Even as Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) and Digicel, Guyana’s main mobile service providers, roll out the long-awaited 4G internet service, government is yet to table the Telecommunications Bill which will see the liberalisation of the telecoms sector. However when contacted, Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes told Guyana Times the Bill is currently with the Attorney General’s Chambers for legal vetting. She added that she is hoping to get the piece of legislation to Parliament before the end of this month.
“The bill is receiving the attention of the Attorney General’s Chambers. It is my hope that it will come to the parliament before the end of May,” she stressed. GTT currently holds a 20-plus year monopoly over the sector and stakeholders, particularly Digicel, has long been calling for this monopoly to be broken.
The Telecoms Bill, which was first introduced in 2011 and revised in 2013, was with a Special Select Committee in the 10th Parliament and was near conclusion when parliament was prorogued in 2014. It is among 12 other Bills that were recalled in the 11th Parliament. Meanwhile, under the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration, the Bill underwent a new set of consultations with the two main players in mobile service and other stakeholders including the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and several non-governmental organisations before it was submitted to Cabinet.
Government had even appointed two overseas consultants Janice Brendman and Geeta Ragubir to complete the work on the Bill. The Telecommunications Bill seeks to create a competitive regime in the telecommunications sector. It provides for an open, liberalised and competitive sector that will be attractive to new market entrants and investors, while preserving the activities of the current participants.
By creating this competitive environment for telecommunications, the Bill is expected to result in greater choice, better quality of service and lower prices to consumers. The Bill also specifically addresses the expansion of telecommunication networks and services into unserved and under-served areas, through the institution of a new universal access/universal service programme, in an effort to further national, regional, social and economic development. (Reprinted: Guyana Times)