Paulwell calls for number portability
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Phillip Paulwell, opposition spokesman on energy and information communications technologies, has urged Government to make drastic policy changes in several critical sectors to make the Jamaican business landscape more competitive.
Paulwell, who declared that he still has lots of exuberance but has lost some of his youth, said, "It is time for Jamaica to introduce number portability."
Number portability allows customers to transfer a phone number from one service provider to another.
"Telecommunication has become a cash cow, so every year, we increase in taxes, and so on. I think the time for a break for the consumer is now," Paulwell said, as he batted for number portability.
The Office of Utilities Regulation had last year declared it was undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of number portability. It said the study would be completed by June this year.
Meanwhile, Paulwell has said that a network identification feature would enable users to know the provider to which they are connecting - whether Digicel, LIME or Claro - for both incoming and outgoing calls, before a call is registered.
He also renewed the appeal for liberalisation of the grid for the distribution of electricity. The ex-energy minister argued that a more competitive environment with power distribution providers would result in consumers getting the best prices.
The Jamaica Public Service Company has a monopoly on the distribution of electricity.
Rope in more business
Lamenting the burdensome cost of electricity on the manufacturing sector, Paulwell said the Government must urgently revisit the imposition of general consumption tax (GCT) on micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs).
"At present, businesses with annual revenue less than $3 million are not registered taxpayers, and so the imposition of GCT on their electricity bills is an irrecoverable cost that hits their cash flow and bottom line," Paulwell said.
He proposed that operators of MSMEs pay GCT only on the consumption above 200kWh.
Under a revision of the GCT Act last year, residential customers of the JPS are required to pay 10 per cent GCT on any consumption above 200kWh while businesses pay 20 per cent.