Tax rates on international calls not increased, only uniform rates per minute – PTA briefed NA Committee
NA informed PTA revised rates of international incoming calls under Access Promotion Contribution regime
ISlamabad (Monday, November 19, 2012) – Government of Pakistan has not increased tax rates on international calls, but uniform rates have been fixed for all incoming international calls per minute.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had revised the rates of international incoming calls under Access Promotion Contribution regime, the National Assembly (NA) was informed here on Monday.
The Ministry of Information Technology in a written reply informed NA that to enforce stable tariff regime and to curb grey trafficking, the Ministry of IT issued policy directive for establishment of International Clearing House (ICH) on August 13, 2012. The objective of a single clearing house for international call termination and rate stabilisation is to realise the policy objectives such as real time traffic monitoring to fully account for all incoming traffic, curtail grey trafficking and promote local manufacturing in the telecom sector while ensuring the revenues for the government of Pakistan.
The cellular mobile subscribers numbers reached 120,151,235 (120 million) and province-wise data estimates that Punjab has consumer base of 60.67 million, Sindh 30.40 million, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 10.28 million, Balochistan 4.06 million, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan 7.37 million.
It is correct that LDI operators have been allowed to establish an International Clearing House (ICH) where all incoming international calls will be terminated. The objective of a single clearing house for international call termination is to realise the policy objectives such as real- time traffic monitoring to fully account for all incoming traffic, to curb grey traffic and promotion of local manufacturing in telecom sector while ensuring revenues of the telecom sector and contributions to government of Pakistan by operators.
The cabinet approved De-regulation policy for the telecommunication sector (July 2003), which has the enabling provision for establishment of consortium of long distance and international operators and the implementation of principle of ‘one country one rate’. Also, Pakistan Telecom (Re-organization) Act, 1996 mandates Ministry of IT to issue policy directives under, which the ministry issued policy directive for establishment of ICH on August 13, 2012 to enforce the tariff regime or policy in letter and spirit. Telecom operators (LDIs etc) are obliged to implement the regime.
As per standard practice, consultation on ICH was done with LDI industry as well as PTA. The consumers in Pakistan are not an affected party, under this policy.
As rates of incoming traffic only have been regulated, the consumer in Pakistan is not affected. The establishment of the ICH does not violate the competitive laws of the country. Currently however, the matter is subjudice in the Lahore High Court on account of similar issues raised.
In the fiscal year 2005-06, the telecom sector attracted the highest-ever $1.9 billion foreign direct investment (FDI), which was 54.1 percent of the total FDI in the country, the highest FDI share among all major sectors of the economy, FDI in 23 telecom started declining and reached $374 million during the fiscal year 2009-10 and was only 17 percent of the total FDI in the country during the year. Issuance of cellular mobile licences and establishment of telecom infrastructure in the country by telecom operators brought huge amount of $6.0 billion FDI in the country during the fiscal years 2005-06 to 2008-09. Now, telecom operators have established their basic infrastructure throughout the country, therefore, investments are only required for necessary expansion, system maintenance and upgrades. Therefore, FDI in telecom continued to decline.
To facilitate the mobile phone consumers PTA directed all mobile operators to establish complaint facilities at their offices. Consumers can launch their complaints online (on operators’ website), through mobile phone and by visiting six company offices. Mobile operators are helping the consumers round the clock if they face any problem.
In addition to mobile operators’ complaint mechanism, PTA has
also commissioned Complaint Management System (CMS), which provides prompt relief to mobile phone users in case they face issues not being, resolved by operators. This two-layer complaint handling mechanism is regularly monitored to ensure consumers are facilitated.
To control spamming effectively mobile operators were directed with detailed procedures to block SMS sending facility of numbers involved in spamming. The facility is opened after written undertaking of the subscriber.
Mobile operators provided facility of spam reporting through Short Code 9000 on all networks. On the instructions of PTA a common short code (420) was made available to mobile subscribers to opt for obnoxious call and SMS blocking facility.
Telemarketers are not allowed to send SMS to customers on their own, for this purpose a common short code 3627 (DNCR) has been issued.
PTA has taken serious note to stop fraudulent communication, hence directed mobile operators that balance transfer facility shall only be activated through an explicit consent or request from the mobile subscribers.
To facilitate the customers to port their mobile numbers from one operator to another, Pakistan Mobile Number Portability Database (Guarantee) Limited (PMD) was established in March 2007. Ever since launch of MNP, 15.35 million subscribers have availed the MNP facility. Each mobile operator has invested around $3 million for MNP.
PTA strongly believes that the key towards consumer activism is through creating awareness among the consumers regarding their telecom rights as well as knowledge about the contacts and seven procedures to lodge complaints and grievances. PTA and mobile operators were regularly publishing advertisements in the media for the awareness of mobile consumers. The recent PTA ads were published on October 18, 2012, which explain complaint-lodging process for consumers against spamming.