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ECLAC Highlights the Need for Common Framework to Address e-Government Deployment

The Economic Commission For Latin America And The Caribbean, (ECLAC) says e-government is closely related to the concept of e-governance, which the commonwealth secretariat has defined as governments’ “utilisation of information and communications technology to interact with and provide services to businesses, citizens, and other governments with the intent to improve transparency, increase public service efficiency, and deepen democracy”.

An important goal of e-government systems is to enable bi-directional, engagement, permitting remote interaction between a government and its citizens, government and businesses, and within the government itself.

Examples of such interactions include, enabling the electronic submission of forms for activities such as tax reporting, registration for social services, and applications for licences and permits; orchestration of activities that require coordination across government ministries, departments and agencies, such as budgeting, resource management and project planning functions.

It is here that, ECLAC observed challenges, noting that while the countries of the region are at different stages of development with respect to e-government. The most prominent of the common issues that they are experiencing is the need for a comprehensive framework, encompassing a common set of government-wide standards, protocols, and processes to be followed by the entire public sector, to the extent that common national standards can be aligned together as common regional standards.

The study observed that although Caribbean countries have been working on e-government individually, the common set of issues and challenges faced has led to the adoption of similar software projects. These include the implementation of ASYCUDA, the widespread use of electronic information management systems, and a general movement toward the usage of open source software. 

However, there is still much redundancy in implementation, coupled with misalignment in choices of technology, many initiatives could benefit considerably from tighter harmonisation of efforts.



Guyanese Telecoms Company sues GTT and PUC 

Caribbean Telecommunications Limited (CTL) is suing the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited (GTT) and the regulatory body, Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for US$281M, claiming that it was deliberately suppressed from expanding its cell services.

The company, filed the lawsuit in late December against the US-owned GTT and the regulator in the Commercial Court. The matter has seen previous court action in both Guyana and the US. 

According to court documents, the plaintiff, CTL, in 1996 was granted a 10-year renewable licence to provide cellular radio telephone services, to residents of Guyana, by the Ministry of Public Works and Telecommunication. At the same time, CTL petitioned PUC for the right to provide cell services.

During the time, GTT exercised monopolistic control over entire Guyanese 

telephone market, for both landline and cellular service. The PUC approved the rates for CTL by an order in 1997, directing GTT to interconnect  with the CTL network for cell service.

Both CTL and GTT entered an agreement for shared fees and interconnection of lines and equipment. CTL, in its Statement of Claims, said it invested millions of dollars for its planned cell service expansion throughout Guyana. While GTT started to cooperate, it restricted the scope of the cell phone company to a “small” and “arbitrary geographically” area.

CTL claimed it lost potential revenues because of GTT’s action in Georgetown, 

New Amsterdam, Skeldon and Upper Corentyne. CTL said it wants US$281M ($56.2B) for lost revenues and damages for the period 2000-2013.



FLOW Crackdown on Illegal Content Downloads Spreads Across Region

The crackdown against people accessing illegal television programming content has moved region-wide.

A number of illegal users were knocked out in Barbados last week, joining those in Jamaica, The Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname and a number of islands in the Eastern Caribbean, which have also been de-activated.

Some in the ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, have also been affected by the new tough anti-piracy action.

This is part of the international battle for control of virtual borders where people have been illegally downloading programming content sometimes not for this region.

The American movie streaming company, Netflix, has indicated it will crackdown on people who jump borders to watch its content. Online payment service PayPal has given its support to the content providers and legitimate services by not accepting payment from those infringing intellectual property laws.

People have been using internet-based systems such as VPN (virtual private network) and android boxes with both smart televisions and regular sets to circumvent joining a subscription service like FLOW, Digicel, CBC’s Multi-Choice television or DirecTV.

FLOW has been informing customers across the region, “if you are trying to access content deemed as unauthorised or which violates copyright laws, there have been changes regionally which may affect your access”.



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