No hikes in local call rates, says Paulwell
DESPITE the imposition of a tax on the termination of calls locally and from overseas, Telecommunications Minister Phillip Paulwell says it is not likely to result in higher call rates for Jamaicans.
"Domestic rates will still be lower once the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) moves in the way they have indicated," Paulwell said.
Last Thursday, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips announced the imposition of J30 cents per minute on domestic calls and US75 cents on international calls.
Paulwell told The Gleaner yesterday that the cost for people to call Jamaica from overseas would remain the same if the OUR reduces termination rates to levels that have been discussed.
In the case of domestic calls, Paulwell said the cost for telephone calls would be lower if the OUR orders the massive reduction of termination rates.
He conceded that "the domestic calls will not be low as they would have been without the taxation".
When Parliament passed amendments to an interim Telecommunications Act last month, Paulwell said Jamaicans would have seen massive reductions in call rates.
But yesterday Audley Shaw, the opposition spokesman on finance, said the additional taxes represent increased burden on Jamaican telephone users. In addition to the 30 cents per minute tax for calls to terminate on other networks, Jamaicans currently pay 25 per cent general consumption tax to make phone calls.