Bill to establish Belau Submarine cable Corp passes 3rd reading
WRITTEN BY PETER ERICK L. MAGBANUA
THURSDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2015 11:47
The House of Delegates on February 24 passed on third reading a bill that will establish the Belau Submarine Cable Corporation as a state-owned public corporation-that is authorized to procure, own and manage a fiber optic cable on behalf of Palau.
House Bill No. 9-163-16 states that through Executive Order No. 351, established national information Communications Technology Policy that recognizes the requirement for increased public and private investment in the ICT sector. The ICT policy holds that competitive telecommunications market will encourage investment, improve service quality and choice and allow for efficient pricing.
“Currently, Palau’s international connectivity depends entirely on satellites. Satellite connections carry high costs, permit limited bandwidth and have a high round-trip delay time. Poor telecommunications performance has negative consequences for growth and development across the economy,” the bill stated.
The bill’s legislative findings also stated that a study funded by the World Bank has demonstrated the financial viability of a submarine cable investment to establish broadband internet connectivity to Palau by connecting to the major cable hub in Guam. The State of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia will also be connected to the Guam hub through this project and mutual participation is essential to the project going forward. A submarine cable investment will supply high quality broadband internet capacity at lower cost to Palau than is currently making high-tech, high-speed telecommunication service accessible and affordable to the broader population.
Palau has requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support the financing of its portion of the submarine internet cable project. As part of the financing arrangements the ADB has made the Republic’s establishment of a company, to be the implementation agency for the project, capable of treating all service providers using submarine cable capacity in a non-discriminatory manner, to be a pre-requisite for ADB board for approval of the loan.
The bill aims that with the establishment of the Belau Submarine Cable Corporation, and the subsequent enabling of fiber optic cable connectivity, will help promote economic growth, improve efficient use of resources and facilitate cooperation on transnational matters including the management and monitoring of natural resources and disaster mitigation.
Once established, the Belau Submarine Cable Corporation will have its office located in Koror and among the purpose of the corporation is for any lawful purpose related to the procurement, ownership and management of a fiber optic cable on behalf of Palau; it is created to create a competitive and level playing field and full access for any business so that a competitive price for the best service may be made available to Palauans and visitors of Palau; and the principal objective of this public corporation is to operate on sound business principles, such as full cost recovery, including the cost of capital, and to ensure open access to the cable for all communications technology service providers so that the benefit of the fiber optic cable accrue to the benefit of the consumer.
The Belau Submarine Cable Corporation will have a board of directors, officers, agents and employees. They will delegate authority to a duly hired Chief Executive Officer. Members of the board will be appointed by the President of Palau with the advice and consent of the Senate.
There will be five members of the board and they will elect a chairman among themselves. Three members of the board will constitute a quorum for carrying out the business of the board. The concurrence of a majority of all members present at any meeting will be necessary to take any official board action.
The board members will serve terms of four years at the conclusion of which they may be reappointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Board members may be removed by the President for cause.
Until such time as a full five member of the board is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the Finance Minister may act with all of the authority of the board and the Chief Executive Officer.