4 Dec 2002

Fiji government faces $100m lawsuit in telco dispute

6:39 am on 4 December 2002

The Fiji government is facing a lawsuit for damages amounting to 100 million US dollars - the biggest in the country's history.

FIJI TV says the law suit has been planned by the cut price telecommunications company, TELPAC, and follows new legislation being planned by the director of telecommunications to close down its operations.

TELPAC's chief executive, Tim Gibbons, says the new regulations will violate Fiji's existing laws.

Mr Gibbons says after a prolonged period of operations without any problems, the government is trying to stop TELPAC's legal opeations through illegal means.

He says Fiji's current laws protect TELPAC's existence, pointing out that the Fair Trading Act has sections dealing with the misuse of market power such as so far enjoyed by the monopoly companies Telecom Fiji and FINTEL.

Mr Gibbons says FINTEL has been making 42-million US dollars a year since its legal exclusive licence came to an end four years ago.

He says FINTEL has been robbing the country when it could have cut its rates in half and that money could have gone back in the Fiji economy.