Telecoms minister resigns over SIM card pricing

21 Jan 2013

Local news publication The Irrawaddy reports that Thein Tun, the Minister for Posts and Telecommunications of Myanmar, has resigned following his refusal to endorse the lowering in price of new SIM cards. The President’s Office is believed to have wanted to set the price of a SIM card for GSM and CDMA450 handsets at MMK50,000 (USD55), but Thein Tun argued that this was too low, favouring instead a plan to produce four million SIM cards and to sell them for MMK200,000 (USD220). ‘Thein Tun felt that the President’s Office didn’t trust his plan, and he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t set the price himself, so he quit,” said Tun Tun Lwin of the IGE Company, which has invested in the country’s telecoms market via a joint venture with Myanmar Yadanabon, a local IT company. The telecoms ministry has produced three million SIM cards to date, enough for less than 10% of the population, and private companies have reportedly asked the ministry to sell them at a cheaper price. The final price will be announced once a new telecoms minister has been appointed.