Thousands of young people expressed anger on Facebook last week because the cost of making mobile phone calls has become significantly more expensive since December 4. The rises are at least 4.5 cents for calls made within the same network and 5.95 cents for calls made between different networks, according to Prakas 232, which was released in 2009 but not enforced until a week ago.
Users of low-cost provider Smart Mobile left close to 800 comments on its Facebook page following the announcement that there would be no more special promotional call rates.
“Expenses are higher but the salary is the same. How can Khmer people live?” one user wrote.
Kaka Carefree shared this view and appealed to the authorities: “I hate that policy please take a look at the many people that have a financial crisis in the family, they need to reduce their expenses. Please think it through deeply.”
In a press conference last Monday, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Prak Sokhon explained the measure, stating that the government needs the additional tax revenue to pay for the expenses of social programs. In addition it would benefit the consumers in the long run because it strengthens competition within the market – a view economic specialists disagree on.
Anthony Galliano, CEO of Cambodian Investment Management, told the Post on December 4 that consumers would actually lose the most from the policy, saying that there was “no upside for them at all”.
Denis Schrey, head of the German Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Cambodia, told LIFT in an email last Monday that the Prakas could cause people to reduce their mobile phone use, depending on how price sensitive they are.
“It is very possible that people will communicate less, especially in rural areas.”
In response to the concerns of Facebook users who spoke out against the regulation, Sokhon held a press conference, saying: “I am not concerned about whether they protest against this regulation.
“What I fear are people who understand the regulation but pretend to not understand it.”