT&T CEO Radha Krishna Sharma

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) Radha Krishna Sharma is dissapointed by  issued the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) rejection of the company’s recent request for an increase in domestic rates for the first time in 10 years, saying the country has lost an opportunity for lower international rates and improved quality of service.

“We are disappointed by the PUC’s rejection of our effort to modify rates to reflect changes in the market since the last comprehensive rate review over a decade ago. It is an unfortunate outcome for consumers, who would have received enhanced services and seen their long distance rates cut. It is also a lost opportunity to remove a roadblock in the path to liberalization by bringing rates in line with costs—an effort we strongly support.

“Anyone who reads the PUC order can see that it is really just a laundry list of grievances that are without merit in a modern telecommunications sector. It is not based on a logical adherence to the law, a reasonable consideration of the voluminous record, or consistent with past PUC decisions and rulings.

“As an example, it wrongly assesses our long history of investments. The truth is, we’ve fulfilled all of our obligations and invested USD$250 million since our last rate change, and more than USD $391 million since our contract began. The order also reaches strange conclusions, such as using the very frequent rate increases for the power and water utilities as a justification for denying our first request in 15 years for a rate adjustment. It is also clear that the PUC did not consider the practical effects of its decision, which will force consumers to pay higher long distance rates.

“We have already filed an appeal, and we believe it is essential to keep pushing – after all, Guyana is one of very few countries such as Cuba in the western hemisphere that does not have 3G wireless service. This is nothing short of baffling. The PUC order is emblematic of the frustrating distance between the government’s words and actions when it comes to modernizing the telecom sector.

“But let me be clear – even with this setback, we stand ready to work with the government to finally develop a clear and consistent plan based on proven industry practice, fairness to all regardless of connection or influence, and the rule of law for moving our country forward on telecoms.”