Business leaders want communications minister from Workers Party

Delivering a document called the Salvador Charter to Deputy Walter Pinheiro (PT, Bahia), the incoming Administration?s representative at 45º Painel Telebrasil, Raul Del Fiol, an executive officer of Promon, asked him to tell President-Elect Luís Inácio Lula da Silva that the leaders of the telecommunications industry want the Communications Ministry to be controlled by the Workers Party (PT) and not handed to another party in the ruling coalition. Dep. Pinheiro said the PT requires other parties to commit to its election manifesto if they wish to have cabinet seats. Also according to Dep. Pinheiro, Lula will hold frequent cabinet meetings at which ministers will be expected to show what they have done to achieve the Government?s targets. He called on the business leaders in attendance to participate in the drafting of a new telecoms model for Brazil. The model in place is five years old, he recalled, and like all high technology telecoms changes quickly. Asked whether the Executive will pursue some of the proposals under discussion inside and outside the PT, Dep. Pinheiro promised to make full use of his considerable influence in Congress. ?If our ideas aren?t taken up by the Government, I undertake to advocate them inside the party and in the lower house,? he said.

Criticism

During the debate Dep. Pinheiro criticized Anatel for the way it has implemented the model, especially for not forcing the incumbents to unbundle or at least share local networks. As a result of Anatel?s leniency, he argued, the three incumbent local exchange carriers have become giants with which no one will be able to compete. He also attacked the Communications Ministry for failing to fulfill its role in law as a formulator of policy for the sector. In many cases Anatel has acted as policy maker in order to fill the void, he said. In a brief overview of Lula?s plans for the ministry, he stressed the need to have a single regulator for telecoms, broadcasting and postal services. This agency should be subordinated to the ministry, he said. It makes no sense to have several agencies responsible for overseeing and regulating different parts of the telecoms sector. ?How can we promote digital inclusion without considering the role of the Post Office?? he asked. A postal reform bill now before Congress will have to be reviewed, and the Communications Ministry should have a specific department to formulate telecoms policy.

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