The long awaited Telecommunications Bill was hailed as a “landmark” piece of legislation on Monday by Telecommunications Minister Catherine Hughes as she initiated what turned out to be a lengthy debate in the National Assembly.
Despite opposition MPs rejecting the Bill in its current form and recommending that it be sent to a Special Select Committee where it had spent months during the 10th Parliament, the Bill was passed on Monday night with a majority vote from the government benches.
The Bill paves the way for the establishment of the Telecommunications Agency and for a regular, coordinated, open and competitive telecommunications sector.
Minister Hughes was the first to note that the Bill’s passage was symbolic of the beginning of a new open and competitive telecommunications sector in Guyana.
“This Bill is a major breakthrough for the telecommunication sector in Guyana… it has long been promised and I am proud to present it for debate and passage,” she told the National Assembly.
The Minister said it shows this government’s commitment to the development and progress of the country as it looks to build a 21st century economy.
But the Bill’s passage was no smooth sailing. A total of six opposition MPs spoke during the debate and all rejected the Bill.
The urging from the Opposition benches was to have the Bill sent to a Special Select Committee for review.
The Opposition was particularly critical of the role of the Minister with Irfaan Ali accusing the government of moving the sector from a monopoly to a dictatorship with the powers that now rests with the Minister.
But the government MPs have assured that the apparent overreaching arm of the Minister was not something to worry about.
Minister Hughes challenged the PPP on this and said it was time to bring Guyana up to speed and end years of lagging behind