In a face-to-face debate with officials from Telecom Regulatory Authority of Afghanistan (ATRA) and representatives of telecommunication companies in Kabul on Monday, residents of various provinces of the country accused the companies of “embezzling” peoples’ money while providing poor services to their customers.
The “Where is ATRA?” debate was held after a wide range of criticism by social media users from around the country against the telecom regularity authority.
Attendees of the debate said ATRA has failed to monitor the activities of telecommunication companies.
They complained that employees of telecommunication companies are not treating their customers in a civilized way and that the internet services and the process of the 10 percent tax on telecom users is not transparent.
“I represented Badakhshan residents in this debate. They had invited telecom services to provide satisfactory answers to the public to ensure that they will not embezzle their customers’ money but the answers were not satisfactory,” said Atiq Raghistani, a Badakhshan resident.
“Now you can activate 6GB internet package with the money which you could activate an 8GB package in the past. The prices of call packages have also gone up,” said Mirwais Arya, a Kabul resident.
Head of ATRA, Najib Azizi, in an address to the event, said people have the right to criticize poor services of the telecom companies.
He pledged to take into consideration the issues raised at the debate.
“Ads and packages are one of the key issues... We completely understand this problem. From technical perspective, the telecom companies have had some progress regarding the settlement of the problems. One of the good points is that the telecom companies have pledged that they will no longer ask for reconfirmation from customers while they ask for a service,” Azizi explained.
An official of Roshan Telecom Company said they have stopped some services which were not satisfactory to the people.
“Value Added Services or VAS are services like Islamic Services, Sports portal and others which we stopped in February and then integrated them through the Double Authentication system so customers can only activate these services when they confirm twice,” said Shafi Sharifi, Director of Public Relations and Corporate Affairs at Roshan.
The debate, however, ended without any tangible result, according to its attendants.
The Afghan government imposed 10 percent levy on telecom services in 2015. Findings show that billions of Afghanis have been collected in the last three years, but the tax is still collected through a paper-based system.