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TRAI mandates refund of overcharged amount reduces audit compliance burden too

Telecom regulator TRAI has reduced audit compliance of licensed service areas to once in year from four times earlier but it will cover maximum tariff offerings, including related to international roaming, according to the new regulations on quality of service.

The new regulations on Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulations, 2023, dated September 11, 2023, will result in reduction of audit burden by almost 75 per cent and enhance Ease of Doing Business (EODB), TRAI said in a release on Wednesday.

“Each LSA shall be audited only once in a financial year unlike four times as per old regulations, thereby reducing the audit burden by almost 75 per cent,” TRAI said.

However, while simplifying the audit process, it is also ensured to cover maximum tariff offerings under audit unlike in previous regulation which has the provision for audit of 15 most popular tariff offerings only leaving aside a good number of tariff offerings with less number of subscriptions, the regulator said.

“The new regulation shall now cover critical tariff offerings like related to international roaming, even with low subscriber base,” TRAI said.

The new regulations lead to the repealing of amendments issued in 2013 – then known as Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulation, 2006, and its amendments issued on 25th March 2013.

The new regulations also mandate on refund of maximum overcharged amount to customers in a definite time frame and introduce Financial Disincentive (FD) as percentage of total overcharged amount from all similarly placed consumers, if detected during the audit.

TRAI said it has also deleted provisions of self-evaluation for auditors, enhancing the time limit to 30 days for providing the raw CDRs to the auditor from 15 days proposed in the draft regulations, graded financial disincentives and modification in retention period for audit records for smooth compliance of regulatory provisions and to facilitate ease of doing business.

TRAI mentioned that it has ensured a balance between two key objectives of protecting the interests of the subscribers by ensuring that service providers maintain fairness and transparency in their Metering and Billing System and reducing compliance burden on the service provider to enhance Ease of Doing Business (EODB).

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