The Antigua and Barbuda government says it remains committed to buying out the operations of Irish-owned telecommunication company, Digicel.
The government reiterated the plan as it announced new initiatives in its ongoing battle to have the island’s two foreign-owned companies share spectrum space with a state entity.
Last month, Digicel defended its decision to secure a High Court order preventing the government from sharing any of the 850 MHz spectrum it has been allocated with the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).
Speaking on his privately-owned radio station over the last weekend, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he believes that Digicel “is showing an inclination to have possibly a 49-51 percentage situation.
“That’s the sticking point because we want the majority,” he said, adding that if the Digicel officials are prepared to “look at the possibility APUA…acquiring Digicel Antigua then we may have a deal.”
Earlier, Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan told radio listeners that the government is moving to amend the Telecommunications Bill so as to provide further protection for the authority.
Astaphan, who is among lawyers representing the state in the court battle, said the government is seeking to provide some level of protection for the only telecommunication company in the Eastern Caribbean not owned by foreign interests.
“I agree with the position that there should be some protection because I have noticed coming from the Privy Council (Antigua and Barbuda’s final court) that …they accept that Parliament or the government may make decisions to ensure that private enterprises …or public enterprises that are locally owned are not wiped out by international competition,” he stated.