St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is now the second Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) member state to introduce new legislation governing the telecommunications sector.
This follows the safe passage of the Electronic Communications Bill during the 12th sitting of the House of Assembly on Tuesday October 24th, 2022.
The new legislation was tabled by Prime Minister and Minister of Information Hon. Dr Ralph Gonsalves and replaces the Telecommunications Act which was passed by Parliament in the year 2000.
In his contribution to the debate in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, Minister of Finance Hon. Camillo Gonsalves thanked ECTEL for their management methods in creating public awareness about the Electronic Communications Bill.
In 2009, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) signaled the need for a revision of existing legislation to better address the emergence of new services and challenges within the telecommunications sector. At that time, ECTEL initiated discussions about moving away from the existing legislation of 2000, and in 2019 a new legislative bill was finalized.
Finance Minister Gonsalves said the combined impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the April 2021 explosive eruptions of the La Soufriere Volcano, and the coming on stream of a World Bank initiative dubbed “The Digital Transformation Project”, delayed the passage of the new legislation here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Electronic Communications Bill is geared at strengthening customer service delivery; establish a dispute tribunal to address issues affecting stakeholders; introduce stronger penalties for breach of legislation and clauses; promotes fairness, transparency and accountability between providers and regulators.
The Legislation also seeks to improve conditions and terms for issuance of licenses, facilitate production of content and the monetization of content across internet-based platforms; broaden the scope of telecommunications to include contemporary electronic communications methodologies and preserve an open internet and the concept of neutrality.
In 2021, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis became the first ECTEL member state to pass the new Bill.