Thursday, December 30, 2010

Low payment of regulatory fees hampers PURA’s activities

The Gambia Public Regulatory Authority (PURA) has disclosed that low payment of regulatory fees by operators in the telecommunications, electricity, and the water and sewage sectors has continue to hamper some of its regulatory activities.
Even though the amount collectible as regulatory fees by PURA was pegged at a ceiling of 1.5% of the operators’ turnover – which is one of the lowest rates charged by regulatory authorities in Africa - operators in The Gambia still not paying up fees as invoiced by the Authority.
According to PURA’s 2009 Annual Report, out of amount of D42, 606 million budgeted as regulatory fees income, only D34, 376 million was collected, leaving an outstanding balance of D8, 229,651.   
The report added that all telecoms operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have fully paid their regulatory fees for 2009, excepted Gamtel, Africell, and Unique Solutions.  Out of the D11, 761,542 invoiced to Gamtel, it only paid D8, 821,157 leaving an outstanding balance of D2, 940,385.  Africell paid D9, 500,000 out of D10, 825,256 invoiced to them leaving an outstanding balance of D1, 325, 256.  Unique Solution did not pay a single butut out of D50, 000 invoiced to them.  
Again, National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) owe PURA, as they did in 2007.   NAWEC paid D5, 000,000 out of D6, 448 608 invoiced to them, leaving an outstanding balance of D1, 448,608 for 2009 regulatory fees. Global Electric Group (GEG), an independent power production company, paid D2, 000,000 out of D4, 465,402 invoiced to them, leaving an outstanding balance of D2, 465,402. 
“Undoubtedly, the non compliance by NAWEC and GEG has continued to hamper the implementation of some of PURA’s regulatory activities in the energy sector,” the report stated.
“PURA depends on two main sources for its income.  These are regulatory fees from regulated utilities and government subvention,” it added.    
The amount demanded from operators as regulatory fees is based on the annual budget of PURA, which is approved by the Board of Commissioners.  The amount collectible as regulatory fees pegged at a ceiling of 1.5% of the operators’ turnover, which is one of the lowest rates charged by regulatory authorities in Africa. 
The ceiling was determined to ensure that “operators do not incur exorbitant regulatory charges which are passed on to consumers”, the report noted, adding that in the year 2009, 1.3% of operators’ turnover was invoiced.  Despite that consideration, the payment of regulatory fee by NAWEC and GEG has not been encouraging.  
The report noted that the major expenditure of the PURA has been on staff cost, the same as of last year.  “The Authority has been very prudent in utilizing its financial resources,” it stated adding that with the recruitment of more staff, and the outlook for the next nine months it is envisage that more resources would be spent on the procurements of essentials spectrum monitoring equipments and staff training, consumer outreach and sensitization programmes, consumer parliament sessions, consultancies and other staff incentives policies.


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