Telecom operators favored over public; motion submitted to parliament

Communications, Science and Technology Minister, Mohamed Maleeh Jamal.

A motion against the Telecommunications Ministry for operating in the detriment of the public and for the benefit of the telecommunication operators has been submitted to the parliament.

The motion was submitted by Central Maafannu MP Ibrahim Rasheed. 

The motion read that those charged with the responsibility of overseeing the telecommunication services were operating without amending the long-running laws of the nation and for the benefit of the telecommunication operators. The motion noted that this was extremely detrimental to the public and called for an end to this practice. 

The motion also criticized the fact that the standards of operating by these operators were not set out and the rights of the customers were not guaranteed even if a new telecommunication operator was provided a license to operate under the presumption of reducing internet prices in the Maldives. 

The motion read that without the necessary laws and regulations, permitting a new telecommunication operator would not be beneficial to the public. 

Central Maafannu MP Ibrahim Rasheed. (Photo/Parliament)

“An emergency issue is being submitted because it cannot be permitted for a new telecommunication operator to profit in billions without any benefits being provided to the public and without checks and balance system in place.” Read the motion. 

The motion also noted that the internet issue was not only related to the service providers and noted multiple other issues.

  • Lack of regulations to be made under the telecommunication laws.
  • Lack of oversight in how much the law is implemented and lack of action in cases of violation. 
  • Lack of standard and quality control as well as prices as is stipulated in the law. 
  • Failure by the Communications of Authority of the Maldives in regulating the industry at all. 
  • Lack of modern telecommunication infrastructure in the Maldives. 
  • Lack of an open-access network service established in the Maldives, resulting in failure to develop other industries. 

Due to these issues, it was questionable whether the communication issues would be resolved by permitting anew telecommunication operator. 

“Due to a lack of a regulated environment, the government is unable to bring down the prices even if the pleas of the public are heard.” Read the motion. 

It is a pledge of the current administration to bring down internet prices, which are some of the highest in the Asia region. However, the pledge remains to be fulfilled despite two years passing since the administration took office.

The motion comes shortly after stern criticism was directed at Telecommunication Minister Maleeh Jamaal by lawmakers. A motion of no confidence against the Minister is also in the works.