MPs’ panel directive: Make UTL pay its due

Kathmandu, January 7:

Parliamentary Development Committee (PDC) today directed the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) to immediately act to make the United Telecom Limited (UTL) pay royalty due to the government.

“Why has UTL not contributed 15 per cent of its investment to the government’s Rural Telecom Development Fund (RTDF), as per its commitment to contribute for rural development?” PDC Chairperson, MP Tanka Rai, asked, while directing the officials of the ministry and Nepal Telecommunications Authority to do the needful.

The ministry and NTA officials had attended the parliamentary committee’s meeting.

The UTL has submitted a proposal to the NTA saying it is able to pay only four per cent of its investment to the RTDF.

It has said the company could not generate revenue as expected due to various decisions taken by the government at different times.

The UTL has demanded Rs 444 crore as compensation for the “loss it had to bear due to the steps taken by the government in the last three years.”

Stating that the 20 per cent of UTL’s subscribers are from villages, the company has claimed that it was already contributing in rural development.

“Apart from the government’s decision of disrupting UTL’s telephone service time and again, and not letting the UTL to make new subscribers for a long time, the UTL has identified problems related to interconnection with Nepal Telecom, implementation of Carrier Access Code (CAC) and not getting permission to operate hand-held terminal as reasons for its loss,” Ananda Raj Khanal, Manager at NTA told the parliamentarians.

Khanal added that UTL has said that the provision requiring new subscriber to get recommendation from the a government officials while installing UTL telephone as an unnecessary hassle.

UTL is paying the committed amount of two percent of its gross annual revenue as royalty to the government.

Considering those problems, the government has already waived royalty amounting to Rs 19 crore to the UTL.

“No company can be favoured just because it has strong political backing. Nepal Telecom and Spice Nepal Ltd also had to bear similar loss as that of UTL, then why only UTL is asking for compensation?” asked UML member of the PDC Raghuji Panta.

The Parliamentary Development Committee also directed the government provide the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) telephone service to its full capacity or “full mobility.”

State Minister for Information and Communication, Dilendra Badu promised the MPs at the PDC that the government would take step for removing legal hurdles in expanding Code Division Multiple Access service.