LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Myanmar regulatory vacuum may be filled by regional legislatures

The Myanmar Constitution is a highly centralizing document. For example, tourism, a subject that is given over to sub-national units to administer in many countries, is assigned solely to the union or central government. But it goes beyond that, assigning authority over hotels and lodging houses solely to the union government.

Therefore, there should be no surprise that telecommunications is a union subject according to the Myanmar Constitution. In all countries, with the limited exception of the United States, telecommunications is the responsibility of the highest level of government.

Yet, a recent news report indicates that the Yangon regional legislature is contemplating action on pricing procedures employed by telcos:

“We are scrutinising the complaints about the MPT’s overcharging. The overcharging is linked to background downloading, news updates, software updates and auto updates,” Nilar Kyaw.

“A plan is underway to educate mobile users. In addition, the Directorate of Telecommunications is also scrutinising overcharging and contracts signed with Telenor and Ooredoo.”

This is most likely caused by delays in setting up the ICT sector regulatory agency and inaction by the de jure regulator, the Post and Telecom Department of the Ministry of Transport and Communication. If the union authorities do not act quickly, the legal regime governing the ICT sector could be muddied, leading to greater regulatory uncertainty for investors and a stalling of the so-far-exemplary progress made in connecting the people of Myanmar.

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