The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) collected $13.5 million from telecom operators for last year from two funds. Officials said this represented 70 per cent of the ministry’s expectation.
Although the targeted revenue was not fully collected, MPTC Secretary of State Kan Channmeta said at a press conference late on Wednesday that it shows good progress as the policy is in its first year of implementation and revenue would continue to be collected from the companies yet to pay.
According to Channmeta, of the total revenue collection for last year, the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) contributed $9 million while $4.5 million was raised from the Capacity Building, Research and Development Fund (CBRDF).
Channmeta said officials acknowledged from the outset that implementation of revenue collection in the first year would face many challenges.
Twenty-seven of the 31 telecom companies have paid so far. The identity of companies that have or have not paid was not revealed by the official on Wednesday.
“Based on first-year results, we hope that revenue collection from the funds for this year will be better and smoother,” he said. The deadline for 2018 revenue collection is March next year.
“Operators have been watching us [and wondering] how we will manage the funds they paid. We guarantee transparency and accountability in managing the funds,” Channmeta said.
The 2016 Telecom Law and subsequent sub-decrees set up the two funds, USOF and CBRDF, with the purpose of promoting the development of infrastructure and services in rural areas where companies might not otherwise invest, as well as promoting research and fostering new talent in the industry.
The USOF requires two per cent of a company’s gross annual revenue to be paid each year, while telecom companies are required to pay a percentage of their annual revenue into CBRDF each year.
While there are 31 operators obligated to contribute, the three largest telecom operators – Smart, Cellcard and Metfone – provide the bulk of the funds’ revenue.
In a statement, yesterday Smart, a subsidiary of Malaysian telecom giant Axiata Group, said it had paid more than $7 million into the two funds for last year.
The company called on its rivals to pay their fees, noting that it is vital that all licensees contribute on time to both funds as required by law for the long-term benefit of all parties.
The statement commended the boards and MPTC for being forward-looking in having provisions which align with Smart’s joint priorities of creating a digital Cambodia via achieving a universal broadband service as well as increasing information and communication technology (ICT) capabilities in the country.
“In 2018, we contributed $3.9 million to date and will settle all due USOF and CBRDF payments as we take our national responsibilities very seriously."
“We continue to reiterate the importance of a level playing field for the industry, especially in terms of tax requirements and fee payments,” the statement said.