Breaking the “stranglehold” on telecoms monopoly a victory for all Guyanese – Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall
Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, on Tuesday, expressed that it was necessary for Guyana to “break the stranglehold” that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) has had on the country’s telecommunications sector for over thirty years.
“We were able to unshackle ourselves from this stranglehold that one company had over us for a very long time,” the Attorney General declared during a programme he hosted on his Facebook page.
Nandlall posited that with the monopoly in the telecoms sector now being broken, Guyanese can now expect more reliable and cheaper telephone, mobile and internet services.
“We have gained a great victory, Guyanese now can expect a number of operators, can expect competition…faster internet and most importantly, at a cheaper price,” he assured.
Nandlall detailed that efforts to end the telecoms monopoly started since 2008 and continued under successive governments.
“We have been working on this since 2008…twelve years in succession, we have spent millions upon millions of dollars in hiring consultants, we have spent thousands of man-hours working on this bill, night and day, to get it where we have reached,” he explained.
Noting its historic significance, the Minister said that with the removal of the monopoly, the playing field is now levelled and it is now open to operators everywhere to allow for  improved and reliable telephone and internet services.
He said that GTT and the other mobile operator are free to stay, adding; “their status, their license, their powers, their privileges, their benefits, were not interfered with at all, whatever they enjoyed under the previous Act, this new Act that we brought into force, they continue to enjoy”.
In a statement on Monday evening, Prime Minister Mark Phillips announced that the Government of Guyana issued commencement orders effectively liberalising the telecommunications sector by operationalising the “Telecommunications Act 2016” and the “Public Utilities Act 2016”.
This in effect brought to an end the 30-year monopoly on telecommunications in Guyana.
“It is anticipated that Guyanese will feel an immediate positive impact from the implementation of these legislations, which create a modern and competitive environment for telecommunications, and which will immediately result in greater choices, a better quality of service and lower prices for consumers,” the Prime Minister said.
Already on Tuesday, Prime Minister Phillips handed over operational licences and accompanying documents to three service providers within the telecommunications sector. The documents were issued during a simple ceremony in the boardroom of the Office of the Prime Minister, to representatives of GTT, Digicel and E-Networks.
The Telecommunications Bill was first introduced in the National Assembly during the ninth Parliament by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government in 2011, and it was then reintroduced during the tenth Parliament in 2012 after extensive consultations with both public and private operators.
According to the Prime Minister, it is inexplicable as to why the former Administration denied Guyanese the full benefits of liberalisation by only enforcing small sections of the Act in 2018 and 2019 respectively, although the bill was enacted since 2016 with bipartisan support.