Government has entered into a contract with telecommunications company Digicel that will cut its telephone costs in half.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart made the revelation today during debate in the House of Assembly.
The Prime Minister sought and received approval of Parliament for the first payment of $776,800 to apply Digicel’s Wide Area Network (WAN) system to the Ministry of the Civil Service, the Personnel Administration Department, the Ministry of Energy, the Telecoms Unit, and the Civil Aviation Department, beginning this month.
Offering an example of the savings in store for Government through removal of the old telecommunication system and implementing WAN, Stuart said: “The current accumulated phone calls for the Ministry of the Civil Service and the Personnel Administration Department is $180,000 annually.
“During the first year of this project, December 2015 to November 2016, of the new telephony installation, Government will pay nothing for the phone system.
“From December 2016 and onwards, the cost of phones will be reduced to $90,000.”
He added: “When other departments become connected, the [WAN] solution will observe savings of up to 53 per cent”.
Emphasising that the saving “was not an option that Government could frown on”, he said, “We are concerned about the chaotic use of information and communication technology in the public service”.
Stuart described the move to WAN as “a giant step” in the direction towards e-Government.
He said that as the largest organisation on the island it should be enjoying reduced costs owing to size, but “separate entities in Government go off on their own and the advantages of economies of scale are not realized”.
The Prime Minister told the Committee of Supply of Parliament that the $776,800 payment was the first in a series of periodic disbursements that the administration will make to Digicel, which was awarded the contract based on it making the best offer in a tendering process.
“It was agreed that a managed services wide area network solution at a cost of $2.4 million, VAT inclusive, for the first three years would be implemented.”
He recalled that in 2015-16 Estimates $696,800 was approved under non-statutory capital expenditure, and said it was being frozen to facilitate the $776,800 first payment to Digicel now that the contract has been awarded. (GA)