Ending the two decades monopoly that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) holds on landline and international calls in Guyana may not be automatic with a simple assent to the Telecommunications Bill which was passed by the National Assembly recently.
Although the Bill paves the way for a liberalisation of the sector and an end to the monopoly, Public Telecommunications Minister Catherine Hughes told the National Assembly on Monday that a special consultant is to be hired by the Ministry to engage GTT in negotiations.
The matter came up while the Minister was seeking a total of $22.3 million in supplementary provision to pay three Ministerial Advisors and the consultant.
Responding to questions from Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, Minister Hughes said the reason for the special consultant is to engage GTT in negotiations to end its monopoly.
Minister Hughes was confronted with more questions from Teixeira who claimed that she was confused since the passage of the Bill and its subsequent assent should bring an automatic end to the monopoly.
“I am confused… I am not sure what they are negotiating,” the Opposition Chief Whip said.
Minister Hughes insisted that negotiations were necessary.
Two days after the Bill was passed, GTT said it was happy about the move to liberalization but noted that it would seek to engage the government in negotiations.
GTT’s CEO Justin Nedd had explained that the negotiations are important for ensuring respect for contracts and the rule of law.
He clarified then that the company was not asking asking for its monopoly to remain in place.
Nedd would not say what is at stake for the company that has held a two decades old monopoly on landline and international calls.
With the passage of this Bill that monopoly stands to be broken, allowing for more operators to enter and for existing operators to expand their services.