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Indonesia to lift telephone charges JAKARTA - After a delay of about 10 months, the Indonesian government said it would raise telephone rates by an average 15 percent before the year end, The Jakarta Post reported Thursday. The Ministry of Communications' post and telecommunications Director-General Djamhari Sirat said Wednesday a similar hike, thethird 15 percent increase, would also be implemented next year.
The phone charge hikes are part of the government's three-year plan to crank up phone charges by 45.49 percent. The first stage hike was implemented in February 2002. The second phase was expected to be implemented in January this year along with rises in the prices of fuel and electricity. But the government was forced to cancel the utility price hikes due to strong protests from the public. The third phase will be carried out in 2004.
The phone rate hike is expected to boost the revenue of the country's fixed-line operators to allow them to invest more in thesector so that more people can have telecommunications access. The government said currently Indonesia has a fixed-line penetration rate of only 3.6 percent, meaning that only around 8 million fixed phone lines are available for a population of more than 220 million.
The state-owned publicly-listed telecommunications company PT Telkom has enjoyed strong profit during the past two years from its monopoly in the sector. The company in 2002 registered a 96.4 percent jump in net profit to 8.4 trillion rupiah (987.6 million US dollars, partly contributed to proceeds from the sale of asset.
Loss-making state-owned electricity company PLN has been forcedby the government to cancel a plan to raise electricity prices next year amid rising political tension ahead of the 2004 general elections. The government has also said it would maintain subsidies on fuel prices to help ensure stability in the prices ofthe commodity. Djamhari said the decision on the phone rate hike would come along with a new government regulation on the duopoly arrangement in the fixed-line telecommunications sector, in which PT Indosat (also a publicly listed firm now controlled by Singapore Technologies Telemedia) has been allowed to operate in the sector as well.
However, the phone rate hike is feared to lay new burdens on the people and businesses still struggling to recover from the impact of the economic crisis.



Posted in General @ 06 November 2003 00:05 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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