WHY IS PNG GOVERNMENT PROTECTING TELECOM MONOPOLY?

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Aug. 2) - The conduct of the Government in the mobile telephone debate is a total disgrace and a national shame. Papua New Guineans are asking why the Government is so scared of competition in the telecommunications industry.

The public is at a loss as to why the Government is so protective of Telikom [when] the national telecommunications carrier has demonstrated it is inefficient and incapable of providing the level of service that customers are demanding. Competition in the industry will bring great benefits to the customers who have long suffered under the monopoly of Telikom.

Industry is also concerned about the change of heart of the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare who first welcomed new carrier Digicel and then changed his tune in Kokopo this week, saying Digicel is operating outside of the Government’s policies. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. It has already sent signals to the international investors to be wary of Papua New Guinea if they are ever going to be planning to come here and invest their money. Investors will be wary of the possibility that the Government might suddenly change its policies and stop them from investing in PNG.

In the short time since Digicel launched its mobile telephone service, Telikom responded with its own improved services to customers. What is wrong with that? That is what competition does for the consumer. The entry of Digicel has suddenly forced Telikom to lift its own game to stop its customers from moving away to Digicel. The Government should welcome this competition and encourage it. It is healthy for the industry and both Digicel and Telikom can benefit from it. Above all, customers will enjoy a much improved service. That is the ultimate goal of competition.

When customers are happy and enjoying an efficient, cost-effective service, the industry itself also benefits.

Papua New Guineans are tired of monopolies. They are demanding competition.

Once the monopoly in telecommunications is broken down, the next monopoly to go should be the airline industry. If Telikom can pay dividends to the Government, so too can competitors in the industry through company tax, personal income tax and other taxes. In fact competition will make Telikom more efficient and its profits will soar, resulting in more dividends to the Government. So why fear competition?

It’s time to throw monopoly out of the window and embrace competition for the good of the thousands of customers all over PNG.

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