PT&T takes regulators to court over fees

By Emmie Abadilla 

The Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) has petitioned the Court of Appeals to review the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)’s decision ordering the company to pay an "erroneous amount" of Supervision and Regulation Fees (SRF) of P443.8 million for the last 15 years, from 2002 TO 2017.

PT&T (C) PT&T (Photo courtesy of / MANILA BULLETIN)

The company already paid P20.57 million Spectrum Users Fee (SUF) to NTC from 2003 to 2018 and the uncontested P10.27 million SRF for 2018, according to James Velasquez, president, and chief executive of PT&T.

"While PT&T is required to pay an annual SRF, the amount PT&T is being required to pay under the September 28, 2018 Decision of the NTC is erroneous for it was computed by the NTC based on the wrong paid-up capital of PT&T,” he stated.

Telecom and broadcast companies pay an SRF of P0.50 for every P100 of paid capital.

However, PT&T argued that NTC exceeded its jurisdiction in assessing the telco’s SRF because the “Serial Redeemable Preferred Shares” represented the liabilities of the company, not its equity and NTC should not have included PT&T’s liabilities subject to debt-equity conversion.

The telco also ceased its local exchange carrier (LEC) operations in 2008, so it has no operation subject to NTC supervision and regulation, among other issues.

"We already filed a petition before the Court of Appeals contesting only the amount used as basis to compute the fees," Velasquez maintained.

"Any amount or fees owed, once cleared up, is an amount the company wishes to settle going forward."

This should also clear up an impediment for PT&T's bid to be the country's new major telco player.

Based on the terms of reference, which the NTC issued, interested participants shall have no uncontested outstanding liabilities such as SRF and SUF, other penalties, surcharges and interests to the agency.