The government yesterday said 87 percent of telecom operators in Cambodia contributed $13.5 million to the Capacity Building, Research and Development (CBRD) fund and the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund established for the Telecommunication and ICT sector in 2017, but urged the remaining firms to play fair game in fulfilling their obligations.
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Created in July 2017, the funds collected $4.5 million and $9 million respectively, Kan Channmeta, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said at a press conference Wednesday.
“About 87 percent of the total telecom operators in Cambodia have fulfilled their obligations to contribute one percent of their gross revenue per year to the CBRD fund and two percent to the USO fund,” Mr Channmeta said.
Money collected in the USO Fund will be used for building telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas, while the funds in the CBRD reserve will be used for the development of human capital in the sector, he said.
He said there are 31 telecom operators running businesses in telecommunication and ICT in Cambodia. Of the total, 27 telecom operators fulfilled their obligations and contributed money to the funds; however, the other four telecom operators have yet to fulfill their obligations.
Mr Channmeta however did not disclose the names of the telecom operators which did not contribute, but said there will be no penalty for not contributing, however these firms will be approached to fulfill their obligations.
At the same time, he also elaborated on the use of the 2017’s CBRD fund in various projects, some of which were already completed while others demanding longer implementation are on course of completion.
“CBRD Funds was used to provide scholarship to students in the ICT area with 84 positions filled. Of the total, three students will be sent to pursue their master degree in France while 81 will attend the bachelor degree in the country of which 30 students are going to start the new academic year early in 2019 in the ICT segment.
“The money was also used to support soft skill training and ICT volunteers,” he said.
Mr Channmeta said part of the CBRD fund was also used to build computer laboratories in 20 high schools across the country via cooperation with the Education Ministry. He said this project was discussed by the two ministries – the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Posts – and will soon get approval from the CBRD council.
“We also provided funds to three research projects, namely Internet of Thing (IoT), Data Science, and Khmer Language processing which will start soon.
“We also use the fund to build the infrastructure for research and development in the field of ICT with the establishment of laboratories, and other infrastructures to support the educational sector. Priority is given to incubation centres in the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), the Incubation Center in National University of Management, other support infrastructures for the schools, a network laboratory room and an Innovation Center at NIPTICT which was completed in Oct 2019,” Mr Channmeta said.
He added that the fund was also used for seven projects to support activities and programmes destined to boost entrepreneurship in the technology sector. The focus is on skill training and jobs and fair competition as well as the SMEs Go Digital project which started in 2017 and is still being implemented.
Mr Channmeta, however, did not disclose how much of the funds were being used in each project, but he said the CBRD and USO funds for 2018 started in August and will close in March next year.
He said for those who have yet fulfilled the obligation according to the Telecom Law, the ministry will invite them show up to make their contributions.
“We discussed some measures with the operators who are yet to contribute. Now, we will not do any harm to them, but we will invite them to meet us and fulfill their obligation.
“We will work with them to push them to contribute to the fund and to be fair to all,” he said.