Nepal’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has heard the concerns of the Internet Service Providers and has agreed to recommend them for foreign exchange. The new development has been arrived upon after ISPAN (Internet Service Providers of Nepal) warned that internet service across the nation could be disrupted because they were unable to pay their bills to the upstream providers in India.
ISPs in Nepal owe about NRS 3.5 billion to Indian upstream providers – and had themselves received a warning that services could be cut off if the bills weren’t cleared on time.
Nepal’s MoCIT had ceased recommending foreign exchange facility to ISPs since six months asking them to clear their arrears with the government before availing foreign exchange. ISPs in return maintain that the Public Accounts Committee of the Federal Parliament and the Supreme Court in two separate decisions have asked the government not to collect the dues as it was exempted by the telecommunication bylaws.
MoCIT however insists that the decision covers only 2017/18 and that the companies should clear their dues incurred in the later years.
To avert a nationwide internet supply disruption, officials of MoCIT including Communication and Information Technology Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki and ISPAN representatives held a dialogue on Monday. The meeting decided to recommend foreign exchange reserves to ISPs.
The decision is also said to be influenced by the Election Commission’s directive to address the issue so as the upcoming local level polls would not be affected.