Minister Pule lines up communications bills for the future

During media briefings in late January, communications minister Dina Pule said that the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill would be released for public comment during the first quarter of 2012 and March 2013 was the deadline for the changes that will overhaul much of the communications environment in South Africa

The draft was published in November 2011 for comment and withdrawn shortly afterwards and in the light of what was said, not only by the public sector but by opposition parliamentarians. The minister commented at the time that further consultation would take place within government.

The issues evolve around the role, powers and functions of the minister herself and her relationship with and the powers of ICASA, the independent regulatory body. Much discussion involves a very limited frequency spectrum and the exact wording regarding licences, the issuing thereof and conditions of revoking.

The most recent comment comes from the minister herself, who added in response to the Budget debate that further amendments would be subject to the national development plan. Much argument originally took place over how to differentiate between the functions of the ICASA council and the chief operations officer of the body itself.

The minister also finds herself deeply involved in banking regulatory matters due their infant, the Post Office, entering the banking world despite recent scandals regarding misappropriation of funds.   Legislation is expected shortly amending the anchor Post Office Bank Limited Act which came into effect in 2010 allowing this process.

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