I should have informed the nation, says Holness
Written by Jamaica-Gleaner.com   
Saturday, 14 January 2012

Former Prime Minister Andrew Holness has moved to clarify his controversial decision to change the terms of the merger between telecommunications entities Digicel and Claro.

Faced with mounting criticisms since Thursday when it became known that he changed the provision requiring Digicel to operate two separate networks as part of its takeover of Claro, Holness yesterday argued that his detractors were being disingenuous.

According to Holness, while he accepts that he should have informed the nation about the change, persons are ignoring the fact that the Office of Utilities Regulation admitted that it was informed.

He said after the initial agreement was announced by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, Digicel appealed, and when he took over as prime minister, he conducted extensive consultations before deciding to make the change.

Consultations held

Holness said he consulted widely with stakeholders, including the present minister with responsibility for telecommunications, Phillip Paulwell, and it was agreed that Digicel's operation of two separate networks was unworkable.

According to Holness, Jamaicans would benefit from the change.

"Digicel had to agree to a reduction in the inter-connection rates ... . In addition, the Government tabled in Parliament, just before the election, new legislation that would empower the regulator to set rates, so we got two benefits for the consumers," said Holness.

He argued that it was now up to the present Government to either change his decision or ensure that the regulatory agencies set the terms on which the merger would be done to the benefit of consumers.

article link