Telecommunication service providers will now have to pay government 10 cents levy for every gigabyte of data used by their customers as Parliament has passed the Telecommunication Amendment Bill.
Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they had to bring this policy as revenue for the Telecommunication Development Trust Fund has significantly dropped.
This trust fund was established to collect levy that was charged on all incoming international calls and as a result of that government was able to raise funds that was later invested in the telecommunication sector.
Sayed-Khaiyum says revenue collection from this has significantly dropped as most people do not make voice calls now and simply web chat, use facebook messenger or do Viber calls.
He says the levy of 10 cents per gigabyte will not make a dent to the ordinary consumers as they are now getting reduced rates because of the sharpening of the pencil that has been facilitated by the Fiji Competition and Consumer Commission.
Sayed-Khaiyum says this levy will go into a trust fund which will be used to provide community outreach connectivity.
While contributing to the debate, National Federation Party’s Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says this levy does not make any sense and he sees an ulterior motive.
SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya has questioned this move saying there will be increased internet charges.
In response, Sayed-Khaiyum says the collection of the fees is for the future as the world is gearing up for 5G network and for this, the state will have to fund a lot of money up front.
Vodafone Fiji is currently studying and analyzing the scope and full impact of the 10 cents levy for every gigabyte of data that they will have to pay to government.
Digicel is expected to comment later.