Hotels cheating on phones

Friday March 26 1999

The Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation sets cost-effective tariffs for all services. These tariffs and the charging formulae are published annually in the telephone directory and other official public documents.

The same should apply to bureaux and tourist hotels countrywide. Hotels have been fleecing tourists and the government. They end up discouraging the visitors from making international telephone calls.

Is it fair that a telephone in a hotel room becomes a profit-generating amenity? KPTC bills hotels but they apply their own tariffs! It is not clear whether Value Added Tax is levied on this service.

It was an oversight to let hotels fleece tourists and deny the Kenya Revenue Authority its bit.

These unofficial charges should be addressed by tourism industry stakeholders and the KPTC, with a view to outlawing them. Liberalisation does not mean tax evasion.

It will be up to the tourism industry to justify those unpublished charges. And in the unlikely event of an impasse, KPTC will have a readily available international telephone service through the hotels.

The Home Country Direct Telephone Service should be rapidly extended to all countries. This is the international reversed telephone call service. The hotels may not charge for such (collect and credit card) calls.

All patriotic Kenyans are praying for the quick recovery of the tourism industry. The application of full KPTC approved tariffs and charging formulae would be one of the most effective and strategic incentives towards that end.

Let us not regulate the communications sector hesitantly. We must be strict, firm and fair, relentless and tenacious in approaching all these issues. This should be done without fear, favour or hindrance.

The telecommunications sector and the tourism industry must be harnessed for the national good.

Francis Kimeu Muthusi,