FPT the sole skimper
A report by the Public-Utility Telecommunication Services Fund shows that from 2015 to June 2017, telecommunications operators have contributed VND4.1 trillion ($180.36 million). In 2015, 28 out of 29 companies completed their financial obligations to the fund. However, FPT Telecom JSC did not register a plan, report its financial data nor complete its payment, and only contributed a temporary payment of VND210 million ($9,238).
In 2015, 27 telecommunication companies registered and completed their contributions to the fund in the first six months. FPT Telecom is the only one that has not reported its data and registered its contribution as per regulations.
According to the fund’s representative, since FPT has not reported its earnings from telecommunications services, the fund has not been able to determine the exact amount it owes. However, with a revenue of VND5.57 trillion ($245 million) in 2015 and VND6.66 trillion ($293 million) in 2016, that amount is sure to be much larger than their temporary payment.
|Despite huge revenue, FPT Telecom is the only company that has yet to pay the compulsory public telecommunications contribution
According to Pham Van Dung, director of the fund, written communications and delegations were sent to try and resolve the issue, but FPT Telecom has been constantly making excuses.
Dung believes that while every other telecommunications company has made their contribution in full, FPT is deliberately avoiding its financial obligations, creating inequality in the industry.
FPT recommends terminating the fee
In Decision No.1168/QD-TTg dated July 24, 2015, approving the programme of public telecommunications services supply by 2020, the prime minister stated that telecommunications companies have a financial obligation to contribute 1.5 per cent of their turnover from telecommunications services to the Public-Utility Telecommunication Services Fund.
The fund will be used to invest in the development of broadband telecommunications infrastructure nationwide, with priority on remote and isolated areas, disadvantaged areas, border areas, and islands. The fund will also generalise public telecommunications services, ensuring an equal right to access for every people and household.
The fund will be used to ensure the communication for search and rescue, the direction and operation of natural disaster prevention and control, as well as the availability of broadband internet access in educational institutions, hospitals, and the people’s committees of communes nationwide.
At the dialogue on digital economy at Vietnam Private Sector Forum (VPSF) 2017 on July 31, Bui Quang Ngoc, deputy chairman of the board and CEO of FPT, recommended to remove the public-utility telecommunications fee.
Ngoc also said that FPT has sent competent agencies many written recommendations to remove this regulation or asking them to switch to a voluntary contribution model.
In response to this recommendation at VPSF, Nguyen Thanh Hung, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, said that it is impossible to abolish the public-utility telecommunications fee now because the fund is being used to build telecommunications infrastructure in rural and remote areas, creating a balance and shortening the development gap between regions.
Hung affirmed “the public-utility telecommunications fee cannot be removed, we can only minimise the amount companies have to contribute. The government needs the fund to balance the development disparity between urban and rural areas.”
Previously, on October 3, 2016, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Pham Hong Hai has sent official dispatches to the Vietnam Internet Association and FPT Telecom, affirming that the establishment and operation of the Public-Utility Telecommunication Service Fund have been shown clearly in the Law on Telecommunications and government Decree No.25/2011/ND-CP. The programme of public telecommunications services supply by 2020 was created with the cooperation and recommendations of many ministries and sectors, as well as experience learned from other countries and input from telecommunications companies.
The dispatches stated, “The Public-utility Telecommunications Programme is a major initiative of the Vietnam Communist Party and the government, and has been operating for many years. As such, FPT Telecom needs to follow regulations on contributions to the fund.”