The colloquium was conducted by Harsha de Silva, PhD. Harsha began by explaining that the paper focus both on trains and buses, but in this colloquium will focus on the Bus transport. 75% of passenger transport is via public transport and of that 93% by bus and 7% by train. Roughly 5500 SLCTB and 18000 private buses. The fare is regulated by National Transport Commission (NTC).
At least some have first assumed it a practical joke, but Daily Mirror online confirmed President did send a New Year wish to all mobile users today. Using romanised Sinhala President wrote “Kiwu paridi obata NIDAHAS, NIVAHAL RATAK laba dunnemi. Idiri anagathaya sarwapparakarayenma Wasanawantha Wewa! SUBA NAWA WASARAK WEWA! Mahinda Rajapaksa” (As promised I delivered you an independent and free country.
“I came more to learn from you; than to teach” was the message I passed before my two presentations with Sujata. Thanks Fusion/Telecentre.org for the opportunity. The three days spent with 200+ telecenter operators from eight provinces in Sri Lanka was a worthy investment. One does not interact with so many ground level ICT4D practitioners every day.
LIRNEasia has come up with startling evidence on how transaction costs in agriculture could be reduced by simple mobile phone applications. The organization’s Lead Economist, Dr. Harsha de Silva called for a multi-stakeholder action plan to implement a series of actions that would help poor farmers as well as consumers by reducing information costs in agricultural markets and value chains. He was speaking at a panel following a public lecture by Indian Institute of Management Professor, Subhash C. Bhatnagar, who spoke on the benefits of ICT applications to farmers, taking India as an example.
In the process of trying to deflate inflation numbers (not inflation), the Government of Sri Lanka has removed alcohol and tobacco from the new price index because they are socially undesirable (not because government taxes are driving those prices through the roof) and included for the first time mobile phone charges. This is a positive move for a government that has imposed an additional 7.5 per cent levy on mobile charges (the government currently takes LKR 26.50 of every LKR 100 spent on mobiles through value-added and mobile-specific taxes). At least this should bury the misconception that mobiles are used only by the rich.
There was a big story about SMS use declining in India. The response to a question whether Sri Lanka SMS use is declining like in India was answered in the negative by Supun Weerasinghe, the new CEO of Dialog Mobile (Hans Wijayasuriya is now the Group CEO). The question was triggered by the decline of SMS and VAS revenues from LKR 1,468 m in 2006 3Q (8% of total revenues) to LKR 1,223 m in 2007 3Q (5% of total revenues).
Sri Lankan government withdrew proposed regressive tax of LKR 50 per month of its new tax proposals on mobile subscribers. LIRNEasia’s research evidence from the T@BOP study played an important role in pointing out the likely adverse effect of the proposed regressive tax on the mobile users at the “Bottom of the Pyramid”. The following are the articles/discussions on this topic. Sri Lanka plans to tax mobiles more heavily Taxing Sri Lanka’s mobile customers; Goose or eggs? Sri Lanka drops unfair mobile phone tax, slaps higher usage tax The following is an extract of the The Parliament of Sri Lanka’s Hansard on Mobile Taxation Issue on 6th September 2007.
A member of the Presidential Commission on the Tsunami has written an informative article on floods, dam breaches and the lack of warning about them. Twenty one years after Kantale, 2.5 years after the tsunami, 1.5 years after we handed over our extensive report on dam safety to the Disaster Management Center, more sensible writing on the subject. The analysis is done, the remedies known, now is the time for implementation.
The Sunday Lankadeepa of 12 August 2007 reports that the government has decided to raise the tax on mobile bills from 2.5% to 7.5% and also institute a LKR 50 monthly tax on all SIMs. These are special taxes that are levied over and above the standard VAT of 15%. The recommendation was first made by the extremist Jatika Hela Urumaya party that is part of the governing coalition.
Rohan Samarajiva | LankaBusinessOnline Fixed or Mobile March 28, 2007 (LBO) – It seems like a no-brainer: A mobile phone is better than a fixed phone, especially in Sri Lanka. The costs of getting a connection are lower: a new phone and SIM can cost as little as LKR 4,000, while SLTL charges around LKR 20,000 for a fixed connection and its competitors charge around LKR 10,000. Mobile phones are easy to use. They have built in directories and allow texting, though now these features are now available on the fixed CDMA phones as well. Calling people instead of places that people are associated with seems obviously better, unless you don’t want to be reached.
Looks like we have a virtuous cycle of investment going on. Not only the mobiles, but the fixed operators too are engaging in significant investment. Possibly the unusual predilection of the Sri Lankan consumer for fixed phones, over mobile, keeps Suntel going. For those not from Sri Lanka, 1 USD = 106 LKR, just lopping off two zeros will you a good sense of what is being discussed. LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO Telecom operator Suntel, a unit of Sweden’s Overseas Telecom AB, plans to spend 3.
There has been considerable discussion in Sri Lanka about the need to unlicense the 2.4 GHz band used for WiFi. The Director General has assured that a Gazette reducing the license fees to LKR 100 is on the way (it would good if this can be posted on the TRC website). While this constitutes significant progress and is indicative of the progressive approach of the current leadership at the TRC, the fact remains that a license fee of LKR 0 with a postcard notification, or complete unlicensing is the right solution. A user will have to spend hours if not days especially if he/she lives outside Colombo) fullfilling the requirements of a s.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 19 December 2005: A recent study has revealed that many financially constrained Jaffnaites spend more than 12 per cent of their monthly regular income on telecommunications. People in Jaffna depend heavily on mobile telecommunication and have the highest demand for international calls in the Sri Lankan sample. A study of ‘financially constrained’ telecom users in Sri Lanka has shown that compared to similar users in other areas of Sri Lanka, users in Jaffna exhibit markedly different patterns in their telecom use. The study, released today by LIRNEasia, an Asian research organization based in Colombo looks at telecom use amongst people whose monthly incomes are below LKR 10,000 in the Badulla, Colombo, Jaffna and Hambantota areas…… English press release: Jaffnaites spend up to 12% of their monthly regular income on telecommunications More information about the project: Jaffnaites spend up to 12% of their monthly regular income on telecommunications
CDMA is a big story in Sri Lanka these days. As a result of the frequency refarming process that was started in 2003 with the issuance of 1800 GSM frequencies to Dialog Telekom and Mobitel through an auction, 800 CDMA frequencies were released earlier this year by the Telecom Regulatory Commission. The article by Amal Jayasinghe in lbo.lk provides more detail on how the rollout is proceeding. Shortly after the article was published, Suntel began to offer LKR 1500 discounts, which may be the start of the price reductions I refer to in the Jayasinghe piece.
Question asked by a journalist: is there any basis for expecting that Sri Lanka’s very successful ICT strategy will in fact help in the economic recovery from the tsunami? For example, could ICT-enabled industries provide opportunities to replace the jobs/industries that have been damaged, or could the telecom structure help speed rebuilding efforts? In other words, have Sri Lanka’s efforts in building a digital economy put it in a better position to recover from this disaster? Answer: The fisheries industry that got almost wiped out had very low productivity. Itll come back, hopefully with better productivity.
Yesterday, I spoke to a large and restive crowd (made so by lack of air conditioning and a delayed start) in Matara (main city in the South of Sri Lanka) at the launch of the Pathfinder Foundation’s first book, a Sinhala translation of Janos Kornai’s Toward a free economy. I was asked to talk about globalization and the relevance of Kornai’s ideas for facing the challenges posed by globalization. In this talk that I pieced together thanks to time zone differences that caused me to wake up at 3 in the morning while in the US, I illustrated the issues referring to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), a broad area of service exports for which efficient, flexible and low-cost telecom is a pre-condition. I think the talk provides the "big picture" of the necessity of telecom reforms of the type that we at LIRNEasia are involved in. If we are to go beyond simply giving people phones, to giving them "money in the pocket and hope in the heart" this big picture is essential.