Sri Lanka, with many others, agreed to abide by the Regulatory Reference Paper that forms part of the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services.
Clause 6 of the Reference Paper states:
Any procedures for the allocation and use of scarce resources, including frequencies, numbers and rights of way, will be carried out in an objective, timely, transparent and non-discriminatory manner. The current state of allocated frequency bands will be made publicly available, but detailed identification of frequencies allocated for specific government uses is not required.
This was the case in Sri Lanka until the new website for set up (inaugurated by a high official of the ITU which supports transparency and other good things). The Master Register of Frequencies that was on the website, is no longer accessible through a button; when one does a search the register that comes up is dated 2003. So now Sri Lanka is in violation of its WTO commitments. Can’t blame the ITU for not checking the progressiveness or otherwise of the websites they inaugurate can we?
This is not simply about WTO commitments (which are however influential in terms of attracting investment). Situations like the assignment of frequencies that were used by Shakti to a government/crony channel would be easier to document if the Master Register was accessible by the public.
Another step back by the Sri Lanka TRC. Another argument for a complete overhaul.