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Consumers at the mercy of Telkom

23 November 2001
TELKOM'S decision to implement an average 5,5% tariff hike for services without the approval of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has raised questions about the ability of "regulators" to effectively police parastatals as they are privatised.

Apart from ensuring that state monopolies do not abuse their position, regulatory bodies are government's defence against the charge that privatisation will leave consumers of basic services at the mercy of the market.

The government has sought to appoint or strengthen regulators in several sectors, but the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) argues that the regulators lack the power to balance consumer and commercial interests.

Telkom's latest tariff hikes - of up to 24% for certain domestic calls, due to kick in next January - seem to strengthen Cosatu's case.

The previous rates regime lapsed in May last year, and draft regulations submitted by Icasa were rejected by Minister of Post, Telecommun ...

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