Digicel’s Guyana operations on Thursday denied claims by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) that it has evaded taxes through what its competitor called an illegal bypass.
“Digicel notes with great disappointment GT&T’s most recent statements to the press in which it repeated untrue allegations and more specifically claimed that Digicel has denied the Government of Guyana payment of taxes. Digicel wishes to state categorically that it owes no taxes and is in good standing with the GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority),” the phone company said in a statement.
The Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes has since said she is not opposed to an audit of Digicel’s operations, but highlighted that GTT does not serve many areas and has not stuck to its contractual obligation of upgrading the landline service every 10 years.
Hughes said so far, GTT has not yielded to her calls to prove that it has the capacity to provide adequate data service.
For its part, Digicel said when it began providing services in Guyana in 2007, consumers saw up to 50% decrease in domestic call rates and access to new affordable handsets with no activation fees. Digicel added that 27 years after GT&T’s launch in Guyana, there are still areas even in Georgetown where customers are still waiting for service from GT&T.
Recognising the need for consumers in Guyana to have access to the internet on the go, in May 2007, Digicel said it introduced mobile internet service via Blackberry and it was only in November 2011 that GT&T decided to follow suit – over four and a half years later.
Digicel said the exchange of text messages between the Digicel and GT&T networks was made possible through the efforts of Digicel despite GT&T’s resistance for over two years as Digicel considered it to be a basic requirement of service provision for Guyanese to be connected to one another regardless of choice of network. .
Digicel said the focus should be on customers and competition and called on GT&T to desist from making false allegations that serve to mislead and remove the focus from the imminent opening of a fully competitive telecoms sector in Guyana and to allow the Government to continue to work towards making liberalisation a reality for the benefit of the public of Guyana.
“If GT&T believes it offers a superior level of services to consumers in Guyana, then there should be no need to fear liberalisation. It’s ironic that GT&T is trying to portray itself as a consumer champion whilst doing everything in its power to frustrate our attempts to provide competition and choice in the market. Despite these challenges, Digicel has managed to compete effectively with GT&T and prides itself on its innovation and on the standard and quality of its services and will continue to fight to provide them to the people of Guyana,” Digicel said.
GT&T claimed that Digicel’s illegal bypass system through Suriname is not only of low quality but has robbed Guyana’s coffers of at least US$30 million.
GT&T said it has paid more than US$50 million in taxes to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) over the past 15 years.
Digicel Group is a total communications and entertainment provider with operations in 32 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific. After 16 years of operation, total investment to date stands at over US$5 billion worldwide. The company is renowned for delivering best value, best service and best network.
Digicel also runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago which focus on educational, cultural and social development programmes.