The Working People’s Alliance (WPA), one of six parties in the opposition coalition, on Tuesday said the hand over control of Guyana’s E-Governance project to a small private company would be scrapped if the opposition wins next month’s general elections.
“This 40-year contract is an outrage. It is a theft of state resources in the last days of the PPP/C People’s Progressive Party Civic). It has to be cancelled. It will be cancelled. The WPA does not believe in a witch hunt. But those responsible and those involved will not escape prosecution,” said the WPA in a statement.
Several questions dispatched to Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon were not answered immediately, but sources would only confirm that the deal between government and the local company, Dax Construction, is for 25 years.
The WPA highlighted the contradiction between that fibre-optic cable rehabilitation and network management and government’s criticism of the 40-year monopoly license of voice and data between the then People’s National Congress (PNC)-led administration and Atlantic Tele Network (ATN) for the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T).
“What is also cause for concern is the monopoly contract with Dax. More than 20 years after GT&T’s contract, the Government is yet to find a way out of that contract for which it blames the PNC. Yet, by its own action, the PPP Government has given a 40-year monopoly license and contract to Dax. It is a gift of 10 billion dollars. What a friend Dax must be!” states that party.
Dax Construction officials estimated that the rehabilitation of the botched fibre optic cable itself would cost about US$10 million.
According to the WPA, the March 16, 2015 agreement gives Dax Construction Company “for free” control over all the assets acquired by the E-Governance Project rather than just “eight pairs” of the cable. “Assets acquired with the billions of dollars from the Government under the Project include radio equipment, antennae and other equipment to set up towers and communication posts across the country,” said the party.
The WPA expressed concern about the agreement, saying no audit or valuation was done before the agreement with Dax, which has a share capital of GUY$7,000 (estimated US$35) was signed. “This would have determined the quantities and values of assets contemplated in the agreement,” states the WPA. The party says the agreement provides for a 40 years’ monopoly license over the E-governance project for free, a telecommunication license for free and an an unspecified amount of spectrum for free.
That opposition party feared that the clandestine gift to Dax without consideration is aimed at running an independent network that will be without Government control or oversight to facilitate revenue generation, wire-tapping and everything else. “What is worse is that like the Marriott, the people of Guyana have paid dearly for it,” the WPA adds.
The WPA calculates that between US$10 million and US$13 million, including a monthly salary of US$10,000 to the Head of the E-Governance Project, Alexei Ramotar, have been already spent on the project up to December 31, 2014.
The WPA also raised concerns about the granting of permission to E-Networks to run and operate its own fibre-optic cable very shortly before the May 11, 2015 general elections. That company, the party noted, is headed by majority shareholder Vishok Persaud while his sister Dr. Vindiya Persaud is a director. The Persauds are children of late Reepu Daman Persaud, a former People’s Progressive Party committee member and government minister. “President Ramotar has asked for proof of corruption. He only needs to look in his own household and his Office [of the President]. He will find that his Government has GIVEN about ten billion dollars to a handful of persons including his Party people and their very, very close friends,” the WPA said.