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–Berbice Bridge now claims imminent insolvencyGovernment is moving to introduce water taxis amidst an ongoing row with the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI).But the company is insisting that it has racked up accumulated losses of $1.5B up to the end of last year and could face insolvency unless it can restructure its financing.Speaking on the standoff, yesterday, during Government’s weekly press briefings, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said that the decision to place the covered passenger speedboats was taken by the Cabinet of Ministers’ earlier this week.Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, reportedly submitted a proposal for the passengers speedboats to the Cabinet. The water taxis will be used to transport mainly students and senior citizens.Government, based on assessments of how well the boats are working,Wholesale Jerseys 2018, will then decide on the next steps.The move by Government would signal clear intent that there is no backing down by the administration, with Harmon also admitting yesterday that the agreement that BBCI has with the Government of Guyana is also being reviewed.The new Government, while on the campaign trail in the lead-up of the May 11 General and Regional Elections,NCAA Basketball Jerseys, which it won, had vowed to reduce the tolls.On August 10, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, announced in the National Budget that tolls for cars will be reduced from $2,200 to $1,900. For other categories of vehicles, the decrease will be 10 percent.However, according to Government, BBCI has been using delaying tactics.In the first instance,Deion Jones Falcons Jersey, Directors of the US$40M bridge as the September 1, deadline for the tolls reduction implementation approached, said it wanted its shareholders to have the final say.The bridge company then insisted that it wanted a toll increase or an extension from the 21 years it had to manage the facility, to 40 years. The toll increase would be subsidized by Government.Harmon said yesterday that Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan,Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale, has been mandated to continue engaging the Directors of the bridge company on the toll reduction.“We are of the firm belief that very soon the bridge company… whose directors referred the matter to the shareholders…that they will see the light and move to have the tolls reduced.”The Government spokesman made it clear that it is the administration’s duty to provide the necessary infrastructure and regulatory framework.He explained that initially the “two launches” similar to the covered ones operating between Vreed-en-Hoop and Georgetown, will be put into operations. The vessels will not belong to the state.A special committee that would include representatives from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Protection and Ministry of Public Security is expected to travel to Berbice over this weekend to fine tune the details, including locations.Harmon also disclosed that there was a loophole in the agreement between the Government and the bridge company, which while blocking vessels from transporting vehicles across the Berbice River, does not say anything about passengers.Over a week ago, Minister Jordan had also made it clear that the Berbice River does not belong to BBCI.The BBCI situation has been angering the new administration especially after it was disclosed that private businesses were allowed to invest five percent into the construction of the bridge which was opened in December 2008 but managed to gain ownership control of almost 50 percent of the equity.There was disbelief when it was learnt that New GPC and Queens Atlantic Inc., two companies owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, a close friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, were able to install two Directors on the Board of Directors while Government of Guyana had little say in the affairs of BBCI.BBCI claimed it has not paid any dividends to any of its ordinary shareholders since its 2008 opening. The ordinary shareholders are Secure International Finance Company Limited, National Insurance Scheme (NIS), New GPC Inc., Queens Atlantic Investment Incorporated (QAII); Hand-in-Hand Mutual Fire Insurance Co Limited and Demerara Contractors & Engineering Limited.BBCI did not immediately disclose what dividends it paid to the investors who plugged cash in the construction. These included NIS; Demerara Bank; New Building Society,Cheap NFL Jerseys, Bank of Nova Scotia; Citizens Bank; Republic Bank; Guyana Bank For Trade and Industry; Hand-in-Hand Trust Corporation; Trust Company (Guyana); Hand-in-Hand Mutual Life Assurance; North American Life Insurance; North American Fire Insurance; Guyana Geology and Mines Commission; Guyana Power and Light Inc; Guyana Sugar and Trade Enterprise-Pension; Hand-in-Hand Trust Pension’ GAWU-Pension; Demerara Distillers Limited; New GPC Inc; T. Geddes Grant Guyana and New and Massy Pension Scheme.NIS also has preferred shares.
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