The Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) have expressed concerns regarding the Telecommunication Bill’s lack of progress and have called for the government to resolve any issues delaying the legislation from being passed in the National Assembly. Stabroek News quotes GCCI president Clinton Urling as saying: ‘The time has come for us to hasten this process and get the legislation passed in the National Assembly. I believe that there has been, for some time, agreement on the desirability of a liberalised telecommunications sector and it seems to me that the National Assembly must address the issue of the passage of the legislation without any further delay.’ The announcement followed the most recent deferral of a second reading of the Bill, with PM Samuel Hinds claiming that the government was still involved in talks with incumbent Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) to resolve certain undisclosed issues relating to the legislation.
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the Telecommunications Bill will end GT&T’s monopoly on international termination and fixed line telephony, as well as reforming the current haphazard regulatory system. The first draft of the legislation was begun in 2009 and expected to be passed in September 2011. However, the bill was dropped at the eleventh hour, with the government saying that ‘significant comments’ made at the last minute required further consideration before bringing the bill into force. A statement made by the cabinet secretary, Roger Luncheon, shortly afterwards suggested that GT&T’s parent company Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) was involved and that the bill had been pulled to prevent litigation against the government.