Wheatley Chides Paulwell for Apparent Concessions to Telecom Providers

Release Date: 
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 07:00

Opposition Spokesman on ICT & Digital Society Development, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, is raising fresh concerns regarding the judgment and stewardship of embattled Science & Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell in relation to the recent award of spectrum to players in the telecom industry.

Dr. Wheatley reminds of the specific calls he made mere weeks ago for Minister Paulwell to make full disclosure in the matter concerning advance payments by telecoms providers Digicel and LIME for renewal of licenses as the Government sought to close its revenue shortfall and meet its 7.5% primary surplus target.

Dr. Wheatley said: "We called specifically on the Minister to indicate whether any concessions or special accommodations were being made by the Government in exchange for the apparent generosity of the telecoms firms in making payments for licenses well in advance of the actual due date.

But while the Minister was not forthcoming then, it is the Opposition's certain knowledge that Minister Paulwell made significant and expedient concessions to the telecoms entities in exchange for their advance payments."

"The Minister's concession and expedient executive action came in the form of an apparent reversal of a position his Ministry had taken last year when it promulgated an 'Aggregate Spectrum Cap Policy'."  This policy, recommended by the regulating entity 'Spectrum Management Authority' (SMA), Dr. Wheatley continued, "serves to cap the spectrum available to any telecoms entity in an effort to prevent hoarding and monopolization of the country's precious resource while at the same time promoting more competition in the sector."

"We see this move by Minister Paulwell as another telling and disturbing manifestation of the expediency and questionable judgment with which he operates. It is evident that Minister Paulwell has absolutely no qualms nor reservations about meddling and engaging in questionable conduct as he quite brazenly induced the advance payments by the telecoms providers by changing the 2013 policy and unilaterally sanctioned the increase of available spectrum beyond that which is specified in the very policy the Government promulgated last year."

The Opposition Spokesman is calling on the Minister to immediately provide the nation, particularly the Parliament, with details on the 2013 Aggregate Spectrum Cap Policy and outline any variations between that initial policy and the situation that obtains at present as a result of his expedient action.