Telecommunication service providers to pay 10 cents levy

Attorney General, Minister for Economy,Civil Service and Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: RAMA/FILE

TELECOMMUNICATION service providers will have to pay a 10 cents levy to Government for every gigabyte of data used by their customers.

This came into effect after Parliament fast-tracked the Telecommunications Amendment Bill yesterday.

The Bill was enacted with 27 votes to 22, while two did not cast their votes.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the revenue which accounted for millions of dollars in the Telecommunication Development Trust Fund had dropped significantly.

He added people no longer used mobile phones for voice connectivity and international calls were made through apps such as Viber, Skype or other messengers which used internet data.

The trust fund, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said, was set up to collect levy charged on all incoming international calls and as a result of that, Government was able to raise funds that were later invested in the telecommunication sector.

“Many countries have adopted this approach and we are the first one to set up such a trust fund, we obviously have emulated what other countries have done,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“Gigabytes are of course the measurement of data so you have one gigabyte and of course you can go on to terabytes, the more data you use and the capacity that needs to be used.”

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC), he said, was now looking at the termination rates for telecommunication networks.

Termination rates are charges that one telecommunication operator charges to another for terminating call on its network.

“When you have a company who has a dominant position in the market and a new entrant into the market, mainly the dominant player can start dictating the rates. We expect in that period of time for termination rates to also come down,” he said.

“The overall cost of access to data and termination rates is significantly coming down in the Fijian market.

“So this small fee of 10 cents per gigabyte will not necessarily make a dent with the ordinary consumer because they will be getting reduced rates in any case because of the sharpening of the pencil facilitated by FCCC,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added.

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