The GT&T US$5M shares story continues to grow legs #guyana

Editor, if the PPP government owed Tiwarie US$324,677, can the Coalition Government please tell your ardent readers and all curious and concerned Guyanese how the Coalition Government reached a settlement of US$5.7M, which is just US$700,000 short of the US$5M in GT&T shares Minister Harmon went to China, reportedly with Tiwarie in tow, to collect?

Dear Editor,
On reading your Thursday, July 27, 2017, lead story, “Cabinet to decide way forward on outstanding US$5M for GTT shares,” I noticed your writer made no mention of State Minister Joe Harmon’s 2016 trip to China, with an entourage.
The entourage, which reportedly included businessman, B.K. Tiwarie, went to collect the same outstanding US$5M owed government for the GT&T shares bought by a Chinese firm in 2012.It would have also been helpful if Kaieteur News could have gotten the government to tell the nation how much the Chinese firm has collected in annual dividends so far from GT&T.
Nevertheless, for the benefit of readers, let us recap that Minister Harmon left Guyana in March 2016 on a visit to collect on the US$5M in GT&T shares, but the fortuitously visit morphed into an attempt at attracting Chinese investors to Guyana. There was even a photo-op of Minister Harmon aboard a Chinese plane and a subsequent attempted press briefing clarification of the photo-op on his return to Guyana.
But once Kaieteur News made public the January 19, 2016 appointment of Tiwarie as a Business Advisor to the Coalition Government, President David Granger quickly moved to rescind the appointment. “He is not performing any functions and that is why the position is rescinded. He is not required to perform any business function. We have a Minister of Business, and as far as I am concerned, the Minister is quite capable and competent, and he has not asked me for any assistance, and I personally rescinded Mr Tiwarie’s appointment.” (I personally rescinded Mr Tiwarie’s appointment – President Granger, KN, April 01, 2016).
In a Presidency Ministry press release carried by Stabroek News on April 1, 2016, the ministry reported Minister Harmon ‘returned from an official trip to the People’s Republic of China. The purpose of the visit was to engage in discussions with regard to the payment of the US$5 million balance owed for the purchase of 20 percent of Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) shares by Chinese company, Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group from NICIL in 2012’. (Harmon’s China visit was in relation to GT&T shares payment – Ministry of the Presidency’).
In his defence, Minister Harmon held out that his decision to appoint Tiwarie as a Ministerial Advisor on Business Development was above board and was a mere ‘honorific title’. On his way back from China, he stopped over in New York and told Kaieteur News the facts of the matter were being twisted. In fact, he firmly believed that the criticisms, which have since ensued regarding the matter, were all part of a wicked plot to jeopardize his political career.
He then reiterated that he will deal with this matter specifically at a media briefing very soon. “I will do a full presser on the matter when I return.” In an April 14, 2016 news article by Demerara Waves, “Harmon explains his presence aboard a jet in China; announces new majority investor in Bai Shan Lin,” Minister Harmon spoke at length on possible investments by Chinese companies and precious little on the status of the GT&T shares recovery attempt.
Following a back and forth between government and Opposition officials as to whether the money was written off or paid off, the matter fell into Resources Minister Raphel Trotman’s lap, before winding up on NICIL Chairman Horace James’ desk. So, here we are, today, reading of an attempt by the same Chinese company to pay zero, then US$1M, then US$2M to settle the matter.
This is one of those news stories that defies logic and keeps growing legs as it runs all over the place in search of a sanctuary of escape from basic facts being found out. Like so many other Guyanese, I just don’t get the logic, for example, of any government-foreign company shares buying agreement that would have a stipulation that calls for any future disagreement to be settled in a court in London. It was as if the Chinese company deliberately expected a disagreement, but that faux pas was only made worse when Minister Harmon, and not the Minister of Business, made a trip related a business agreement and came back empty handed. It later shocked us when Minister Harmon described the trip as ‘successful’.
What also caught observant readers’ interest was the fact that, following the China trip, the government reached aUS$5.7M settlement with Tiwarie over a lawsuit brought by Tiwarie against the then PPP government for US$324,677 for work being done on the Haags Bosch project, despite letters and invoices being submitted. BK had reportedly filed claims against the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development for US$8M for breaches in the contract. (“Gov’t pays BK US$5.7M in out-of-court settlement for Haags Bosch,” KN, July 14, 2016).
Editor, if the PPP government owed Tiwarie US$324,677, can the Coalition Government please tell your ardent readers and all curious and concerned Guyanese how the Coalition Government reached a settlement of US$5.7M, which is just US$700,000 short of the US$5M in GT&T shares Minister Harmon went to China, reportedly with Tiwarie in tow, to collect?
Like I said before, this GT&T shares news story defies logic as it continues to grow legs, and it would do the government well to come ‘straight and full’, with ‘no chinksin’ on this matter, because as with other red flag issues in the last two years, this government is not only giving itself a bad name, but giving an angry and power hungry Opposition enough rope to hang government with in full view of a corruption-wary, transparency-hungry public.
This issue is not petty and personal; it is political and practical! The downfall of the PPP was not that it was merely corrupt or lack transparency and accountability, but it deliberately and arrogantly refused to heed public calls for same.
Emile Mervin

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s