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Electronic Communication Bill to be revised

Electronic Communication Bill to be revised

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Plans are in place for a new Electronic Communication Bill for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Local stakeholders in the telecommunications sector were involved a consultation for the provisioning of the Bill on Tuesday, November 23.

The purpose of the revised Bill is to reform the legislation relating to telecommunications in the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications (ECTEL) member states by repealing and replacing the former Telecommunications Act.

The revised Bill is aimed at allowing liberalized and non-discriminatory entry into the electronic communications sector, while creating a robust, competitive environment that is broader in scope to encompass all electronic communications.

Kenneth Douglas, Chairman of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), expressed that the telecommunications landscape today is far different to that when the first Bill was drafted in 2000.

“The former Act was broad to be inclusive. However, it created some uncertainties that created gaps which needed to be looked at,” Douglas explained.

He added that the creators of the previous Bill did not anticipate the fast integration of services.

“The Telecommunications Act is 10 years old and some consider that it has outlived its life,” Douglas said.

He added that the regulatory regime should be flexible to permit further introduction of new services.

Minister of Telecommunications Dr. Jerrol Thompson said that he believed the drafting of a new Bill was one of the most important initiatives of this era.

“It is critical for the development of not just St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but the region as well,” Thompson explained.

He noted that during the 1990s into early 2000 there were a lot of changes. However, Thompson was of the opinion that the previous Act did not fully embrace all the areas of ICT as it should.

He further contended that when the governments of the region made the decision to liberalize the telecommunications sector, it was thought that the Caribbean would become the Mecca of ICT.

But this notion did not materialize due to the poor legislative framework, Thompson said.

“I believe this draft goes some distance of embracing ICT, particularly as it focuses on the relationship between ECTEL and governments,” he said.

The ECTEL commissioners will be taking the draft Bill throughout member states to conduct similar sessions. (DD)

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