The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has extended the deadline for telecoms to make mandatory contributions to a pair of funds by a month after a large percentage of the companies did not pay, according to one fund’s manager.
The 2016 Telecom Law and subsequent sub-decrees set up the two funds – Capacity Building, Research and Development Fund (CBRD) and Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) – which have the broad 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.
Telecom companies are forced to pay a percentage of their annual revenue into the funds each year.
Tol Gnak, who oversees the USOF, said yesterday that the original deadline of February 28 was postponed until the end of March, as many operators were negotiating with the ministry to fulfill their obligation in installments due to cash flow issues.
Gnak and the manager of the CBRD held a press conference early last month, during which they said only one-third of telecom companies had paid so far, putting the total amount contributed at $4.2 million out of an expected $17 million.
A single telecom, Smart Axiata, reported paying $3.5 million at the time, making it likely that fellow telecom giants Cellcard and Metfone had not paid their full amounts.
Gnak declined to give the amount of money currently in the funds, only noting it was higher than a month ago. He also declined to name which organisations had or had not paid their fees.