16 Jul 2004

PNG opposition calls on government to halt Telikom sale

5:19 pm on 16 July 2004

Papua New Guinea's opposition has called on the government to halt the sale of the country's main telecommunications provider, Telikom PNG.

Opposition leader Peter O'Neill says the sale of this vital asset has been rushed without proper discussion in parliament, and that proper tender processes were not followed.

Zimbabwe-based company Econet is set to pay the PNG government 50 million US dollars for a 51 percent stake in Telikom PNG.

But Mr O'Neill says that the deal will cost many jobs and will be detrimental to the telecommunications service PNG people recieve.

"The buyer is a mobile service distributor and therefore we don't believe it is going to bring added value to the existing Telikom operation in the country and lastly Telikom has been operating in a very profitable manner over the past few years."

Peter O'Neill says another area of concern over Econet is that it has court cases pending over its operations in Kenya and Nigeria, and he claims it owes millions of dollars to the Maori Spectrum Trust in New Zealand.