HKT slams HKSAR govt's license fee proposal

07 Aug 2018

HKT has sharply criticized the HKSAR government for what the operator called a “completely back to front” approach in its proposal for implementing a court-mandated reduction in telecoms license fees.

The HKSAR government proposed in June to reduce customer connection fees from HK$700 ($89.2) to HK$500 for each 100 customer connections, and to reduce the fees for each mobile station for mobile radio system and private radio system licenses.

This proposal was a response to finding from the Court of Final Appeal that the government had been using a flawed methodology for setting license fees, and instructed the government to develop a new basis for calculating the fees that would fully take into account the court's judgement.

But in a fiery submission to a consultation on the proposed license fee reduction, HKT accused the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development and the Communications Authority of providing “woefully inadequate information” about how the proposed new fee structure was calculated.

The consultation paper released for the process was a mere six pages long and contained no reference to the court's judgement, HKT said.

“It was as if the government were completely ignoring the court and acting above the rule of law,” HKT's submission states.

While the Secretary and the CA released an additional paper in July, this too was “woefully inadequate”, HKT said. The operator said the lack of information about the methodology used to calculate the fees has left it unable to make constructive comments on the proposals.

HKT also expressed concern about what it suggested was the government's proposal to use retained earnings from the higher license fees ruled excessive by the court to reduce future license fees.

HKT said these retained earnings belong to the licensees that have overpaid in the past and should be returned prior to implementing the new fee structure.

“The government’s approach is completely back to front. The government should first agree a methodology for calculating the amount of past excessive payments and the amounts which must be repaid to licensees,” the paper states.

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