Icasa is split on how to go about collecting monies owed to it by companies which have been fined by the authority, the Sunday Times reported today (7 July 2013).
A number of companies and state departments, including the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Services (SAPS), owe Icasa a combined total of R501 million from spectrum usage and disputes.
However, according to the report, the regulator cannot make up its mind on whether to settle with companies that owe it money, or to pursue them for the full haul.
Sources within Icasa told the Sunday Times that “settling” with companies would be wrong, and would send a message that the regulator negotiated with illegal operators.
Additionally, if Icasa settles with entities owing millions – such as the SANDF’s R189-million tab – it would “infuriate” companies that pay the full amounts owed, the report said.
Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) previously told Icasa to “firm up and take charge in enforcing compliance from licensees”, saying the regulator was weak in capacity building and regulating general licence fees,according the report.
The uncertainty has led to slow resolution in a number of cases, including the SANDF and Vodacom disputes, as well as the ongoing case against WBS.iBurst.
According to the report, Icasa is still currently negotiating with WBS/iBurst over how much the latter owes to the regulator.
Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka told the paper that the two entities “are in dispute with how much they want to settle”.
“We’ve never said we don’t want to settle, and we have tried settling with WBS. But the problem was that there was a dispute about the amount: they said they owed R8-million, whilst we say they owe more than R60-million,” he said.
“So they wanted to settle an amount they believed they owed, and that’s why nothing happened.”
“We have always been open to any settlement as long as they pay what they say we owe,” Maleka told the paper.
Icasa is currently awaiting a court order/judgment on the case, which is expected at the end of July or early August, the report said.