Tue, 19 Dec 2000

Mastel urges government to form regulatory committee

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Information and Telecommunications Society (Mastel) urged the government on Monday to immediately establish an independent regulatory committee for the telecommunications sector in light of more open competition in the near future.

Sutrisman, a senior executive at Mastel, said the open competition, as a consequence of the new telecommunications law which took effect in September, would inevitably create friction among competing operators.

"An independent committee is needed to issue regulations that will solve these problems between operators," he said in a discussion.

Sutrisman said a regulatory committee could determine who could join the competition so that no single majority would monopolize the market.

"Operators need a level playing field so that competition runs fairly," he said.

Mastel chairman Sukarno Abdulrachman said even if a committee was established now, its benefit would only be felt in another few years.

"So it is imminent that we establish one now if we don't want to miss the train," he said.

The director-general of post and telecommunications, Sasmito Dirdjo, agreed that an independent regulatory committee was needed.

Sasmito said Indonesia had fallen behind other countries in the telecommunications sector, and needed heavy investments to keep up.

"The country needs a transparent and predictable regulator that is good for investment," he said.

He said the role of the committee would not overlap or even overshadow the role of the directorate, as his office would only deal with government policies while the committee would regulate, monitor and control the competition.

The committee's duties would include regulating telecommunications rates and issuing permits, Sasmito said.

"It should also have the power to punish and revoke permits," he added.

The committee would comprise a chairman, a vice chairman and five members, Sasmito said, adding that a secretariat should also be formed to help with day-to-day operations.

Sasmito said, however, that an independent committee did not mean it was separate or not responsible to the government.

He said the committee's members could be appointed by the government with acknowledgement from the House of Representatives.

"Therefore, members would technically be civil servants, but another problem would be how much to pay them as obviously a civil servant's pay would not be enough," Sasmito said.

The deputy of the state minister for administrative reform, J.B. Kristiadi, said only the secretariat should be made up of civil servants, while the committee should be run by people from the private sector. (tnt)