National Telecommunications Agency in effect- NFMU to be dissolved
–NFMU to be dissolved, workers to be absorbed by the new agency
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes has announced that she has signed a commencement order on Friday last, paving the way for the formal establishment of the National Telecommunications Agency (NATA).
According to the Telecommunications Act 2016, the agency will be responsible for the finalisation of licensing procedures in preparation for liberalisation and issuance of new licenses to telecommunication entities.
The commencement order, which took effect on the day it was signed,has cleared the way for the Ministry of Public Telecommunications (MoPT)to make the necessary administrative arrangements for the agency to function effectively when the entire Telecommunications Act is brought into force, said Minister Hughes during a press conference at her Camp Street office on Monday.
“Some of the things that the agency needs are its internal governance arrangements such as financial regulations, human resources policies and rules and procedures for the board,” Minister Hughes said, adding that the Telecommunications Act stipulates that a Board of Directors be appointed to govern the affairs of the agency.
Telecommunications Consultant, Andre Griffith explained that the Board will discharge the functions of the agency and regulate its own procedures.
“A lot of recommendations for the agency that were prepared by us at the ministry will be brought into effect by the Board, which will be responsible for reviewing, refining and amending them,” he said.
Prior to the establishment of the agency, the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) was in charge of regulating the spectrum. But according to the Telecommunications Act, once the agency is active, the NFMU has to be dissolved.
Griffith told reporters that one of the main reasons for activating NATA so early,is to ensure that the staff from the NFMU is absorbed by the agency.
Minister Hughes was confident that most, if not all, of the staff from the unit will be retained, since there will be a heavy need for services in terms of spectrum management,frequencies and even pricing.
“I do not envision people being laid off,” the minister said, adding that the function of transitioning the staff will be carried out by the soon-to-be-appointed Board.
That announcement brought another constitutional body, the Public Utilities Commission(PUC)under scrutiny,since that entity was responsible for pricing.
The telecommunications consultant explained that under the Telecommunications Act 2016, Sections 19, 20 and 21 outlines the separation of duties among the minister, PUC and the agency.
“There is a separation that is specified in the act…I do not think there is scope for confusion among the three regulatory entities and therefore the PUC will remain responsible for pricing,’’ he said.
He reiterated that the Act on the other hand will allow the agency to enforce the necessary provisions; and empower the minister to give policy directions to the agency.
All of those issues will be sorted out during the preparatory period, while the ministry continues its negotiation with the Guyana Telecommunications Telegraph (GTT) Company, said Griffith, noting that they hope to bring it to a close to allow for the implementation of the Liberalisation Act.
Minister Hughes also referred to the negotiations, stating that the Liberalisation Act must be fully in place before the agency is required to start regulations.
Although the minister said they are not focused on getting the negotiations done in a short space of time, she did say that they hope to finish soon, but with a result that suits everyone and a deal that the government is happy with.
Source: Guyana Chronicle