Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, said, yesterday, that he has said enough on
the campaign trail about the importance of the revocation of all illegally granted broadcasting licences and as such, will maintain those statements today.
His comments were in response to questions about Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo favouring the issuing of more licences as opposed to the revocation of illegal ones.
Ramjattan made it clear that he would not comment on Nagamootoo’s statements at this time but reiterated that his position on the matter, as expressed on the 2015 election campaign trail, will remain unchanged.
The Minister of Public Security had emphasized during that time that there is no doubt that the issuing of radio licences and the spectrum to certain people alone is something that is unconstitutional and is repugnant to any true democracy.
Ramjattan had said that former President Bharat Jagdeo’s calculated granting of the licences was political and deemed it “control freakism”.
He had recalled on numerous occasions how Jagdeo, weeks before leaving office, awarded his best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop five radio frequencies; New Guyana Company Limited, five and Telcor and Cultural Broadcasting Inc another five.
Telcor’s contact person is Omkar Lochan, who happens to be the former Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. That Ministry was headed by Robert Persaud. Lochan has since resigned.
It was also exposed that the owner of the radio station is Robert Persaud’s sister, Ruth Baljit.
New Guyana Company is the one that publishes the party’s newspaper, Mirror, and whose contact person is
PPP’s Member of Parliament (MP), Dharamkumar Seeraj.
Jagdeo also gave two cable licences to two of his closest friends, Vishok Persaud and Brian Yong.
Ramjattan has been protesting with private media houses, including Kaieteur News, against the unfair distribution of the radio and cable licences. During those protests, he also called for unlawful licences to be taken away.
In the mean time, Nagamootoo’s comments recently that he favoured more licences being granted as opposed to them being rescinded did not sit well with some members of the GNBA and other critics outside of the entity.
The officials who spoke with Kaieteur News on Sunday said that Nagamootoo would be making a big political mistake were he to follow through with such an approach.
They made it clear that the system has to be regularized. Towards this end, the officials emphasized that the illegalities in the Broadcasting sector, one of which includes the unlawful granting of radio and cable licences by Former President Bharat Jagdeo to his friends and “favourites”, must be addressed.
Significantly, Kaieteur News was also made aware by several officials within GNBA that all the prime spots for television channel frequencies, as well as cable are all gone because of the PPP’s ad hoc scheme.
They noted that while some space is still available in the radio spectrum for new applicants, some major spots are already taken up.
Considering this, some officials within GNBA and even critics outside of the entity are questioning Nagamootoo’s reasoning for favouring the award of new licences without addressing expeditiously, those illegally granted.
On several occasions, the Chairman of the GNBA Board, Leonard Craig, has been questioned on this state of affairs. Before Nagamootoo’s utterances to the media, Craig had failed to give any clear answer on the revocation of unlawful licences.
He would only say that the Board will host a press conference with the media. He made this promise last year and this year and it is yet to be fulfilled.
On Sunday, Craig told this newspaper that the Board has made no decision to rescind the licences but noted that legal advice suggests that it is better if the Board does not.
The Chairman also declined to reveal who the “legal minds are,” except to say that they are “well respected.”
Asked if the Board is inclined to follow the legal advice given, he responded, “The PM (Prime Minister) seems inclined. We work for him.”
With regard to the long awaited press conference, Craig said that the Board has a Public Relations Officer who will be handling that matter.
Speaking with this publication, University Professor, Dr. David Hinds said that his political view is that the licences should be rescinded.
The University Professor said that the capricious manner, in which the licences were granted by former President Bharrat Jagdeo, represents a grave injustice to those who were arbitrarily denied licences at the time.