Spiriting Cash

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Telecom operators are concerned that money meant to finance rural connectivity channeled to the cash strapped Treasury as a temporary measure, will not be available for the industry when the legal framework is ready. Telecom operators are concerned that money meant to finance rural connectivity channeled to the cash strapped Treasury as a temporary measure, will not be available for the industry when the legal framework is ready. International call payments are currently collected by the operators themselves until a planned fund is legislated.

The Treasury will by default become the retainer of these funds if the related Finance Act is passed by the legislature, before a Rural Connectivity Fund (Vishwa Grama Fund) is setup.

An incoming international call minute generates about Rs. 12 currently shared by the operators.

Opening of the international telecom market last year gave the government an opportunity to improve rural connectivity.

Operators agreed to channel part of their in-payments from overseas calls to a fund that will give subsidies to companies rolling out rural networks.

However laws to set up the Vishwa Grama Fund (VGF), to which every international call minute will contribute 11 US cents