‘Mo­bile phone com­pa­nies fleec­ing coun­try of forex’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Aux­ilia Ka­ton­go­mara

THE Govern­ment has said some telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion op­er­a­tors are fleec­ing the coun­try of sig­nif­i­cant amounts of for­eign cur­rency through in­ter­na­tional calls un­der-dec­la­ra­tions.

The Min­is­ter of In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy, Postal and Courier Ser­vices, Cde Supa Mandi­wanzira, said the sec­tor has the po­ten­tial to earn sig­nif­i­cant for­eign cur­rency for the coun­try but it seems that the num­ber of phone calls go­ing out­side the coun­try were be­ing in­flated, re­sult­ing in loss of pos­si­ble rev­enue.

Cde Mandi­wanzira told Par­lia­ment re­cently that Govern­ment did not have ad­e­quate ma­chin­ery to mon­i­tor in and out­go­ing call trans­ac­tions.

“The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sec­tor is in­deed one of the sec­tors that have the po­ten­tial to earn the coun­try sig­nif­i­cant amounts of for­eign cur­rency. Ac­tu­ally, it cur­rently does. For ev­ery call that is routed to this coun­try from out­side the coun­try, there is rev­enue that comes into this coun­try,” he said.

“How­ever, we are equally con­cerned that there ap­pears to be un­der-dec­la­ra­tions of rev­enues on the amount of calls com­ing into this coun­try with the in­fla­tion of calls that are leav­ing the coun­try where we have to pay for­eign cur­rency out­side.”

The Min­is­ter blamed the pos­si­ble loss of rev­enue on the li­cens­ing regime which al­lows all op­er­a­tors to have their own in­ter­na­tional gate­ways.

“Be­cause these in­ter­na­tional gate­ways are the con­duits for traf­fic out­side and into the coun­try, we are only able to de­ter­mine how much has come through and how much has gone out through their re­port­ing with­out any par­tic­u­lar sys­tem by our­selves to au­dit and make sure that those sta­tis­tics are trans­par­ent,” he said.

Cde Mandi­wanzira said they had asked the reg­u­la­tor, which is the Postal and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity, to con­sult and ad­vice the Min­istry on what could be done to make sure that the coun­try does not con­tinue to lose for­eign cur­rency.

“We have dis­cov­ered that there are com­pa­nies that are in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sec­tor in this coun­try that know that the min­i­mum amount you can ter­mi­nate traf­fic into a mo­bile phone in Zim­babwe from out­side the coun­try is $0.22,” the Min­is­ter said.

“What they have be­gun to do is mo­bilise traf­fic in for­eign mar­kets to come to this coun­try and they use re­lated com­pa­nies based in Mau­ri­tius and many other places to sell min­utes into Zim­babwe. Some of them sell for up to 36 cents but they de­clare into the coun­try 22 cents.”

He warned com­pa­nies in­volved in prej­u­dic­ing the coun­try say­ing the law would catch up with them.

“We have also dis­cov­ered that the same com­pa­nies are us­ing Mau­ri­tius reg­is­tered com­pa­nies which are not them­selves own­ers of any band­width to buy band­width in­ter­na­tion­ally and re­sell to re­lated com­pa­nies in Zim­babwe so that part of the mar­gin is be­ing kept out­side. So, we are work­ing on a num­ber of mea­sures which we are still con­sult­ing on. Once we are ready, we are go­ing to take ac­tion. This is an op­por­tu­nity Mr Speaker Sir, to warn the com­pa­nies that we are watch­ing you and we are com­ing at you,” said Cde Mandi­wanzira. — @Aux­il­iaK

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