Only 2.6% of universal service funds collected in Nepal over the past 17 years has been disbursed

Posted on April 2, 2015  /  2 Comments

One does not expect a simple assignment in a course to yield a news story that is distributed by a news service, but that is what happened at the broadband course we taught 28-31 March in Nagarkot, Nepal.

The assignment required the team members to, inter alia,

Assess the likelihood of success of the following elements of the Broadband Policy Draft of the NTA, by assembling evidence on the past performance of the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF) (including disbursement efficiency (i.e., what percentage of money was spent within a defined time period)

The extraordinarily low disbursement rate caught everyone’s attention. Given the presence of journalists in the course, it was not surprising that it made the news too:

The government has spent only 2.6 per cent of the money accumulated in Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF) in the last 17 years. This shows that a huge amount of resources has remained idle in the fund, which was supposed to be utilised for extending telecom services to rural areas.

As of March-end, Nepal Telec-ommunications Authority (NTA) collected a total of Rs 10.22 billion for RTDF from income of its licensees till last fiscal. Each licensee of NTA contributes two per cent of their annual income from services in RTDF that was established as per a provision in Telecommunications Act 1997.

The Act says the fund has to be used for making telecom services available in ‘rural areas’. So far, Rs 265.69 million has been paid to Nepal Telecom (NT) and Rs 2.95 million to Subisu Cable Net from the fund for their involvement in service expansion to rural and remote areas.

“NT was provided the sum from the RTDF based on a Cabinet decision,” said Director of NTA Ananda Raj Khanal, addressing a panel discussion organised as a part of the workshop ‘How to engage in broadband policy and regulatory process’ on Tuesday. He said that NT had expanded telecom services at the village development committee level under a five-year campaign launched in 2059 BS (2002-03).

– See more at: