Telecoms bill, criminal violence motion put off again

Debate on three Bills including the Telecommunications Bill 2012 as well as a motion was yesterday deferred to the next sitting of Parliament.

Also deferred were the Customs (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Public Utilities Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012 and the motion for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the incidence of criminal violence from 2004 to 2010 in Guyana.

Prime Minister Sam Hinds speaking in Parliament yesterday. (Arian Browne photo)
Prime Minister Sam Hinds speaking in Parliament yesterday. (Arian Browne photo)

Before Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh could rise to make a statement in relation to the Customs (Amendment) Bill, AFC Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan told the House that his party had already indicated to Minister Singh that the AFC would like to see more stakeholder comments because “we did indicate to the Private Sector Commission and the chamber of commerce that we would like to have their comment. They have not yet done so …not having that (we) request of the minister that this be deferred…to the next session”.

Singh in response said that he would defer it. He said that the government has no difficulty “providing an opportunity for another round of consultations”. He told the House that government has also had consultations with the private sector.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said he had indicated that the government and the two main providers of telecommunications services are in a course of discussions with the aim of reaching some agreements so that the laws when passed would not be subject to any course of going to the courts.

“Therefore I beg again that the second reading of the Telecommunications Bill be deferred and that the related Public Utilities Commission (Amendment) Bill be also deferred”.

Early last month, the House again delayed the debate on the Telecommunications Bill and on that occasion Hinds had stated that the Administration was still locked in talks with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited (GT&T) over issues of liberalization. The Bill provides for an open, liberalized and competitive telecommunications sector that will be attractive to new market entrants and investors while preserving the activities of current sector participants.

Later, the motion for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the incidence of criminal violence from 2004 to 2010 in Guyana in the name of the Leader of the Opposition David Granger was also deferred.

Granger in addressing the House made a request for the “discussions on this matter be deferred again”. No reason for the delay in the beginning of the debate on the issue was given and there were no objections from the other side of the House.

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