The Democratic Alliance has welcomed a commitment by department of telecommunications & postal services director-general Robert Nkuna that he will consider commissioning properly researched financial impact assessments of proposed new ICT legislation.
“The DA welcomes the undertaking,” said the party’s spokeswoman on telecoms & postal services, MP Marian Shinn.
The department is developing various bills following publication last year of the controversial national integrated ICT policy white paper. They are the Digital Development Fund Bill, the Economic Regulator and Tribunal Bill, and the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill.
The DA has criticised a previous socioeconomic assessment on the white paper’s controversial proposals and yesterday in parliament asked Nkuna to undertake properly researched assessments of the proposed legislation on the ICT sector.
“He agreed to consider the DA’s request,” said Shinn. “No financial impact assessment was done on the white paper’s far-reaching and controversial proposal to establish a national wireless open-access network (Woan) by, in effect, expropriating the business operations of the mobile network operators.
“This plan to incorporate the business of private-sector operators into the Woan has been widely criticised as unconstitutional, a major deterrent to further investment in mobile communications infrastructure and operations, and creating an anticompetitive wholesale monopoly,” Shinn said.
She said the DA submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to the telecoms department for any impact assessment the department might have done in support of the white paper. This was ignored, she said. A further request, in late November, was also ignored.
“In response to a DA parliamentary question, submitted in February 2017, inquiring why no impact assessment had been done, the [department] replied that [an assessment] had been done. This was appended to the reply and the document suddenly appeared on the department’s website,” said Shinn. “It is little more than a checklist of wishful thinking on the assumed, nice-to-haves of the policy. There is no hard evidence of the economic impact of the policy.” — © 2017 NewsCentral Media