Industry and Commerce Minister, Donville Inniss, has assured the public that there is no need to panic over the proposed merger between Cable and Wireless and Columbus Communications, as the relevant authorities would do what they had to do ???in the best interest of consumers and also service providers in this country???.
He made these remarks during a media interview following the official opening ceremony of Portico ??? the Barbados Furniture & Interior Accessories Fair at Building No. 8, Spring Garden Industrial Estate, St. Michael, yesterday.
In fact, the Minister said he remained optimistic that Barbadians would continue to receive available telecommunications services, and that the country???s economy would benefit from the provision of such services, regardless of the provider.
Mr. Inniss explained that he was formally notified about the proposed merger in his capacity as Minister of Commerce, and has since had discussions with both companies about a number of issues, including the way forward.
However, he noted that the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) was the entity charged with the responsibility of accepting notice of such mergers, especially when they affected market share and created dominant positions.
???The FTC will do what they are required by law to do, which is to thoroughly investigate???and make [what] decisions they have to make regarding this particular proposal between Cable and Wireless and Columbus,??? he said.
The Minister added that he was leaving the matter up to the FTC to operate in an independent and professional manner, with the knowledge that ???in the fullness of time???, they would make any necessary announcements.
However, Mr. Inniss raised what he described as two pressing issues, the first being moving Barbados to a point where all telecommunications companies were appropriately licenced and regulated.
???For me, that is more important than to argue about who is a major shareholder in which company. It is to ensure that the services provided are well regulated, which include the pricing of such services.
“At the end of the day, what we want is a very transparent system, one that both consumers and providers of services can feel that they are given a fair hearing, and that decisions are taken in their best interest,??? he said.
The second issue relates to every household in Barbados having access to broadband and technologies and being able to use such services.
???Whether it is a grandmother in a house with a six-year-old child, or just an ordinary couple out there… It should not matter whether you are in the heights, the terrace, or the village.
“I would like to see this small island setting the stage for the world by ensuring that every household has access to broadband ???.regardless of their socio-economic situation,??? Mr. Inniss emphasised.