Government is working feverishly to ensure the full liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in Guyana, says Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes.
The Minister gave her assurance that Government was working towards a July deadline to have the country’s first Telecommunications Agency operationalised.
“We at the Ministry, we are working to create the new regulatory body…that will manage this new environment,” she stated.
Hughes said the most important step was to pass the legislation that would allow for other parties to join the local telecommunications market and to increase competition, which would hopefully lead to lowered rates.
The Minister also disclosed that negotiations with both Atlantic Tele Network (ATN) and GTT on the matter were ongoing.
“…We are working towards a July time frame. Even if we miss it, I am hoping that before we get into the final quarter, we would have created an environment where more players come into the market.”
At least two verbal enquiries from two other companies who are seeking to set up business here have been made with the Public Telecommunications Ministry. The Minister did not disclose the names of the companies, because she said there was nothing concrete to report.
Hughes also used the opportunity to praise both GTT and Digicel, stating these companies have made huge contributions to mobile services in Guyana.
“We are very grateful that GTT and Digicel have both played an important role in the development of our telecommunications industry. And we could not be doing what we are doing now without the groundwork they have done,” she added.
The Telecommunications Bill was first introduced in 2011.However, it was revised in 2013 before being sent to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee in the 10th Parliament, and was near conclusion when that Parliament was prorogued in 2014 by the then President, Donald Ramotar.
When the legislation was taken before the National Assembly by the Government, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had called for the Bill to be sent to a Special Select Committee for further consideration, but Minister Hughes had argued that the Bill had been long promised and was overdue.
The sector, she emphasised, must be an open one, so that the country can progress and not lag behind its sister Caricom countries and the rest of the world.
The legislation provides for the fostering of an open, competitive telecoms sector to which investors will be attracted, and in which a fair, competitive environment for sector participants is created.