Uganda Telco Regulator puts $16.7m at stake due to procurement delays

UCC Head: Godfrey Mutabaazi

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is facing massive delays in tendering a firm that would give a technical solution for quality and revenue assurance system that would be used to check accurately the billing of international call earnings of the different telecom operators to make sure they pay correct taxes. The delay is anticipated to cost the nation up to a tune of UGX 43 billion ($16.7 million) once it exceeds the 2013/14 financial year.

According to an internal source that disclosed to The Daily Monitor anonymously, UCC was not yet anywhere close to finishing the tendering process.

The government tasked UCC to seek services of an independent professional firm to monitor all telecoms’ international call revenues so that they are taxed accordingly. This was all done due to mistrust of the telcos, fearing that they would under declare revenues from international calls. The process to tender the firm began November last year and attracted bids from ZTE, Huawei,(Both from China) Pro Logix (From United Arab Emirates), Link Telecom (UAE) Voptecom (British Virgin Island), Global VoiceGroup (South Africa) and Tel International. However all the firms were disqualified by UCC citing that none of them had the necessary criteria and none met the requirements.

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The tender was re-advertised in February and the criteria for the tender was relaxed on advise from UCC to the government as the regulator cited that the government was loosing money.  The source further reveals that the bid notice attracted two more international firms a one Galaxtone from UAE and Delloite Uganda, bringing the total number of bidders to nine.

According to Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC’s executive director, the bids have already been received, and the evaluation process will begin soon and expected to be completed in a few months. He also said that there was no cry for alarm since the government is already earning some revenue in form of excise duty from incoming international calls.

In the 2013/14 budget, the government introduced a levy on all international incoming calls where it hoped it could raise about Ugx 43 billion the money the country badly needs after recent aid cuts from some countries in the western world.The amount would contribute at least 3% to the total national budget now at UGX 13 trillion.