Dr. Gonsalves knocks Cable  & Wireless’ former stance
August 24, 2010
Dr. Gonsalves knocks Cable & Wireless’ former stance

Telecommunications company Cable & Wireless bore the brunt of a speech made by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in which he labeled the company as the major stumbling block to the liberalization of the telecommunications industry.{{more}}

“Cable & Wireless gave immense difficulties…. They were being very unhelpful, recalcitrant, obtuse…. They were a monopoly and like all monopolies did not want to relinquish their position of strength and indeed power within the system,” said Gonsalves, while delivering the feature address at the 10th anniversary cocktail of the East Caribbean Telecommunications Agency (ECTEL). The event took place at Government House on Wednesday, August 11.

“They were fighting a battle of the twentieth century while the twenty first century was already upon us,” said Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister spoke of the several issues that his government experienced with the management of the company (now called LIME), whom he said behaved “as though this was in the old days of colonialism”.

“In the old days too, Cable & Wireless never paid us the taxes they should pay us….

The auditors told us, for the previous six years, they should be paying us $26 million more than they paid in taxes,” said Gonsalves.

Gonsalves said luckily for Cable & Wireless they had sent a new manager to the Eastern Caribbean, who succeeded in negotiating a settlement of $17.5 million.

“It was a tough judgment call so I decided to settle the matter,” said the Prime Minister.

“Of course it’s an entirely different operation now. It’s amazing what ten years can do. Things have gotten better. We have come so far in a short period of time,” said Gonsalves.

During his speech, former Prime Minister Sir James appeared to nod his head in agreement with Gonsalves on the matter.

Gonsalves noted that although politicians in democratic societies are sometimes spoken of unkindly, thanks must be given to those in the OECS on both the government and opposition sides, in taking the fight on the issue of trade and telecommunication liberalization.

He used the passage of the local Telecommunications Act of 2001 as an example:

“The NDP (New Democratic Party) led administration was the one which piloted the bill which became the Telecommunications Act in January 2001….It was approved unanimously by the House; even at that time when we were in the midst of sharpened partisan political conflict, with the impending elections by the end of March of that year,” said Gonsalves.

“We nevertheless found time to bury the political hatchet; to come together in the nation’s interest to pass the Act,” he stated.

The Prime Minister indicated that some revisions on the Act of 2001 may soon take place, with the objective of looking ahead and strengthening the institutions that have been established.

“Telecommunications is advancing so rapidly it would be strange that if you have a law ten years ago, that you wouldn’t have weaknesses in it today and our job is to correct those weaknesses,” said Gonsalves.

Gonsalves, along with former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell, Dr. Jerrol Thompson, Randolph Cato, Isaac Solomon, Donnie Defreitas, and Apollo Knights were recognized for their work in changing the face of telecommunications over the years.