Passage of telecoms bill could affect APUA's ability to compete

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The commercial viability of the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) telecoms will be at stake once the government follows through with the implementation of the proposed telecommunications bill that will govern the local sector.
On Tuesday, Information Minister Melford Nicholas confirmed that this is one of the primary reasons why the bill is yet to receive the nod of approval from Parliamentarians – three-and-a-half-years after it was first introduced.
The minister said the government is keen on ensuring that APUA is able to survive in a regulated environment.
“From the very beginning of the discussion the management and staff at APUA had indicated to the government a fear that should the telecoms bill move ahead as prescribed, it would have put them in a position where they would not be able to compete.
“So, over the last 18 months, the government has granted more funding to APUA to give them an opportunity to improve their service offering. It still does not end the conversation because to get APUA to the level of commercial viability there has to be some further strengthening of the management practices.” Nicholas said.
He further stated that the government is also contemplating whether it would have to seek a partner for APUA telecoms to allow it to be able to be an effective competitor in the new environment.
Minister Nicholas also explained that while APUA’s concern is genuine, it is not in the country’s best interest to continue delaying the passage of the bill.
“This is a matter of resolution that has to be resolved during the course of this year and so we don’t have much time left on the clock,” Nicholas said.

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