ICASA review in the pipeline

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pretoria – Cabinet has approved a proposal to review some of the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s functions to make it more transparent and accountable.

Addressing a post Cabinet briefing on Thursday, acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said the executive had approved the submission of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Amendment Bill to Parliament.

The amendment of the Bill forms part of a platter of proposals contained in the National Development Plan, penned by Minister in the Presidency: National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel.

The amendment comes after President Jacob Zuma anchored his State of the Nation Address on the NDP -- which seeks to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality -- in February, where he announced that most of the government programmes would be guided by proposals contained in the plan.

“The Amendment Bill responds to some of the issues in the NDP.

“The amendments of the Independent Communication Authority Act No. 13 of 2002 (ICASA Act) are underpinned by the need for institutional improvements to strengthen the independent Authority.

“This will be through the provision of clarity on aspects of its powers to align the Act more closely to the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and to improve its efficiency,” Williams said.

Willams said, however, that amendment should not be seen as a threat to the ICASA’s independence.

“This is with a view to improve accountability and transparency which will contribute to sound governance practices within ICASA.

“The importance of an independent and impartial regulator for the communications sector cannot be overemphasized.”

Williams said, meanwhile, that Cabinet had also approved the submission of the Electronic Communication Amendment Bill to Parliament.

“The Amendments seeks to deal with competition promotion limitation, access to electronic communications infrastructure, communication costs as well as improving turnaround time for consultative processes.

“The Amendment Bill aligns the Act with broad-based black economic empowerment legislation; refines licensing issues; improves competition provisions; removes regulatory bottlenecks and provides for matters connected to this,” Williams said.

Conference to bolster diamond, tourism industries

Williams said Cabinet also received an update on the country’s hosting of two meetings in Gauteng and the Northern Cape which are tipped to contribute to the promotion of the mining and tourism industries.

The first meeting, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), will take place between the 4th and the 7th next month, followed by a plenary meeting in Gauteng in November.

“South Africa’s position as chair of the KPCS gives recognition to the key role that South Africa plays in the international diamond sector.

“As the chair South Africa aims to strengthen international trade relations, with a view to consolidate and increase the African footprint within the KPCS and contribute to a safer global environment.” - SAnews.gov.za