Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): With the increasing use of technology among the population of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Vincent Byron, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, said it was time to reform the Telecommunications Act of 2020 to preserve the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) and protect consumers.
During the sitting of the Federal Parliament, on February 18, 2021, Attorney General Byron outlined the scope of the reform and noted that the NTRC, established in 2020 under the previous Act, will be preserved and strengthened, as its powers will be expanded under the Electronic Communications Bill, 2021.
“What we say… it is time to reform the existing telecoms legislative framework. The new Bill will preserve the NTRC…the NTRC will have more umph,” Minister Byron said, adding that the NTRC will have a statutory body that will enable it to pursue legal matters against telecommunication companies, issue and regulate licenses, as well as protect the rights of consumers.
Minister Byron commented that too often the existing telecommunication service providers may disadvantage customers and leave them dissatisfied. He said that the Electronics Communications Bill, 2021, is expected to protect the welfare of the consumer.
“Many of our public are dissatisfied with the services often provided by the service providers…the Bill gives more teeth in protecting consumers and getting redress from service providers,” he stated.
Minister Byron further stated that in some member countries, competition and consumer choice are staunch as companies “collude” with each other to monopolize the communications industry. Such actions infringe on the right of the consumer to choose and by extension may place the country at an economic disadvantage. He said that under this reformed Bill the telecommunication companies operating within the Federation will be hindered from engaging in such activities.
“The new Bill allows for there to be more structure, more negotiations and for your jurisdiction to get involved and protect consumers,” he added
The Electronic Communications Bill, 2021, which was successfully passed in the Federal Parliament on Thursday, February 18, 2021, will enable the government to meet its mandate of moving the country towards becoming a productive digital state.