…Minister promises full liberalization by May
by Gary Eleazar
Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications in Guyana, Catherine Hughes, promises that the sector will be fully liberalized by the end of May, complete with the accompanying regulations and the establishment of the Telecommunications Agency.
Hughes was at the time responding to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), Justin Nedd, who Monday again lamented the uneven competition that currently obtains among communication providers in Guyana.
He was at the time speaking at the launch of the GTT’s LTE internet service for the Essequibo Coast.
Government, he said, “is key stakeholder in helping us to bridge the digital divide.”
Speaking to the imminent liberalization of the telecommunications sector, Nedd told those gathered at the Anna Regina car park tarmac “we are on the verge of something really big with liberalization.”
According to GTT’s CEO with the advent of full liberalization, “we believe we will be finally free from uneven competition and will get fair and even regulation to all businesses in sector.”
Hughes did not respond directly to the GTT CEO in her presentation to the Essequibians, but later told media operatives in an invited comment that it is expected that everything should be in place for the full liberalization of the sector by April or the end of May.
She recalled that the legislation has already been passed and assented to by Head of State, President David Granger and that the regulations are currently being finalized, even as the administration is in the final stages of setting up the required Telecoms Agency.
According to Hughes, Government is currently in talks with GTT and Digicel which would have been provided with a matrix of requirements.
The Minister told media operatives while the legislation has already been assented to by the President, it still needs to be brought into operation but this will require the establishment of the Telecommunications Agency in addition to the regulations being completed.
On the matter of setting up the Telecommunications Agency, Minister Hughes said, “right now as we speak, we are looking at staffing structure,” in addition to the merger of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) into that agency.
Minister Hughes related that the administration is currently reviewing applications that would have been submitted for that body, in addition to the formulating of job descriptions and other such administrative requirements.
On the matter of the regulations, Minister Hughes said the Telecommunications Ministry did not receive the response it was looking for and as such had to extend the consultation period.
According to Hughes, the Ministry has written to about 25 agencies including the GTT, Digicel, the Citizens Advisory Bureau and a number of other agencies.
The original deadline had to be extended on two occasions according to Minister. She said the Ministry is currently reviewing the submissions with a view to seeing if any alterations would have to be made to the complex sleuth of the seven sets of regulations for the sector.