Curb on SIM retailers hits cell firms, exchequer
By: Zulqernain Tahir
LAHORE: The cellular companies’ sales volume has dropped by about 70 per cent after the Pakistan Telecom Authority banned retail channels for new SIMs over two months ago.
The PTA on the direction of the interior ministry allowed the sale of the new connections only through company-owned service centers and franchises, limiting the access of the common man to these outlets.
It is not only the operators who got affected by the PTA’s new measures but the government is also suffering losses because of the curb in terms of revenue.
“The national exchequer received 29 per cent less revenue during the last two months (Dec-Jan) as compared to the corresponding period. If this trend goes on, the five operators may lose Rs35 billion in revenue in 2013, and the government about Rs10.5 billion,” a source in the PTA informed Dawn on Thursday.
He said new connection’s sale of the five cellular operators in the country was averaging around four million per month till November last. The current data indicates the sale has dropped to 1.2 million per month. The number of new connections sold by Ufone in January 2013 was 300,000, Zong 295,000, Mobilink 286,000, Telenor 250,000 and Warid 112,000. “This sector has lost over Rs.2 billion per month in the last two months,” the source said.
On the other hand, ‘forced network outages’ and closure of cellular services in the name of terrorism have also caused a loss of Rs3 billion to the operators while the government lost Rs900 million in terms of revenue.
“Inconsistent policies and too much focus on resolving the issue of terrorism through crippling the telecom network will have consequences for the country’s economy,” a telecom analyst said.
The cellular telecom industry was generating Rs30 billion revenue per month before the issuance of the PTA directive aimed at curbing terrorism.