Oct 07, 2015 News
The new coalition government is in the final stages of the liberalization of the local Telecommunications Industry, as the draft laws are nearing completion.
But unlike its previous version, which was set to automatically grant telecommunications licences to a select few, all interested in such will now have to re-apply.
This position was disclosed by Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, who met with media operatives on Monday last at his Wight’s Lane, Kingston Office and said that the two related Bills are almost completed and will shortly be laid in the National Assembly. He did not provide a more detailed timeline.
“I can’t say if it will be done next week but it will be done this year,” Patterson said. He said, government had retained two consultants to put together a draft of the new Bills and this has been completed and returned to the administration.
“Both the draft of the Telecommunications Bill and the draft amended PUC (Public Utilities Commission) Bill is right now with our Cabinet Sub-Committee, it is being circulated,” Patterson disclosed.
According to the Public Infrastructure Minister, the drafts will now have to be vetted to ensure they are compliant with the provisions required by the administration.
Patterson explained that, “as long as it passes through that process, it goes to the CPC (Chief Parliamentary Counsel) and then to Cabinet and then soon after we will lay it in Parliament.”
The Public Infrastructure Minister reiterated that government is looking to have the legislation and inherent liberalization approved of the sector by the end of the year.
Minister Patterson was also asked to respond to whether the automatic licensing of named companies will be kept in the draft legislation.
He told media operatives that all aspirants will be required to re-apply for their telecommunications licences.
“From the draft Bill that we have, everyone is eligible to re-apply,” according to Patterson.
Under the previous administration, a similar Bill was crafted which revealed one of the most shocking and unprecedented occurrences anywhere in the world.
It identified companies which would automatically be handed a Telecommunications Licence when the legislation is passed.
GT&T and Digicel are already holders of Telecommunications Licences.
A Telecommunications Licence is a valuable document as it allows its holder to provide any internet-related service, including the sale of bandwidth, cable television and mobile/cellular.
Two of the companies named in the then proposed law to be automatically handed Telecommunications Licences are E-Networks and Quark Communications Inc.
E-Networks have as its shareholders, Vishok Persaud and his sister Member of Parliament, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, both the children of former PPP Bigwig, the late Reepu Daman Persaud; Keith Evelyn and Rakesh Puri.
Quark Communications has as its shareholders as former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s niece, Subrina Singh, Winston Brassington and Brian Yong, a close friend of the former President.
Interestingly, Quark has its base of operations in a compound at Versailles, West Bank Demerara, which belongs to none other than Jagdeo’s best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop.
Another private company slated to be handed a Telecommunications Licence is iNet Communications Inc.
This company has as its principals, Dr. Bobby Ramroop, his secretary Valerie Khan and one of his Directors, Roopnarine Ramcharitar, among others.
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