Blog — Page 61 of 337 — LIRNEasia


Few days back, I was part of a panel discussing the Sri Lanka RTI Bill that has gone through Constitutional Review. This was on Rupavahini, the government-owned channel. The Deputy Minister in charge of shepherding the bill through Parliament and a lawyer who had intervened in the Constitutional Review were the other members. The first time I engaged with the topic was in 2007. Then I went into high gear in 2011.
One of the most critical steps in an inquiry on anti-competitive practices or a merger/acquisition is the definition of the relevant market. For example, did the relevant market for a newspaper merger include radio and TV stations? In the 1950s, Dupont was ruled to be non-dominant in the relevant market which was defined as wrapping material, not clear, waterproof cellophane. Just based on that the government case collapsed. In the case below, the government lawyers wanted to define the relevant market narrowly to stop a merger.
“The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world.” In its latest report LIRNEasia was listed under the category “Top Think Tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific” along with IPS, RCSS and CEPA from Sri Lanka and was only South Asian think tank to be listed under “Best Policy Study-Report Produced by a Think Tank ” which was focused on our work in Big Data for Development. We were the only Sri Lankan entity to be listed “Best Independent Think Tanks” in an unranked list of 144 global think tanks. The TTCSP works with leading scholars and practitioners from think tanks and universities in a variety of collaborative efforts and programs, and produces the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index that ranks the world’s leading think tanks in a variety of categories. This is achieved with the help of a panel of over 1,900 peer institutions and experts from the print and electronic media, academia, public and private donor institutions, and governments around the world.
The 80 percent and 160 percent increases in taxes on voice-SMS-VAS services and data, respectively, caused me to write an oped anchored on one instrument of public policy, use of fiscal means to discourage use of demerit goods. I wish to make clear that there is nothing wrong with subjecting telecom services to normal taxation such as VAT and NBT. Many years ago, that was the case. But over time various additional levies were layered on top, taking the overall tax burden to around 32%. Around 2009, the previous Government rationalised the mess, exempting telecom services from general taxation while imposing a single telecom levy.
Bangladesh simultaneously exports and imports Internet bandwidth to and from India. Its geographic location and state of international connectivity have contributed to this interesting scenario. The first submarine cable (SEA-ME-WE4) was landed at Cox’s Bazar in 2005. This facility of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company (BSCCL) has dramatically improved the country’s overall international connectivity. Yet, the industry remained nervous about outages due to maintenance or accidental snapping of SEA-ME-WE4.
Few days back, I had a Twitter exchange with a journalist about news. "More than one-sixteenth of the average user’s waking time is spent on Facebook" https://t.co/mLtxgxcbc2 — Rohan Samarajiva (@samarajiva) May 7, 2016 @ChandaniKirinde Primary srce of news for 18-24 grp in #LKA WP is Facebook, acc repre survey. Unless u consdr news unproductive . .
There is doubt whether the fourth operator can mount a credible entry, given delays that are a necessary feature of 13 partners being involved. But they are supposed to have a trump up their sleeve: the military, which is a partner through Star High Public, may give the yet-to-be-named fourth operator exclusive access to military sites for their towers. This seems anti-competitive, on the face. But because the regulator and the competition authority are not in place, they may get away with it. Three telecom companies, including Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public Ltd, Star High Public Co Ltd and Viettel from Vietnam are negotiating a business plan to form the fourth telecom company to operate in Myanmar.
The government-owned Sunday Observer has carried a story on the unraveling of the previous tax regime affecting telecom services that makes reference to the findings of our Systematic Reviews. “This will be the highest tax ever imposed on telecom users in the country. It is likely to reduce telecom use, especially of data. It is contrary to government policy seeking to encourage internet use,” Prof. Samarajiva said.

Internet is the new oil

Posted on May 7, 2016  /  0 Comments

Our quest for laying optical fiber along the 143,000 kilometers of Asian Highway dates back to 2011. The objective is to liberate Asia’s increasingly digitized cross-border economy from exclusive dependency of submarine cables. Blending the overland and undersea telecoms infrastructure to solidify the continent’s competitive edge has been central to our mission. Thankfully the ESCAP, which fosters Asian Highway, has listened to us. Now it leads the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative.
Senior Research Fellow Payal Malik has co-authored an op-ed on surge pricing in the taxi market that addresses some key issues of platform markets. The distinguishing feature of platform markets is the lowering of transaction costs through the use of ICTs. State action to prohibit such applications is retrograde. Instead, what should be done is to remove no-longer-justifiable constraints such as rigid and limited issuance of licenses. The state fixes two parts of the taxi market.
It appears state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have risen in salience in Sri Lanka recently. I am giving a keynote address on this topic at the launch of the Advocata Institute. The slideset that I will be using is here. The day before yesterday, I was debating on a TV talk show what should be done with the least defensible of the SOEs, the renationalized SriLankan Airlines and the misbegotten Mihin Lanka. It is interesting that the successful reform that I was associated with, telecom, keeps coming up in these discussions.
I was asked to comment to the state-owned Sunday Observer on the Sri Lanka government’s decision to extend value-added taxes to the telecom industry. Below is my response. I have always taken the position that telecom services should be treated no differently from other goods and services. Therefore, I do not object to making telecom services subject to VAT. The problem is with the approximately 25 percent mobile levy.
Yesterday, a report entitled Rebuilding Public Trust was launched at a meeting attended by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Media Minister and his Deputy. I contributed to the report, primarily on policy and regulatory recommendations, not all of which were accepted, as is normal. My responses will be published shortly. But I was pleased that the report made several references to LIRNEasia research, below being one example. LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP research in Sri Lanka and other emerging markets in Asia have proved useful in making government understand the significance of telecom, especially the mobile, at the Bottom of the Pyramid.
It was good to see a succinct summary of the discussions at last week’s dissemination event in New Delhi, come out in the widely read Dataquest India. Recently LIRNEasia (Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies Asia) along with IIT Delhi organized an expert forum discussion on the impact of ICT on MSMEs(Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) in the developing countries. The forum disseminated the findings of two Systematic Reviews undertaken at LIRNEasia for dissemination among the policy makers and change agents, and to bring relevant stakeholders to share their experiences. The forum was conducted at IRD Conference Room, IIT Delhi, on 26th April 2016. Dr.
It was in 2010, that the Obama Administration announced a roadmap to release 500 MHz of spectrum. With the newest announcement, it looks like the targets are being met. The only thing worse than having no announced roadmap, is having a roadmap where the targets are not met. The Federal Communications Commission on Friday said it reached its greatest hopes for the amount of spectrum it would be able to offer to wireless carriers in an auction scheduled to begin in late May. Television stations flocked to provide the spectrum, promising to sell enough of the valuable airwaves they use for broadcast programming to reach the agency’s maximum target for the auction.
It was Herbert Simon who first talked of the attention economy: “Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” Now we see what the value of attention is. Ours is way below USD 11.86, but not zero and rising. What this means in dollars and cents for Facebook can be seen in numbers contained in its first-quarter financial results, released on Wednesday.