CARICOM Secretariat, regional Utility Regulators hold talks
Representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat and the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) met on Friday, 5 April 2019, to discuss issues related to the harmonisation of the telecommunications regulatory framework in the CARICOM Single ICT Space.
The meeting was held via videoconferencing anchored in Guyana, and included virtual participation from some OOCUR members, including ECTEL, and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). The Meeting followed a mandate issued by the CARICOM Heads of Government at the Eighteenth Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) held in December 2018.
CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, Mr. Joseph Cox, welcomed participants to the meeting. He highlighted the approval of the Roadmap and the integrated workplan for the Single ICT Space by the Heads of Government in 2017.
He pointed out that ICT was now playing a role in all sectors and processes, and thus raised questions of “how to deal with growing pressure to adopt a converged regulatory regime and how to successfully realise the potential of alternative network infrastructures, how to develop suitable policy, among other things.”
“As a Region, how we treat with ICT opportunities and challenges – all underpinned by strong, effective regulatory frameworks – will signal how the Region will survive and thrive in the next decades to come,”he said.
He added that in the prevailing circumstances, OOCUR would be the main regional entity which will be relied on to provide relevant, credible information and guidance with regard to regulatory issues.
During the meeting, issues and concerns were raised regarding the current regulatory environment in the Region. Key amongst them were: the issues of harmonisation of ICT/Telecommunication policies, Data Roaming Charges, Number Portability and an effective Tax Regime within the Caribbean region. The need for collaboration and information exchange between government policy-makers and regulators was also flagged for attention.
OOCUR has committed to further collaborate with the CARICOM Secretariat on the activities of the Single ICT Space and to advance the discussion on the regulatory environment in the region.
The outcomes from this regulatory meeting will be forwarded to the Ministers of ICT at their May 2019 meeting to be held in Guyana.