Wheatley Chides Paulwell on Number Portability Delays & Overall Stewardship of ICT Sector

Release Date: 
Monday, June 1, 2015 - 14:30

Dr. Andrew Wheatley, Opposition Spokesman on Science, ICT & Digital Society Development has slammed portfolio Minister, Phillip Paulwell, for yet another delay in the implementation of Number Portability. Number portability was scheduled for implementation on June 1.

Dr. Wheatley stated: “This is now the fifth delay in relation to the implementation of number portability, and quite frankly, the Jamaican people are frustrated and have grown wary of Minister Paulwell's knack for grand announcements without actual implementation. Regardless of the challenges that have led to this latest false start, Minister Paulwell must be made to realize that the buck stops with him.”

Dr. Wheatley pointed out: "Minister Paulwell has been shifting the timeline for implementation over the past 3 years, and this latest foul-up is confirmation that he did not, and perhaps still does not have a clue as to what is required to successfully implement number portability. These delays not only prevent the Jamaican consumer from benefiting from the ability to switch telecoms service providers without changing their phone numbers, but the possibility of attracting a new entrant into the telecoms market to improve competition will lessen even more as a result of the Minister's continued uncertainty and mismanagement.”

The Opposition Spokesman continued: “I will go as far as to say, the Minister has shown utter contempt for the Jamaican consumer by continuing to allow telecoms providers to miss these deadlines without stiff penalties."

Dr. Wheatley said: "The Government's failure to implement any discernible or meaningful public education campaign aimed at informing consumers of their entitlements and provider responsibilities upon the implementation of number portability is also major cause for concern. The Opposition is recommending that the Ministry immediately implement a comprehensive public awareness program that will inform consumers about how number portability will work, and what they are entitled to, so that when it starts, they already understand it.”

Dr. Wheatley went on to chide Paulwell’s overall stewardship of the ICT sector by stating: “For the past 3 years we have seen lackluster performance by the Minister in charge of the ICT sector. He has missed his own deadlines as it relates to the tabling of the ICT Act, the Data Protection Act, and the establishment of the Single ICT Regulator. Additionally, a recent local report has shown that the much touted deployment of community access points island-wide has met very little success despite the millions of dollars spent. Jamaica's poor ranking in various international reports is incontrovertible evidence that the Minister does not have a firm handle on his portfolio, and has not been steering the ICT sector in the right direction.”

In closing, Wheatley called on the Prime Minister to: “Bring Minister Paulwell to book over his failures in effectively managing the ICT sector. Paulwell is not getting the job done and he must be held accountable. If he is allowed to continue managing the portfolio in this way it will lead to disastrous outcomes for the ICT sector; a sector which is without doubt, a key cornerstone for economic growth”.

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