Minister of Science, Energy, and Technology Daryl Vaz said that the Government will move to increase penalties and custodial sentences for all legislations within his ministry, specifically offences that include the tampering, theft, and vandalism of telecommunications facilities.
The Minister said that these criminal acts cost telecommunication companies close to $2 billion during the last fiscal year, funds which they could have invested in their networks for the future.
Vaz was making his contributions to the 2023-2024 Sectoral Debate where he addressed the longstanding issue.
“Amendments will be made to the Telecommunications Act to strengthen the legislation to impose higher fines and custodial sentences for offences that may constitute acts of vandalism, to include trespass upon any telecommunications facility and meddling, interfering or tampering with or otherwise causing harm to the facility,” said the portfolio minister.
He noted that when acts of vandalism or theft are carried out against telecommunication facilities, the penalties often pale compared to the expense the entities will have to spend on service restoration.
Vaz also said that these criminal acts are severely affecting customers who pay for services from telecommunication facilities and more needs to be done from a legislative standpoint to send a message to those who break the law that there will be consequences.
“I am also heartened by the fact that Digicel and Flow are working together on an industry solution to the theft and use of stolen phones. Both operators are now in the final stages of banning stolen devices
from accessing their networks, and an announcement on this will be made very shortly,” said the Minister.
He also commended the Jamaica Constabulary Force for the work being done to find and arrest those who commit these criminal acts.