Monopoly-breaking telecoms legislation postponed again
After months of delay, government yesterday said that two critical Bills designed to open up the telecommunications sector will finally be debated in Parliament for approval by the end of the first quarter.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who is charged with overseeing the telecoms sector, in moving yesterday to again postpone the debate, said that government is attempting to reach an agreement so as to prevent any conflict when the matter “actually reaches” the National Assembly.
The Telecommunications Bill 2012 and Public Utilities Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012, have been lingering in the National Assembly since August and government has been postponing the debate while holding consultations with the two local telephone companies, Digicel (Guyana) and the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T).
GT&T has a monopoly on landline and international calls and Digicel has long been complaining it is being forced to route its international calls through GT&T, creating an unfair advantage.
Shortly before the 2011 General Elections, government at the last minute pulled the two Bills from the National Assembly.
This was after GT&T, 80% of which is owned by Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) of the US, acknowledged that it has a monopoly and was prepared to negotiate about the impending liberalisation.
Government has said that a number of companies are poised to enter the sector and the under-development is heavily affecting Guyana’s thrust.
Hinds admitted that the matter is a very difficult and challenging one.