Uganda Government Intervenes in MTN-UTL Cash Wrangle
Tuesday 15 March 2011
The government yesterday moved to stop MTN from shutting out Utl from routing its calls through its network. Mr Aggrey Awori, the ministry of Information and Communications Technology, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the government had given the two parties a 14-day ultimatum to settle all the discrepancies arising from the dispute.
In a phone interview, Mr Themba Khumalo, the MTN chief executive officer, said the government had asked them to hold talks with Utl and devise ways through which the debt obligation could be settled.
"We hope Utl meets its end of the bargain so that there are no disruptions in the future," he added.
The move is likely to calm simmering tension arising from a disputed Shs20 billion debt that MTN says Utl owes it.
The money was reportedly accumulated from interconnection charges since 2006.
In a statement yesterday, the government asked the two parties not to take any action that would be prejudicial to the provision of communication services to the general public.
Last week MTN said it would beginning March 14 (yesterday) shut out Utl subscribers from routing its calls through its network.
However, Utl dismissed the Shs20 billion debt claims as an exaggeration with a malicious intent.
Utl said it was only aware of a Shs3.8 billion debt, which had been subjected to the Commercial Court for disposal, adding that it had no plan of remitting any money to MTN before the disposal of the case due for April 28.
The dispute as alleged by Utl is linked to traffic routed through MTN to Southern Sudan, which the firm says was invoiced as local traffic.
Utl said after acquiring permission from the government to host Southern Sudan on Uganda's +256 477 code, it wrote to all telecoms informing them of the development.
It demanded that calls to Southern Sudan be treated as international traffic, which is lowly charged compared to local traffic charged at Shs131.
However, as noted, Utl said MTN had invoiced calls to Southern Sudan as local traffic.
Reacting to the allegation, Mr Khumalo, was yesterday quoted in the press as saying that Utl was only being diversionary adding: "Hiding behind the disputed amount does not solve the problem."
By Othman Semakula and Isaac Imaka : The Monitor Newspaper
Comments for Uganda Government Intervenes in MTN-UTL Cash Wrangle