Vague rules barriers to trade: DICT

May 22, 2019 at 12:01

Vague rules barriers to trade: DICT

Malaya Business Insight | May 21, 2019

The inadequacy of laws in information and communication technology (ICT)  sector and the vagueness of the scope of power of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) have resulted in certain barriers in the country’s trade and investment on ICT services, according to a study  of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

PIDS consultant Lai-Lynn Barcenas in her policy note titled ‘’ICT Regulation and Regulatory Authority”  said one of the barriers is the tedious application process in securing a legislative franchise and a certificate of public convenience and necessity, among other permits and licenses.

It takes an average of five years to process these documents, slowing down investments in the telecommunications services.

Barcenas also noted  the constitutional limit imposed on foreign ownership of telecommunications, broadcasting, mass media, and advertising firms is also a hindrance.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution also prohibits foreign nationals from practicing their professions, specifically those needed in the ICT services. According to the study, these provisions restrain the entry of foreign capital, technology, and skilled human resource that could spur ICT development in the country.

Barcenas also noted that some of the functions of the DICT overlap or are incompatible with those of other departments. For instance, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) still governs the promotion of trade and investments on e-commerce, the improvement of ICT skills of the labor force, and network security and connectivity.

The DICT has absorbed some of the functions of the Postal Regulation Division, which regulates courier delivery services. However, these delivery services include online payments, which may properly be under the jurisdiction of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Barcenas said  also unclear is the extent of authority of the DICT over other components of the ICT sector such as telecommunications and broadcast information operators, ICT equipment manufacturers, multimedia content developers, IT solution providers, internet service providers, ICT training institutions, software developers, and ICT-ES providers.

To address these challenges, the author urged the government to further strengthen the DICT’s role in ICT matters by defining the extent of its functions, and clarify the role of DTI in promoting e-commerce.  She also recommended the removal of unnecessary requirements in the establishment and operation of telecommunications and broadcasting services providers, particularly the need for a legislative franchise.

Barcenas likewise proposed an assessment of the adaptive capacity of the present regulatory structure, and to consider establishing a single ICT regulator that has authority on all ICT matters, including the power to regulate industries normally handled by other regulatory authorities, and the authority to interpret ICT-related issues for the guidance of other regulators.



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