Thu, 04 Dec 2003

Mastel suggests restructuring of BRTI

Eva C. Komandjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Telecommunications Society (Mastel) has called for the restructuring of the newly established Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Body (BRTI), saying the agency's independence from the government was questionable.

In a hearing on Wednesday with House of Representatives Commission IV which oversees telecommunications, Mastel chairman Giri Suseno said under the current structure, BRTI was weak given the presence of director general of post and telecommunications Djamhari Sirat as chairman of the agency's regulatory committee.

Given his position as chairman, he could influence decision making in the BRTI.

Under Ministerial Decree No. 31/2003 on BRTI, the BRTI committee can make decisions, either through consensus or voting. However, all decisions need the approval of the directorate general.

Therefore, Mastel said, BRTI would only serve as a "think tank" that had no authority to implement its decisions.

This contravenes the World Trade Organization (WTO) reference paper and the guidelines set by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's (APEC) Telecommunications Working Group, which state that a telecommunication regulating body must be legally and structurally independent from the government.

"The regulatory body must also have legal responsibility and full authority in making decisions, with sufficient resources to enable it to perform its job," Giri said.

Mastel recommended a reorganization of BRTI to bar the director general from heading the BRTI committee.

Giri suggested that BRTI should adopt the Australian model of a regulatory body.

He did not provide details about the Australian model, but he said the model was flexible and applicable in Indonesia and was not in conflict with Indonesia's legal system.

Rosyid Hidayat, a deputy chairman of Commission IV, said that it would discuss Mastel's proposals with Minister of Communication Agum Gumelar as soon as possible because BRTI was scheduled to start functioning later this month.

BRTI was established in July 2003 to meet the requirement set by the House in allowing the government to raise telephone rates.

It was formed under Telecommunications Law No. 3/1999, which says that the government must delegate its function of regulating, supervising and controlling telecommunications to a regulatory body.

The House, the telecommunications industry players and observers have said an independent regulatory body was needed to ensure fair competition within the industry and to protect consumers.

Under the existing regulation, BRTI will have five members, including the director general of post and telecommunication who becomes as ex-officio chairman. The government has thus far selected three members for the committee, that is Koesmarihati, a telecommunication expert, Soetjipto, a legal expert and Suryadi Azis, an expert on social affairs.