By: L.N. Reklai
December 8, 2017 (Koror, Palau) A bill to regulate telecommunications industry in Palau was signed by President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. last night at the launching of the fiber optic connectivity service of Belau Submarine Cable Corporation.
One component of the law anticipated and demanded by the new cable corporation addresses safety and security of the fiber optic cable itself. [restrict]
The law sets up a regulatory authority and establishes basic rules to manage the industry including universal access, interconnection, licensing, among others.
President Remengesau in his transmittal letter said that the “Telecom law supports our national goal of continuing to upgrade our domestic infrastructure by providing solid framework for future domestic infrastructure expansion.”
He added that the “bill’s greatest accomplishment is the introduction of the principle of “shared infrastructure, shared cost”.
Some key changes in the bill include removing PNCC’s tax exempt status, levying 15% of the gross receipts of the telecom providers toward Universal Access Fee.
The 15% will be paid to the regulatory authority which will be a Bureau of Communications under the Ministry of MPIIC. The funds, according to the law, will be used to pay off the RUS loan.
PNCC Chairman Ngiratecheboet fears the law will “cripple PNCC”. He contests that the removal of PNCC’s tax exempt status and levy of 15% for universal access fee will put PNCC under dire financial straits.
Imposition of the 15% of gross receipt for universal access fee will begin in March of 2018 according to the law. [/restrict]