Jan 29, 2018 News
…Bill expected to be tabled this year
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes said that Government is preparing for a liberalised telecommunication industry by putting in place enabling legislation, including the highly anticipated copyright bill.
“Copyright legislation is on our legislative agenda for 2018. That and one that covers electronic payment transactions,” Hughes stated.
After years of little progress to attract new telephone companies, in July 2016 Guyana managed to pass the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill in 2016. It would be part of the process of liberalising the sector and allowing new players to enter the market.
However, one and half years later, negotiations are still ongoing with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), the US-owned entity that has monopoly on paper on landlines and international calls.
While the talks with GT&T are progressing, the Government has moved ahead to establish the National Telecommunications Agency. It was envisioned that the agency would have come on stream once the talks with GT&T had ended.
Minister Hughes stated that the bank of Guyana and Ministry of Finance are already looking at financial payment systems and the enabling legislation, Electronic Communication and Transaction Bill.
“All these are the things that are part of the enabling environment that’s necessary,” Hughes noted.
Hughes said that negotiations with GT&T were being conducted in an extremely “cordial manner”. She noted that GTT and its parent company, US-owned Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN), have had a monopoly situation for more than 20 years when it came to the telecoms industry here.
With talks ongoing to break that monopoly, Hughes said, it is understandable that stakeholders will want to ensure that in coming to the table, the best deal is made for Guyana.
Stressing that her Ministry has no input in the financial side of things, the Minister said that the competition will bring several more positive opportunities for citizens.
With tax breaks and other issues with GRA, the telephone company has been holding out for a number of concessions.
However, GRA is mindful of the implications of giving special treatment to GTT. Hughes stated that there will be no special privileges.
GTT competitor is Digicel which has expressed an interest in also landing a fibre optic cable.
Digicel has been aggressive, too, in competing with GTT on the mobile market, but under the current arrangement is supposed to route foreign calls through GTT.
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