8 Nov 2004

PNG Telikom sale queried by Catholic Bishops

4:26 pm on 8 November 2004

Papua New Guinea's Catholic Church wants the Government to clear the air on the alleged "underhand dealings" in the sale of Telikom PNG to African company Econet Wireless Limited.

The Port Moresby Catholic Archbishop Sir Brian Barnes says Econet has been involved in legal problems in other countries it operates in and reports show it is a small company without adequate funds.

The Post Courier newspaper reports that Sir Brian has joined a long list of critics concerned that the proposed sale is an underselling of Telikom.

His comments come on the tail of the arrest and charging of the directors of Econet Wireless by Zimbabwean authorities for failing to remit revenue raised through its mobile phone services and for seeking funds on the black market.

The money was reportedly deposited in offshore accounts.

But Econet officials said yesterday that observers needed to understand the politics in Zimbabwe to understand what had really happened.

Econet is the most preferred buyer of Telikom PNG but the sale decision is yet to be made by the National Executive Council.