By Meriba Tulo – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Communications Minister, Sam Basil, has announced another extension to the SIM card registration exercise. This time, Tuesday July 31st is the new deadline for when all sim cards must be registered; the previous deadline had lapsed on April 30th.
According to Minister Basil, after careful consideration he has made a decision to extend the deadline. He has also reiterated that failure to complete SIM registration will see telcos slapped with hefty penalty fees.
In December, the deadline for the mandatory SIM card registration exercise was extended to January 23, 2018. But on the eve of this deadline, it was extended again to April 30th. Since April, several court cases were initiated by aggrieved parties challenging the validity of the registration exercise, and subsequent sim deactivation exercise.
Minister for Communications, Information Technology and Energy, Sam Basil, this afternoon announced a further extension to the SIM registration exercise.
According to the Minister, his decision is based largely on concerns raised by the PNG Council of Churches over the lack of support shown by mobile telcos to assist in their efforts to support this exercise. The decision to extend the deadline yet again was a result from concerns raised by several sections of the community, and particularly the PNG Council of Churches over the lack of action taken to register many users, especially in rural areas.
According to NICTA, the telecommunication industry regulator, with this new deadline, they are confident more mobile phone users can be able to have their SIM cards registered, particularly in rural areas, utilising the reach of churches. The announcement today also provided an opportunity for two of the three mobile telcos to reaffirm their commitment to the SIM registration exercise.
With this latest extension, it would have been two years since, when NICTA first commenced the exercise for the compulsory registration for SIM cards in the country, something which according to the authorities, has taken too long to complete.