Gov’t must liberalise telecoms – Urling

GCCI president Clinton Urling is calling on government to liberalise the telecommunications industry as the chamber is taking steps to develop ICT as a productive sector critical to the nation’s long-term economic development.

“It is a cross-cutting component of every productive sector,” Urling said in his introduction at a technology seminar held yesterday.

The Chamber is now beginning to develop a series of initiatives in support of the development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a productive sector by raising awareness about its economic potential, the need for supporting legislation and other national ICT policies.

The planned debate and expected passage of two bills to liberalise the sector have been deferred for months to allow for negotiations on the liberalisation. During a May sitting of the National Assembly, Prime Minister Sam Hinds announced the further deferment of the two connected Bills – the Telecommunications Bill 2012 and the Public Utilities Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012. He said that the government was continuing its review of the bills, which were first introduced in the House two years ago. Hinds said that meetings would be held with GT&T and Digicel and that the bills would move forward this month.

According to Urling, public-private partnerships will drive development of the sector; with government laying the necessary infrastructure to complement its efforts. Business professionals need to acquaint themselves with new technologies that might be adopted to support or control a business process, enable management decisions or provide a competitive advantage; and to evaluate the costs, benefits and usefulness of each.

He noted that enterprise systems are being implemented in both the public and private sector to improve efficiency and increase output leading to a better customer service experience. Further, the development of E-business platforms has created new ways of working within and across organisations; though he cautioned that businesses should not attempt to lead organizational transformation through technology but start with people, and the implementation of effective processes.

Urling also said that the threat of cyber-crime must be understood and measures implemented to address this, both at the corporate and national levels, noting that Jamaica has implemented the Cyber Crimes Act and has established a cyber crime unit in its police force. “We also need to deal with the issue of digital content and intellectual property rights. We need a fully modernized IP system of laws to protect our digital content,” he said.

 

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