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Minister Thompson: C&W has new attitude

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The relationship between the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Cable & Wireless is now a “generally good partnership,” according to Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. This is a far cry from what obtained a few years ago when his administration came to office in 2001.

The Prime Minister recounted that there was the “long standing problem which Government considered needed to be settled.” According to the prime minister, a tax audit had been carried out on the telecommunications giant, and the audit determined that Cable & Wireless owed government “a substantial amount in taxes.” He added, “The ‘ancien regime’ (at Cable & Wireless) was dismissive and derisive to Government.”{{more}}

The Prime Minister made it clear that it was “not a case of Cable & Wireless being dishonest, but rather, both parties having a different understanding of what the tax laws meant.

“The basis of any good partnership is truth. Once we are honest with each other, we can have a good relationship. Through …the wisdom of new management internationally,” both parties settled on the amount of EC$17.5M as the amount underpaid in taxes. The Prime Minister thanked Executive Vice President for Cable & Wireless East, Paul Aspin for his leadership role in helping the parties come to an agreement.

The Prime Minister added that in his first meeting with the Executive Vice-President, he told him that the matter of the underpayment of taxes had to be settled first. “Government would not invest in this new programme if Cable & Wireless owed money.”

The prime minister was speaking on the occasion of the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Monday September 12, to launch an EC$6 million pilot Information and Communication Technology driven literacy programme in which the Government and Cable & Wireless are partners.

The Prime Minister’s position was supported by Minister of Telecommunications, Dr. Jerrol Thompson who described the relationship between Cable & Wireless and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines a few years ago as “quite contentious.”

He added, “Cable & Wireless has undergone corporate restructuring and now have a new attitude to customer service and a deeper understanding of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ needs in terms of national development.”

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