Wale urges govt to withdraw Telco bill


OPPOSITION Leader, Matthew Wale has urged the government to consider the Bills and Legislative Committee’s recommendation and withdraw the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2021 and undertake further work on it.

Wale stressed this during his debate on the Bill in Parliament yesterday.

“No policy document was issued as the basis for any consultations.

“None of the stakeholders and witnesses that appeared before the Committee were given the benefit of any policy document,” he said.

Wale said the Telecommunications Commission of Solomon Islands (TCSI) was not specifically consulted on this Bill.

He said both service providers (Our Telekom and Bmobile) were not meaningfully consulted.

Furthermore, Wale said the financial institutions were not at all consulted.

On the other hand, he said there is broad support for the registration of SIM cards.

“The Bill compels data collection but offers no protection for the privacy of that data.

“Nor does it clarify the ownership of the data or the rights of users over their personal data,” he said.

Wale said it is important that these prerequisite processes are fulfilled and all the issues consequential to the registration of SIMs comprehensively given due consideration to avoid a piecemeal approach.

He said that would be good lawmaking practice.

Wale said these are some of the concerns raised by the Bills Committee, and which form the basis of its recommendation that the Bill be withdrawn and a genuinely robust consultation process be pursued after policy on these matters have been properly formulated and clearly articulated.

He said given the current lack of evidence of widespread abuse of SIMs, the government has time to deal with these matters comprehensively.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare called for an adjournment of debate after Wale’s speech to allow his Executive to go through the Bill in Caucus before the meeting resumes at 9.30am today.

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