PRIVATIZATION IN PNG MAY TAKE 10 YEARS: MICAH

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By Moresi Ruahma'a

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 13, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Privatization Commission chairman Ben Micah said yesterday the privatization of government entities may take up to 10 years to successfully complete.

He said the task of privatizing the government statutory bodies was not as easy as he had thought when he was first appointed to head the commission.

Mr. Micah added, "I think the main bulk of work will be done by the new government that comes in (after the 2002) election."

Admitting that whole exercise is complicated, he, however, said, "As we go through the exercise, we will address the problems."

Mr. Micah was speaking at a consultative meeting with managers of the various government statutory bodies earmarked for privatization.

At yesterday's meeting were representatives from Telikom, Post PNG, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the PNG Telecommunication Union.

The purpose of the meeting was for Mr. Micah to brief the officials on the status of the government's privatization program and to obtain feedback from them.

Other Government-owned enterprises earmarked for privatization are the Pacific Finance Group, Air Niugini, Elcom, the PNG Water Board and the Harbours Board.

Under the National Executive Council (NEC) policy time frame, first to go on sale would be Pacific Finance Group companies like the PNG Banking Corporation.

Apart from the initial sale of these companies, Mr. Micah said any other enterprise that is in a good position for sale would be disposed off immediately.

He also said that although the sale of the Pacific Finance Group is expected by the end of this year, followed by the actual completion of the exercise by the end of 2001, in reality there are many more things to be done.

These included determining the real value of the enterprise, the shareholding, and how to properly address the retrenchment exercise of employees in order to minimize problems.

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

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