Thursday, 22 November 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John's - Digicel Antigua CEO Victor Corcoran says his private company is not at liberty to discuss the terms of agreement behind the GATE Program, and as such would neither confirm nor deny that Digicel has indeed managed to secure a concession package with government worth EC$60 million over 16 years.
The concession deal comes as part of the programme, which has recently been extended to include the iPad for Students Initiative.
Armed with information about the concession arrangements, which translate to an estimated EC$60 million, Caribarena questioned Corcoran on whether or not the agreement was indeed true; but these queries went unanswered.
“As a privately held company, we do not feel it is appropriate for Digicel to release details of the agreement with the government, and as such we are not at liberty to discuss details outside of those which were made public when the announcement was made in July this year,” Corcoran said.
These negotiations, he added, came over a period of months and have been fully approved by the Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda. Corcoran pointed out, however, that the “groundbreaking GATE programme is testament to Digicel's ongoing commitment to revolutionizing the telecommunications landscape in Antigua & Barbuda.”
Although Digicel does not feel it necessary to publicly outline its benefits for operating in such a capacity, the company does believe the programme is going to do “great things” for the country by firmly positioning Antigua as the ICT capital of the Caribbean and empowering students, business people and individuals. “This is already evident through the launch of LTE - the most technically advanced mobile telecommunications network available today,” Corcoran said.
Caribarena sought clarification on the concession issue following recent information provided to this publication. But despite our questions and the allegations of an EC$60 million government giveaway, Corcoran maintains that the company was not only excited about the potential “positive impact” of its program, particularly for the youth, but was also looking forward to the program propelling inward investment through the support of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The Digicel CEO even envisions Antigua & Barbuda regaining its footing as an attractive destination for foreign investors through the program.
“All of which are fundamental to the growth and development of this country’s economy,” Corcoran told Caribarena.
Throughout yesterday, we made strenuous efforts to contact several key government officials in the hope of obtaining information that would shed greater light on this seemingly generous concession package reportedly given to Digicel.
We were however unable - even after numerous tries, to reach key officials of the Finance Ministry such as Financial Secretary Whitfield Harris and his deputy Rasona Davis.
Attorney General Justin Simon was contacted, but he indicated that he did not have the information we were requesting at his fingertips when finally we got in touch with him Wednesday evening.
Simon did however promise to get back in touch with us.