$4.696B approved for Ministry of Public Telecommunications

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, December 14, 2017

Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes today, defended the 2018 Budget allocations to her ministry.

Responding to a request, from Opposition MP, Irfaan Alli, for an update on the National Broadband Project, Minister Hughes stated that the proposed three-year venture is slated to commence in the latter half of 2018.  She explained the project will upgrade the Network to enable equitable delivery of services to citizens in the areas of education, health, security, government administration, business, citizenship and immigration.

Catherine Hughes, Minister of Public Telecommunications

Minister Hughes also reminded that Cabinet has approved both the application for the loan from the China EXIM Bank and the award of the contract to Huawei Technologies of China.  The contract has been signed and execution will begin as soon as EXIM bank approves the loan.

Opposition MP, Irfaan Alli requested an update on the number of ministries and agencies connected to the e-Gov network. The Minister said the improved network provides internet access to 53 government ministries and agencies; to more than 95 secondary schools; the 2 campuses of the University of Guyana and the Cyril Potter College of Education; to over 37 technical/vocational institutes including the Carnegie School of Home Economics; to the offices of Regional Education Officers, and to several NGO’s.

The Telecommunication Minister also reported that the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) has worked closely with communities in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine and Ten to establish approximately 90 ICT Hubs (to date) with computers donated by Government, thus providing nearly 200,000 citizens with access to the worldwide web.  Another 103 ICT hubs will be operational by 31 December.

Additionally, regional offices, public hospitals, airports, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Guyana Power and Light Company and the Guyana Defence Force and other service organisations are now online and connected to each other via 23 virtual private networks.

The Minister also told the House during questioning that preparations for the new Telecommunications Agency are moving apace.  Additionally, the Commencement Order for the establishment of the Telecommunications Agency has been approved and will be gazetted shortly.  She also explained that the Telecommunications Agency will absorb the functions of the National Frequency Management Unit.

The Committee of Supply approved a total of $4.696B, which sees current and capital expenditure at $2.1B and Capital $2.5B respectively. Provisions will be expended on Policy Development and Administration, Public Telecommunications and Industry Innovations.

$144M will see the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (collaborative initiative between the Government of India and the eGovernment Agency); the National Broadband Project will receive $2.3B and the National Data Management Authority $113M, which will see the expansion of e-government network and services.

Policy Development and Administration will receive $5M for furniture and equipment and the Industry Innovations programme, $1.4M for furniture and equipment.

By: Gabreila Patram

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