TELIKOM DENIES PNG HARDWOOD SALES LINK WITH CHINA

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 29, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Telikom has denied that it is involved in a deal to sell Papua New Guinea hardwoods to China to pay for its share in a multi-million kina fiber-optic cable project to connect Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The Australian Financial Review reported last week that Telikom was involved in exploratory talks with Cable & Wireless Optus and cable layer Alcatel for the AUS$ 75 million (K 114.4 million/US$ 43 million) fiber-optic cable project linking the two countries.

The report said Telikom, which would pay half of the cost, was broke and that the PNG Government would sell the country's hardwood logs to the People's Republic of China to pay for Telikom's participation in the project.

"Telikom currently has an undersea cable which is jointly owned by Telikom and Telstra of Australia," said Telikom's acting managing director Sunil Andradi. "This cable is reaching its economical life span of 25 years by next year."

"Telikom is currently investigating options for replacement of this cable. No tender has been released so far and we are only at the stage of looking at options," he said

Question: Is it true that Telikom is to pay half of the AUS$ 75 million (US$ 43 million) cost of the project, but cannot meet its obligation because it is broke?

Answer: "The cost estimate of AUS$ 75 million is not an estimate made by Telikom. Telikom is not broke and during the last five years Telikom has engaged in projects worth more than K 100 million (US$ 37.7 million)."

Question. Is it true that Telikom is involved in discussions for the government to sell PNG hardwood logs to China in order for Telikom to participate in the project?

Answer: "Not true."

Question: Has Telikom ever been in discussion with Cable& Wireless Optus and Alcatel about this project?

Answer: "Yes, we have had discussions with the above two groups and many other parties. This is a normal process in obtaining the best option for project implementation. Telikom has had two to three difficult years. At present we are on a recovery path."

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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