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Many governments wishing to provide telecommunication services to those who are unconnected have chosen the Universal Service Fund (USF) as the principal policy…
Many governments wishing to provide telecommunication services to those who are unconnected have chosen the Universal Service Fund (USF) as the principal policy instrument. However, there is evidence that monies directly or indirectly collected from users of telecommunication services are lying unspent in these funds. The purpose of this paper is to propose metrics for measuring the disbursement efficacy of funds across time and across countries as an essential element of improving the performance of the universal service funds.
This paper proposes two metrics, the total disbursement rate (TDR) and the year-on-year disbursement rate (YDR), which can be used to assess the disbursement efficacy of universal service programs. It illustrates the value of the metrics by applying them to the USFs of India, Malaysia and Pakistan.
A move to push out funds has been observed in India in recent years. Pakistan had not reached the same momentum up to mid-2014. An improvement in Malaysia’s disbursement efficacy was observed until 2013, with nearly all of the funds collected in the previous year being disbursed. A significant proportion of the funds collected are lying unspent in the three USFs, nevertheless.
The proposed metrics are robust, objective and parsimonious indicators that allow comparison over time and across countries. They will enable productive, evidence-based conversations that will hold fund administrators accountable and will inform the design and implementation of more effective policy mechanisms.