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Gov’t sets deadline for telecom firms to settle their debts

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A man browses Facebook at a local cafe. The government issued an announcement giving telecom firms until the end of May to settle debts owed to the ministries. Hong Menea

Gov’t sets deadline for telecom firms to settle their debts

The government issued an announcement giving telecommunications companies until the end of May to share their revenues and settle other outstanding debts owed to the Kingdom’s ministries.

According to an announcement dated April 11, which was jointly released by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Cambodia’s telecom firms have been told “to settle any debts” owed to the ministries by May 31 to avoid punishment.

If companies do not pay the money they owe, according to the release, the government will publicly name and shame all the non-compliant operators via various media channels.

“The government will proceed to take legal action, including freezing company bank accounts and import-export activities, restricting their methods of communication, banning all public procurement activities, suspending or withdrawing licences – including operating licences and radio frequency licences – and as an ultimate course of action, a lawsuit will be filed with the court,” it said.

Telecommunications in Cambodia include fixed broadband, mobile broadband and internet service providers, which are regulated by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Long history of debts

The Kingdom’s telecom firms have a long history of outstanding debts to the government, with officials citing millions in lost revenue since the early 2000s as a result of non-payment.

Neither ministry could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) spokesman Im Vutha on Sunday said the revenue share and debt refer to unpaid regulatory fees owed to the government based on each company’s specific operating licence. It is supposed to be paid annually by the end of March each year.

Vutha said there are about 81 telecom companies currently operating in Cambodia. He could not provide further details about individual debts owed and would not give an estimate of the total amount due.

“Generally, the majority of operators are able to fulfil the requirement, but there are always some that are late or unwilling to follow,” he said.

“They all need to come together and follow regulations to increase government revenue and the wellbeing of the sector.”

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