miércoles, 24 de abril de 2013

Rural mobile funds 'not being spent'

12 April 2013 Last updated at 10:40 GMT Indian villagers, part of a Self Help Group (SHG) organisation, pose with mobile phones and laptops in Bibinagar village Almost half of India's internet users access the web through their mobiles Funds set up to improve poor and rural access to mobile services worldwide are "inefficient and ineffective", according to a report.

More than $11bn (£7.2bn) has yet to be spent, according to the GSMA, which brings together global mobile operators, handset makers and internet providers. "Very few funds, if any, would appear to disburse all that they collect," it said.

Less than 12.5% of the funds are meeting their own targets.

Universal service funds (USF) are set up by levies on telecoms in individual countries, which are then used to increase consumer access based on criteria such as income distribution, rural and urban population ratios, literacy and geography.

But the GSMA report estimates that more than one-third of the 64 funds surveyed have yet to disburse any of the contributions they have collected.

"Our research shows that, despite the fact that there is an ever-increasing amount of money sitting unused in these funds, governments continue to collect still more from the mobile operators," said Tom Phillips, the chief regulatory officer at GSMA.

"The situation needs urgent government review and attention, as the money collected to date far exceeds the amount that is needed to ensure universal access."

Among the funds dubbed by the GSMA as "ineffective or severely constrained and/or legally challenged" are those set up in Brazil, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France and Italy.

The Indian USF, for example, contains more than $4bn in unspent money but still imposes a 5% levy on operator revenues.

The USFs in Afghanistan, Bolivia, South Africa and the US have been accused of "poor or inefficient administration" of the money, the global body said.

But the GSMA cited Colombia as an example of the way USFs should be structured, with a reduction in levies and a transparent public bidding process.

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