The state of the swimming pool at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport has been a sore point for decades. Current principal of the institution, Dr Joyce Graham-Royal, said it will cost $91 million to repair the facility, which has never been used since it was built in 1980. In late 2014, Minister of Sport Natalie Neita-Headley had announced that Government would be donating the funds to repair the pool via the Sports Development Foundation. However, Graham-Royal told The Gleaner yesterday that she had since learned that the funds, which had been earmarked for the pool work, had been spent on refurbishing the synthetic track at the institution, which was reopened last October. The track cost $171 million to repair. Graham-Royal said because of the clay soil at the Spanish Town-based sporting college, repairing the track had cost much more than the projected figure. Successive principals over the last few years have threshed around with the idea and as recently as 2008, the estimate to repair the Olympic-sized swimming and diving pools was at $50 million. GETTING THE MONEY Graham-Royal, who became principal of the institution in 2014, said fixing the pool will be her next ‘big’ project and said she does not intend to begin the project until she is sure she has all the money to complete it as she does not want to start and not be able to finish. “(I need) at least three quarters of it because it wouldn’t make sense; it means work would have stopped,” she told The Gleaner. Students of the school, who train to be teachers of physical education, must now use a tiny pool in Old Harbour for swimming lessons. “So I have to pay more than $10,000 monthly for them to learn to swim. You’re not a complete PE teacher until you’re able to swim,” Graham-Royal, herself a graduate of the G.C. Foster College, who later studied abroad, said. “When I went to the University of Mainz in Germany to study, I could not graduate until I learned to swim,” she added. Meanwhile, Graham-Royal also noted that the institution as also losing money as there were some interested parties who would have used the facility had it been operational. “Just this morning some students from a university in Canada called. They had a contingent of 50 and wanted to come for the summer,” she said. “So we are missing all of that. We really do need some private sector injection. We can’t do it otherwise,” she concluded.
– warns amendment could increase Govt’s liability riskA recent decision made by Government to raise the current debt ceiling guarantee to $50 billion has been criticised by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who claimed that this move will increase the Government’s liability risk. Jagdeo said although the decision was made in Parliament, he noted that it was done sneakily.The Opposition Leader claimed that after Speaker of the House, Dr Barton Scotland indicated that Private Members Business was done for the day, he packed up and left, only to find out later that the issue was reopened. “What they did last week in Parliament, surreptitiously, at the last hour,” he explained.According to him, the amendment could be applicable to the loans that Government has taken. “I suspect this is to facilitate the $30 million bond and maybe the bridge across the Demerara River (New Demerara River Crossing),” he stated. But Jagdeo said he is still convinced that these are huge financial risks.While Finance Minister Winston Jordan tried to convince the National Assembly during its last sitting that Government will do better in repaying this $30 million bond, Jagdeo argued that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government managed to secure a lower interest rate for Marriott.“In the case of Marriott’s failure to service the loan, then the Government will have to step in and service the loan. The intention was to sell that project in the first place. So once you sold that property it was the private developer’s responsibility to service the loan and not the Government,” he added.Jagdeo, an economist, explained further that in that case, the hotel’s assets would be used to collateralise the loan. And in case where the person who owns fails to pay, the bank can levy on the property.He said, “But he (Jordan) has now brought that into the Treasury. The loan was collateralised using the assets of the Marriott by taking the loan and bringing it to the Treasury.”The former Head of State is suspicious that Government will do the same for the $30 million bond that they are negotiating for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).During the last sitting of the National Assembly on May 11, Government used its one seat majority to pass a motion that extends the ceiling for the State to guarantee debts, to up $50 billion, for any project upon which the Government wishes to embark upon.While the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) was in Opposition, it had rejected a motion to raise the debt ceiling to the required level with respect to the Amaila Falls Hydro Project and as such, the project was killed.Jagdeo outlined that in relation to the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, the PPP Government was not guaranteeing a debt but was guaranteeing contingent liability. In other words, Government would have only become liable if the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) refused to buy the power or pay for the power bought under a Power Purchase Agreement.Jagdeo said by providing a Government guarantee through the debt ceiling amendment, the Finance Minister has shifted the liability onto the Treasury.His party in a press statement on the issue had said that the passage of the bill paves the way for Guyana to once again be on the road towards “financial and economic bankruptcy.”In February 2018, it was disclosed that the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICILs) Special Purpose Unit (SPU) was seeking $30 billion in loans via a syndicated bond to support GuySuCo and its remaining estates.The funding, it was outlined, would cover a four-year period and will provide capital, support infrastructure maintenance and upgrades at Albion, Blairmount and Uitvlugt.The monies are also expected to go towards developing new co-generation capacity for the estate operations and the national electric grid. Government has since secured this loan.Additionally, in early April 2018, Minister Jordan said “Guyana has not received any loans from the Islamic Development Bank [IsDB]”; however he noted that “the IsDB has a resource envelope of US$900 million that is potentially available from which the Government of Guyana can borrow.”In response, Jagdeo said that the coalition Administration was pawning the future of Guyana. He said the debt accumulated from 2015 to 2018, plus the $30 billion from Republic Bank, coupled with the US$900 million which the PPP predicts Government will borrow from the Islamic Development Bank, doubles the total debt which the PPP had left after 24 years in Government. (Samuel Sukhnandan)
T-Mobile and Viacom in the US have unveiled a landmark deal that will bring Viacom TV channels including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount to T-Mobile’s new mobile video service, which is scheduled to launch later this year.John LegereThe agreement will allow T-Mobile to offer live, linear feeds of the Viacom channels as well as on-demand viewing. Analysts see it as a further attack on the traditional big bundle PayTV packages that characterised the industry until the advent of SVOD.“Viacom represents the best of the best, most-popular brands on cable, so they are an amazing partner for us,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, in a statement. “TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS. And MacGyvering together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn’t much better. That’s why T-Mobile is on a mission to give consumers a better way to watch what they want, when they want.”“Today’s landmark announcement marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms,” added Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish. “We’re excited to partner with T-Mobile to provide millions of subscribers with access to our networks and more choice.”Not much detail is available on T-Mobile’s mobile TV plans at this point. For example, it is not clear how it will package content or whether it will bundle its TV service with its mobile plans. When launched the service will be available to 80 million customers.