Cheap SIM cards come down to luck of the draw

Long-awaited cheap SIM cards to be released on April 24 will be sold through a “lucky draw” in Yangon – a system some say will facilitate corruption.

Yangon has been allocated 119,000 of the 350,000 CDMA SIM cards that the Union Government has promised to sell to the public each month.

Of its allotment, 30,000 will be sold to civil servants, the Yangon Region Government says, with the remainder allocated to townships based on population and how many SIM cards had previously been distributed to the townships.
Hlaing Tharyar has received the largest allocation, with 6600 cards, while Dagon Seikkan township, which has a small population and a high proportion of SIM card ownership, will get just 50.

“When we worked out how to distribute the SIM cards, we looked at the township population and the amount of SIM cards that Myanma Posts and Telecommunication had already sold there. We have already ordered staff to make sure there is no corruption,” a Yangon Region Government official said.

In a number of townships, the lucky draw was conducted shortly after Myanmar New Year on April 17.
“In our ward, we had to submit an application to enter the lucky draw with a copy of our National Registration Card and household list on April 17,” said Ma Shwe Yee from North Dagon’s No 47 ward.

“Only one person from each family could enter. On April 18, we had to go to the ward administrative office to watch the lucky draw. I won so I have to go to the administrative office on April 24 with four photos and K1500 to buy the SIM card.”

She said that about 45 people came on April 18 but only 15 won SIM cards. “I think this quarter administrative office is fair and transparent,” she said.

But not all were happy with the process. “I gave marks to the government when I first heard the SIM card announcement,” said retired teacher U Tun Naing, 68. “However the system that they use to sell them is bad. The administrative officers could do any kind of corruption. I don’t have any belief in this system. The system actually encourages corruption.”

Media reports said that residents in North Dagon’s No 40 ward have filed a complaint to the township general administration department, alleging that their ward administrator rigged the lucky draw to ensure his relatives were selected.

In other areas, the lucky draw will take place on the day the SIM cards are released.
“In our quarter, we can submit an application to the ward administrative office before April 24 and they will make the lucky draw on that day. I have submitted mine,” said Ma Nyein from FMI Housing in Hlaing Tharyar township.
The sale of CDMA 800MHz cards on April 24 was announced in early April following months of speculation.
The government says it plans to sell GSM 2.75 and WCDMA 3G cards from next month, with details to be announced soon in state-owned media.

The sale is part of President U Thein Sein’s plan to increase the number of mobile users to 8 million in 2013-14 and 18 million the following year.

Source: Myanmar Times

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