Nepal’s Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the constitutional body set up to tackle improper conduct and corruption issues in the country, has given its approval for the government to begin issuing unified telecoms licences to alternative operators. Following its investigation into the matter, the CIAA yesterday issued its decision that the state can forge ahead with plans to implement the Radio Frequency Distribution and Pricing Policy (2012). The move comes after its announcement just two weeks ago, directing the government not to move ahead with the plan for fear of the loss of potential revenue in licence renewal fees – i.e. one aspect contained within the new policy.
The CIAA has published a six-point directive to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) and the independent regulator the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) which includes, amongst other things, the stipulation that the government must ensure that licence renewal fees are collected, as well as guaranteeing competition in the market and a level playing field for all telcos concerned. Sameer Silwal, an investigation officer at the CIAA, notes: ‘The licence renewal fee set for the ‘basic telecom service’ in the spectrum policy was NPR2.75 million [USD32,000] less than the government had fixed through a cabinet decision last year … We have directed the government to ensure the collection of licence renewal fees as set by the government and to include a precondition that the licence will be renewed only after clearing the entire renewal fee — NPR20.133 billion — by the tenth year of operation.’
The CIAA’s backing now paces the way for the regulator to formally issue unified licences to the likes of United Telecom Limited (UTL), Smart Telecom and STM Telecom Sanchar.