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By Harlyne Joku

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 5, 2000 – The National)---The PNG Electricity Commission has managed to continue providing vital power services to its customers despite the fact that its business application systems were not Y2K-compliant, general manager Sev Maso said yesterday.

Mr. Maso said the commission had made a submission for K 10.6 million (US$ 3.92 million) to the Government, to help purchase a fully integrated software system that would ensure efficiency of service and a smooth transition during the rollover period.

However, the Government did not provide all the funds. Instead, Mr. Maso said, the National Y2K Committee gave only K 273,000 (US$ 101,010) to Elcom in late December, leaving the Commission with little time to prepare its computer systems for the bug.

He said Elcom therefore had to fall back on its Y2K contingency plan and carry out most of its business applications systems-- including ledgers, billings and revenue systems -- manually. The manual system assisted in the transition. However, the result has been that operations have been slow, Mr. Maso said.

The Elcom EDP (electronic data processing) staff have switched off most of their main computers since the New Year, leaving just one terminal operating to run tests in order to determine which systems are working and which aren't.

Mr. Maso was responding to rumors that Elcom was affected by the Y2K related problems as of Monday, causing computer screen blackouts.

The National has learned that Elcom employees have been unable to switch in to their computer systems and have not able to get work done on computers after the New Year. There are also reports that Elcom sub-branches have been unable to print out statements and receipts.

Mr. Maso described the rumors as "careless and irresponsible." He assured the public that the Elcom power system was immune to the Y2K problem and that the power supply was not affected.

However, he said it was the business application systems that were not ready for the bug.

Mr. Maso said the business application systems involved ledger, billing, revenue and the internal payment systems, which had been switched off after the New Year as a precautionary measure. This had resulted in users being denied access to their systems, he added.

Mr. Maso said all key Elcom employees were aware of these measures, leading up to the rollover period from last year to January 1, 2000 and any reports coming from within Elcom suggesting that their system was affected by the bug are untrue.

Mr. Maso stressed that the commission needed further funding to ensure that all its systems were Y2K-compliant and that on January 14, a revised submission would be considered by the Elcom board and put before the Department of Finance (Treasury) for approval to help upgrade the system.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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