Sri Lanka leader calls for lower international phone tariffs in south Asia

Aug 02, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa called for lower international direct dial (IDD) tariffs to better integrate the people of south Asia when he opened a regional summit in Colombo Saturday. But the international regime was dismantled from 2003, though its remnants seems to be still alive within SAARC.

Last month he raised the issue again in his column, Choices on LBO.

Researching published rates, Samarajiva found that the cost of a one minute call from Pakistan to Sri Lanka was 22 cents, while it cost only 3 cents to call UK.

From India it cost 28 cents to call Nepal, but only 17 cents to call USA.

“The cheapest intra-SAARC price is four times that of the cheapest extra-SAARC price,” Samarajiva wrote in July.

He says cutting termination rates will bring tangible results to ordinary people in South Asia by making it cheaper to talk to each other.

“Then, we can refute the cynics who claim SAARC is a useless talk shop,” he said.

Updated This could be part of the effort to improve connectivity in the region, he tol