Gov’t making strides in crafting a modern digital economy

The government continues to forge ahead in its steadfast approach toward crafting a digital economy, to align Guyana with the ongoing global technological transition.

On Thursday, in presenting the Electronic Communication and Transaction Bill of 2023 for its second reading to the National Assembly, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, highlighted the HIPCAR Project, executed by the International Telecommunications Unit (ITU).

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond

This project was designed to support the Caribbean countries in improving their competitiveness by harmonising ICT policies, legislation, and regulatory procedures.

Under this project, nine items of model legislation were produced, which were deemed necessary for the modern digital economy.

These items included laws governing e-Commerce, Access to public information, privacy and data protection, cyber crimes and cyber security, interception of communications, universal service and access framework, telecommunications licensing, and interconnection.

The minister reminded that various governments have developed and, in many cases, implemented legislation covering these areas in recent years.  

These included the Interception of Communications Act, which was passed in 2008, and the Access to Information Act in 2011. Moreover, the current government while in opposition also made substantial contributions to the Cybercrime Act, which was passed in 2018. Such was the case for the Telecommunications Act as well, which provides a framework that governs licensing, interconnection and universal services and access.

“It is worth noting that on the passage of this [Electronic Communication and Transactions] bill, we would have implemented legislation that substantially covers all nine of the thematic areas that were adjudged by the ITU to be necessary to situate states in the modern era,” the minister said.

The Digital Identification Bill, which was tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday, is another piece of legislation that will serve to advance this agenda. The bill will see the consolidation of the biometric data of each citizen into a single card known as the ‘e-ID’. It also proposes the establishment of a Digital Identity Card Registry for collecting identity-related information for citizens fourteen years and over and non-citizens, including skilled nationals of the Caribbean Community.

Further, the Data Protection Bill, which aims to safeguard the privacy and personal data of individuals, including their right to control the use of their personal information, also highlights that digital security remains high on the government’s legislative agenda.

“Our efforts in bringing these bills in the ICT sector are part and parcel of a comprehensive modernisation and transformational agenda. This agenda is all-encompassing, and includes the state, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and individual citizens,” the tourism minister pointed out.

She added, “Our thrust for modernisation is total and multi-sectorial. It is not just limited to the information technology sector, we are on a thrust to modernise our country in all respects.”