Tax negotiations delaying telecoms liberalisation – Hughes

Negotiations between the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) have stalled the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, according to Minister of Telecommunications Catherine Hughes.

Hughes told an Alliance For Change news conference on Thursday that while the intention was to realise full liberalisation between July and August of this year, a requirement that GTT and GRA “work out tax issues,” which will impact the rest of the negotiations, has not been completed.

“GRA is solely independent. I have no jurisdiction or impact so I am waiting patiently for them to finish those negotiations,” Hughes said.

The minister noted, however, that a meeting between the two parties last week seemed to have ended on the right note.

“The tone of discussions seem productive and confident that we are moving ahead. Once that side is finished then we can push the process forward,” she added.

Meanwhile, Hughes also said the ministry is looking at the job description for members of the regulatory authority.

Hughes explained that according to the Telecommuni-cations Act, the National Frequency Management Unit will be submerged in the new telecommunications agency, to which individuals must apply for licences in terms of spectrum or any other area.

The enactment of the telecommunications legislation was expected to liberalise the sector by allowing new players in, thereby resulting in lower rates. “It is a process. The most important thing was passing the legislation that would allow other parties to come into the market and to increase competition and our hope is that with increased competition, rates would go down,” the minister told reporters at the ministry’s mid-year press conference in June.

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