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PT&T appeals ‘erroneous’ fee imposed by NTC

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By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

PHILIPPINE Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (PT&T) has filed a petition with the Court of Appeals (CA), questioning the “erroneous” and “inaccurate” amount of supervision and regulation fee (SRF) imposed on the company by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

“While PTT is required to pay an annual SRF, the amount PT&T is being required to pay under the 28 September 2018 Decision of the NTC is inaccurate for the same was computed by the NTC based on its erroneous assumption of PT&T’s paid-up capital,” the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange on Monday.

In a Sept. 28 decision, the NTC asked the company to pay a total SRF of P444 million — broken down as P330 million for the period from 2002 to 2015; and P114 million from 2016 to 2017.

The NTC said SRF for the 2002 to 2015 period was based on PT&T’s paid-in capital of P8.712 billion, as computed in a resolution it released on March 31, 2017.

Although it acknowledged that PT&T’s annual reports showed the additional paid-in capital is P2.054 billion, the NTC said it cannot overturn its own decision because the company failed to file an appeal within 15 days from its issuance.

“For (PT&T)’s failure to contest the computation within the time allowed, the Commission deems the basis and resulting computation of (PT&T)’s SRF from 2002 as final and binding,” it said.

Last Feb. 28, PT&T filed an appeal with the NTC to recompute the SRF, almost a year after the resolution was released.

As for the SRF from 2016 to 2017, the NTC said this was based on PT&T’s paid-in capital of P10.766 billion, as indicated in its March 31, 2017 decision.

In a mobile message to BusinessWorld, NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios said: “We stand by our assessment but we will respect the resolution of the courts on the matter.”

PT&T is one of the companies vying for the third telco player slot being auctioned off by the government.

The selection terms for the third player required that participants have no outstanding liability with the NTC as of Oct. 1.

Asked how the latest NTC decision will affect the company’s intentions of joining the bidding, PT&T chief executive officer James G. Velasquez said it should be of no concern, as the restriction is limited to uncontested liabilities. He noted PT&T is fully paid on this aspect.

“As the fee amount in this particular instance is contested, it does not prevent us from bidding as planned,” he told BusinessWorld.

In a statement, Mr. Velasquez said the company has already paid the NTC its uncontested P10.27 million SRF for 2018, and the P20.57 million for its spectrum users fee from 2003 to 2018.

The government plans to name the third telco player by December. The deadline of submission of bids is on Nov. 5.