Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia’s telecom agency firm on fees

Cambodia’s telecom agency firm on fees

Cambodia’s telecom agency firm on fees

Cambodia's telecommunications ministry yesterday defended intervening in the market by fixing minimum prices for mobile phone calls, rationalising the base charges as necessary to stem the loss of tax revenue and avert a monopolised industry.

“The regulation is not to exploit the operator or the customer, but to ensure fair competition,” Prak Sokhon, the recently appointed Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, told reporters.

The floor price was introduced in 2009 to prevent the demise of telecommunications operators in what was and still is considered an oversaturated market. It sets a minimum charge of 4.5 cents per minute for calls made within a network, and 5.95 cents for calls made between different networks.

Providers found ways around the rules, however, and an attempt to re-enforce them in May was put off by the ministry so as to avoid creating a stir among consumers ahead of July’s national elections, according to Cambodia’s telecom regulator.

Now it is back, and the government is explaining itself to angry consumers who are confused as to why they are set to pay more for their phone calls.

“We have seen an increase in telecom competition, but we have not seen an increase in tax revenue,” Sokhon said.

In 2008, there were 3.8 million subscribers. That rose to 19 million in 2012. Yet industry revenues of $80 million in 2012 and government revenues of $20 million the same year were both less than expected, officials said yesterday.

Economists have questioned the controversial rules.

“There has not been a monopoly so far as a result of free-price competition,” independent economic analyst Chan Sophal said.

“On the contrary”, he added, free-price competition ensures no monopoly as people are free to compete “without collusion” or intervention.

Officials also said that the decision would be open to future review.

Thomas Hundt, the CEO of telecom Smart, which sent a letter to the Council for Development of Cambodia questioning the base fees, did not immediately return requests for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement