PNG GOVERNMENT OWES $21 MILLION IN PHONE BILLS

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By John Dau

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 19) - Papua New Guinea government agencies still owe Telikom PNG about K70 million (US$21.7 million) in outstanding telephone bills, it was revealed yesterday during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing in Parliament.

But details of the outstanding bills could not be made known after Telikom managing director Martin Veisame’s attempted explanation was cut short by PAC chairman John Hickey.

But it is understood the amount is the total of outstanding bills government departments and agencies have been unable to pay since Telikom was set up.

Mr Veisami told the inquiry the private sector did not have any outstanding bills like what the government owes Telikom.

Mr Veisami could not explain the nature of the outstanding bills as PAC chairman Mr Hickey told him they were not interested in that.

Meanwhile, Mr Hickey queried Telikom’s management as to who was representing them in the legal battle against Yama Security Services and the Ace Guard Dog over alleged breach of contract.

Mr Hickey asked Telikom officials to confirm if Gadens Lawyers were engaged to defend claims by Yama Security Services for K6.2 million and Ace Guard Dog for K4.5 million.

Telikom company secrtary Greg Manda said they issued directives for a general withdrawal of all legal firms from performing litigation as a cost cutting measure.

Mr Manda said at that time, Telikom was spending K1 million on legal fees alone so the board made the decision for economic reasons.

However, he said Gadens went to Independent Public Business Corporation who instructed the Telikom Board to allow Gadens to continue representing Telikom on the Yama Security Services case only.

February 20, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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