Necessary move to transform to ICT driven nation – Hughes

first_imgVAT on data, Internet… costs will decrease when telecoms sector is fully liberalisedPublic Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes has defended the application of Value Added Tax (VAT) on data and Internet services come next year, saying that the revenue stream is necessary for the range of transformation envisioned utilising Information Communication Technology (ICT).Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes as she defends VAT on data and Internet services come next yearHughes delivered her presentation to the debates over the 2017 National Estimates on Wednesday and sought to assure that in the long run the cost of accessing Internet and data services will actually decrease with the advent of the liberalisation of the sector.According to Hughes, this service will be complemented through the Government sponsored Internet hubs that will be provided free of cost.It was Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) Justin Nedd, who over the past week disclosed that the utility company will be forced to pass on an additional $1.2 billion to its consumers as a result of the imposition of VAT on data services and Internet access.Hughes also used the occasion of the debate on Wednesday to point out that the Opposition speakers over the course of the week have done nothing but lament taxes and more taxes to the deliberate exclusion of the exciting transformation projects in the budget.The Minister queried when last a Budget was presented to the nation that can boast of concrete plans to erect a fixed bridge across the Essequibo River of the de-silting of the Demerara River – something that the shipping companies have been clamouring over for decades.The Minister was adamant that the provisions of the 2017 Budget will take Guyana closer to realising its potential that exists between this country and its immediate neighbours.Hughes told the House that budgets are difficult and all cannot be catered for in any single budget.The Minister said, “we Guyanese have been drowning in sea of potential” she said, adding that it is hoped to be realised “in our lifetime.”According to Hughes, Guyana has been comatose for the past two decades and that things have begun to change since May 2015 when the coalition A Partnership for national Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration took office.The Minister conceded that as a society it is understandable that people want transformative change today.She said many have become impatient over the past 18 months since they believe the Administration is failing to deliver but “we forget how broken we had become.”According to Minister Hughes, “I want to tell you the sun is shining on Guyana right now sending bright rays full of opportunity but we have to see them to take advantage of them and not succumb to petty politics.”According to Minister Hughes, the Finance Minister must be commended for presenting a Budget that boasts long-term planning.Turning her attention to her remit in the Public Telecommunications Ministry, Minister Hughes said that for too long in Guyana “we have done things the same old traditional way.”She was speaking to the dependent on traditional pillars of growth such as rice and sugar adding; “we recognise that we have developed (as a country) but have we transformed the country and its people, we have not.”According to Hughes, the APNU/AFC Administration will in fact transform Guyana through the use of digital economy.Minister Hughes also bemoaned the billions which she said was squandered by the previous Administration through mismanagement in its spending on a fibre-optic cable from Brazil which has since been deemed irreparable and for which Guyana continues to repay on the loan for the project.Hughes used the opportunity to boast of some of the strides made by the Ministry over the past year, such as the operationalising of the e-gov infrastructure which she said has seen scores of Government facilities including more than 80 schools being interconnected. (Gary Eleazar)last_img

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