Group urges local governments to rationalize fees for digital infra | Inquirer News

Group urges local governments to rationalize fees for digital infra

/ 08:56 PM November 28, 2023

Laptop with Wi-Fi symbol

MANILA, Philippines — Local governments must rationalize fees they charge telecommunications companies for their digital infrastructure projects as those fees get passed on to consumers, advocacy group CitizenWatch Philippines said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We have to know who ultimately suffers in the end… in this case, that would be the end-users and consumers, who have to make do with limited connectivity amid great demand for broadband services,” former Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte, a co-convenor of CitizenWatch, said.


He said that installation fees range from P8,000 to P70,000, depending on the local government.


“These fees add to the cost of building digital infrastructure and will eventually be felt by consumers… This is a barrier to our country’s digital transformation agenda,” Belmonte said.

READ: LGUs, power co-ops urged to eliminate barriers to broadband connectivity

READ: CICC, CitizenWatch address Consumer Fraud 

Last July,  President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order 32  specifying streamlined requirements for digital infrastructure.

However, according to Belmonte, a Supreme Court ruling allows local governments to decide which industries or activities should they collect fees from, which becomes a challenge for companies to construct digital infrastructure.

“Basically, these give LGUs [local government units] the prerogative to decide which industries or activities to collect from. This is good in the sense of fiscal devolution, but not in the strategic area of digital infrastructure when so much more needs to be done.” Belmonte said.


He likewise added that the rationalization of fees would benefit LGUs and their constituents alike.

“Rationalizing all these fees will enable companies to allot more resources that would speed up the improvement and expansion of broadband services which would directly benefit the constituents and the local economy of all LGUs,” Belmonte said.

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TAGS: Christopher Belmonte, CitizenWatchh Philippines, digital infrastructure, telecommunications firms

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