14 Jun 2004

Telpac CEO says Telecom Fiji's pricing is choking economy

7:19 am on 14 June 2004

The Chief Executive of a US-based company providing international calls in and out of Fiji, says Telecom Fiji's pricing is so out of control it is choking the economy.

The comments by Telpac's Tim Gibbons come after a report from a senior academic who says Pacific governments are locking their countries away from the benefits available from low cost telecommunications by allowing monopolies.

Professor Ron Duncan of the University of the south Pacific says low cost telecommunications are not available in many Pacific countries but could and should be.

Mr Gibbons says part of the problem is that the stock value of Telecom Fiji Ltd is artificially high, after the Fiji National Provident Fund bought the Government's share of the company in 1996.

"With the predicament they've gotten themselves into now is that if they mark to market the true value of telecommunications the stock is going to plummet so severely that the FNPF fund is going to lose millions upon millions of dollars because it was severely over-valued when they bought it and if you mark to market, it's going to take such a huge loss that it's political suicide."

Telpac's Chief Executive Tim Gibbons

Telecom Fiji says it is hampered by high costs connected to servicing outlying areas..but is aware of a need to follow international trends and supply low cost services.