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KINGSTON — Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon Daryl Vaz, is consulting with the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) on the proposed merger of telecommunications firms, Digicel and Claro.

Mr. Vaz told Wednesday's March 30 Post Cabinet press briefing, that the utilities and consumer watchdog agencies will be seeking to get details of the deal from both Digicel and Claro.

He was responding to questions as to how the new ICT policy he tabled in the House of Representatives Tuesday March 29, would affect the merger. He tabled a Green Paper, which was subsequently withdrawn and is to be replaced by a White Paper at the next sitting of the House.

He said that he has instructed that the OUR meet with Dicigel and Claro to get a better understanding of the deal, “because up until now, we don’t know”.

“It’s a commercial arrangement, and therefore we would never want for the Government to drag its feet…I am hoping that in short order we can get to the stage where a decision can be made,” Mr. Vaz explained.

Digicel recently announced that it has signed an agreement with América Móvil to acquire its Claro business in Jamaica, and to sell to América Móvil its businesses in Honduras and El Salvador.

Mr. Vaz explained that the major recommendations coming out of the ICT policy will provide for the harmonization of all existing laws pertaining to ICT, into a new Act and, where necessary repeal or amend legislation and promulgate new ones, to give effect to the policy.

He noted that the policy should have been in place from 2003, with the liberalization of the telecommunications sector.

“I am satisfied that there has been a level of agreement, as best as possible, and therefore, this will go a far way in continuing to make sure that liberalization continues and that the competition is there, with a level playing field,” Mr. Vaz asserted.

 

By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter