Digicel requests approval for February price hike

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Digicel has submitted an application for its planned 5 per cent increase for postpaid mobile services, but it is unclear if the measure will be approved in time for the February 1 launch date, Minister of Telecommunications Melford Nicholas said after Monday’s Throne Speech.
Last week, Nicholas told OBSERVER media that Digicel’s misstep was likely unintentional, and that the company was working with the government to follow the correct procedure before the rollout of the price hike.
He added that the upcoming Telecommuni-cations Bill, which is ready to be debated, would revise the process of seeking approval for increasing prices in an effort to regulate the telecommunications sector.
“In the new era, when we get to the Telecommunications Bill, there are going to be a lot more procedural steps that have to be taken in relation to the way we’re going to regulate the market,” Nicholas said. “So it is good that all of the operatives, from now, begin to comport with the prescription under the regulations, which is the reason I had to insist on the procedural misstep to be corrected.”
The telecommunications minister added that he would not be able to assure Digicel that its application to raise prices will be approved by February.
“I can’t say at this stage [if the application will be approved by February]. I suppose that is the intention, but I can’t give any assurances,” Nicholas said. “The process has always been clear. I think it was an oversight, and a mistake. We had to get it corrected so that it fell within the tenets of the licence agreement.”
Of the regulations featured in the Telecommuni-cations Bill, the establishment of an independent commission to govern the sector is one of the most important in ensuring that the sector is consistent
with regional and international standards, Nicholas said.
This commission will report to the government through the Ministry of Telecommunications, as opposed to the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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