Release information

By Randy Howard

A call is being made for the national Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to release information regarding the prices of services being provided by telecommunications provider Cable & Wireless.

Speaking to the Business Monday, Chris Halsall, Director of Ideas 4 Lease, an independent consulting group, and a voting member of the Telecommunications Act Revision Committee (TARC), argued that the Commission is not releasing information necessary for persons like himself to properly analysis the performance of the Price Cap Mechanism, and subsequently submit comments via the public consultation response paper.

Halsall, who attended last week’s educational forum put on by the FTC, stated that “The most important thing in my mind that has come out of these sessions is the fact that they are having this public consultation and yet are not really giving the public any information that can be used to analyze the current situation.”

He made reference to Appendix 2 of the public consultation document, which contains information regarding price changes that Cable & Wireless has made, where it was explicitly stated that this information is a sample and not a complete set.

At the forum, Halsall indicated that he had contacted the FTC requesting a complete set of data, however, what he received was eleven pages of documents, which he described as being “little more than press releases and photocopies of advertisements published in the paper.”

He further indicated that after closer inspection, he discovered that five of the pages are not even dated.

The consultant stated that he presumes that the FTC is in possession of this information, but for some reason they are not comfortable distributing to the public, which one must say has implications for the proper completion of a public consultation.

He was quick to point however, that he has respect for the Commission’s requirement of confidentiality, but at the same time, the information that they claim to receive from the telecommunications company is in his opinion very important for the completion of a proper analysis by himself and other persons following the issue, a situation that he finds disconcerting.

Additionally, a request for public distribution of submitted comments was rejected, even if those submitting comments explicitly indicated that they were to distributed. The Commission’s representatives said that instead “you should all share your comments between yourselves.”

Published in the Barbados Advocate Business Monday 2007.10.15. Reprinted with permission.

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