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Phone companies, beware!

Monday, April 28, 2014    

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MINISTER of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, says the Government will be putting a mechanism in place to nab those who are bypassing the formal system set up to collect a levy on inbound international phone calls.

The Universal Service Fund (USF), formerly the Universal Access Fund, was set up in 2005 to collect the levy of US$0.03 per minute on inbound international calls terminated on fixed lines, and US$0.02 per minute on calls terminated on mobile lines in Jamaica.

The funds generated are used to provide Internet service islandwide, in keeping with Government's efforts to enable more Jamaicans to access Information and Communications Technology (ICT). This includes the creation of an ICT platform in secondary schools, libraries, post offices, and at Community Access Points.

But according to the minister, some players have been evading the system and depriving the fund of revenue and in so doing, are depriving Jamaicans of the facilities.

"We are going to be putting in place the technology to audit and to catch them and to terminate those services that they are offering," he said.

The minister was speaking at the opening of the McGregor Gardens Community Cyber Vision Café in Kingston last Wednesday. It is the 174th CAP to be opened in the island.

Paulwell noted that the USF spent $4.2 million to establish the facility, which has been equipped with the latest technology, including 25 computers. The Fund will absorb the cost of providing Internet service.

The minister said it would also be used to ensure that wifi services are available for persons with their own devices.

The lab was established in collaboration with the Youths With Vision Youth Club, which currently provides Internet access, printing, scanning, and photocopying services for residents.

State minister in the ministry and Member of Parliament for South East St Andrew Julian Robinson said he was proud the lab has been established.

He said it "enhances the community, provides an opportunity for children, adults... to use it for educational purposes, but also importantly, for purposes which you can empower yourselves".

Robinson said, too, that it is one of three centres that will be opened in the constituency. The other two are slated for the Jacques Road Community Centre and at the NVO complex on Deanery Road.

Deputy mayor of Kingston, Councillor Andrew Swaby, who played an integral role in the establishment of the lab, also welcomed

the facility.

--JIS

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