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Pre-qualification criteria for selecting 3rd telco player ‘weak’ —Dominguez

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Saturday said the proposed process and criteria for the selection of the third major telecommunications player is weak and cannot ensure that the new entrant is capable of competing with giants PLDT and Globe.

"I’ve expressed my concerns on the proposed process as I find the pre-qualification criteria as being weak, and I think that scoring should not be based on ‘commitments'," Dominguez said in a statement.

"You know, the beauty contest in the past resulted [in] frequency hoarding and those companies failed to improve service. They just made money by flipping assets government owns. I don’t want that to happen again," the Finance chief added.

The Finance chief was referring to the “Committed Level of Service” as the main criteria in the selection of the third player.

The Department of Information and Communications Techonolgy issued Memorandum Order No. 002, dated April 13, which amended Memorandum Order No. 001 or the “Policy Guidelines for the Entry of a New Major Player in the Public Telecommunications Market.”

“The applicant with the highest committed level of service and/or highest committed investment for the last five years shall be the new major player. This is without prejudice to the formulation of a new selection criteria or modification thereof by the NTC, in consultation with the DICT and the Oversight Committee created under Administrative Order No.11,” the order read.

Dominguez said this criteria fails to set up parameters that will ensure that the third telco has the capability, both financial and technical, to compete in the long term.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. earlier said that the oversight committee to facilitate the entry of the third telco is considering to impose a higher minimum paid-up capital for companies aspiring to be the third telco player.

On April 6, President Duterte created an oversight committee to facilitate the entry of the third telco and assist the NTC in the formulation of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the selection and assignment of radio frequencies of the third telco player.

The committee is composed of representatives from the DICT, the Department of Finance, the Office of the Executive Secretary, and the National Security Adviser. The DICT representative will be the chairperson, with the DOF representative as vice-chairperson.

Dominguez said that on the DOF’s end, they are currently evaluating what pre-qualification criteria, like financial and previous telco experience, can be applied to improve the selection of the third player.

“Government should not forget what the task at hand is. The mandate of the President was not only to bring in a third telco player, but more importantly, to ensure that its entry will result to rendering of better services to the consumers at the lowest possible cost," the Finance chief said.

As to when the criteria will be approved, he said that “we hope to be done with this task by Friday next week.” — MDM, GMA News