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Noncompliant telecoms go unnamed by government

SIM cards sit on the counter of a mobile phone shop in Phnom Penh last year.
SIM cards sit on the counter of a mobile phone shop in Phnom Penh last year. Pha Lina

Noncompliant telecoms go unnamed by government

The government declined to provide the names of telecommunications companies that have not made required contributions to state-managed funds on Monday, appearing to go back on an earlier promise to publicise those names.

The deadline for telecom companies to pay about 3 percent of their annual revenue to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) was April 30, pushed back from an original deadline of March 1.

The ministry published a notice and bought an advertisement in The Phnom Penh Post to announce the new deadline in early April and promised to “publicly announce” the names and ownership of any companies that failed to meet the obligations “without exception”.

Contacted yesterday, all three officials who were listed on the announcement as coordinators of the interministerial task force in charge of that enforcement declined to provide the names or details of which companies had failed to make payments.

“I have no idea to comment at all, they just only put my number in the announcement,” said Sat Monyvibol, one of the listed contacts. “It is a job for higher duties.”

Oum Kakada, another contact listed on the announcement, said “I have no duty to provide information to media, I am only the coordinator.”

Nom Sinith, the third contact, said he was in Singapore and was unable to speak to a reporter.

The government pushed back the original deadline of March 1 after the ministry collected just $4.2 million of the total of over $17 million that was owed under regulations that came into effect as part of the 2016Telecommunications Law.

The majority of those payments – $3.5 million – came from a single company, Smart, the firm told The Post at the time.

The largest telecommunications companies in Cambodia include Smart, owned by Malaysian telecom giant Axiata; Cellcard, which is owned by the politically connected tycoon Kith Meng as part of the Royal Groupconglomerate; and Metfone, which is connected to the Vietnamese military.

A representative from Cellcard yesterday declined to answer questions about whether the company had paid into the funds, while an official at Metfone did not respond to emailed questions.

Smart has previously called for greater transparency surrounding revenue collection in the sector, though has avoided direct criticisms of the government’s approach.

Speaking about the company’s tax payments at an event held in August, Smart CEO Thomas Hundt said, “At this moment I would like to highlight the importance and desire for transparency, and certainly also a level playing field amongst all industry players that is not given to the full extent at this moment.”

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