Loko hits back at Abe

Business, Normal

The National, Friday 21st September 2012

FORMER Telikom chief executive officer Peter Loko said the “illegal” loan taken by Telikom was sanctioned and approved by Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) three years ago.
He said IPBC owed Telikom K118 million, dating back to March last year, when a contract was signed for the sale of Telikom’s remaining 50% share in bemobile. 
Loko was responding to claims by IPBC managing director Thomas Abe that Telikom had been borrowing illegally.
“The ‘illegal’ loan that IPBC is harping about is the same loan that IPBC sanctioned and approved to help recapitalise Telikom and invest in a fibre (optic) cable that everyone is now enjoying,” he said.
“Even Telikom’s mobile competitors are using it.
“It was IPBC that appointed a financial adviser to build that case for Telikom about three years ago.
The three banks appointed one bank to lead the consortium to deal with this loan.
“It all comes down to the technicality on Section 46 of the IPBC Act.
“I want IPBC to clearly state if fraud was involved if not I would ask you to stop talking about this loan, which you were involved in.   
“IPBC must give a balanced view and give all facts not just the ‘convenient’ facts.
“It must also give all the facts to the minister (Ben Micah).
“This assassination of character cannot carry on forever.”
Loko said that in any case, Telikom’s debt to equity ratio was 27%, which was quite low compared to a company like Telstra with 210%.
“We had a lot of room to move,” he said.
“We had to replace the network; otherwise, today Telikom would be in a far worse situation.
“Under this loan, Telikom is able to install the fibre optics cable between Madang, Guam and Sydney.
“The then minister for public enterprises (Sir Mekere Morauta) proudly launched the connection from Lae to Madang connecting this section of the network to the PIPE cable in July this year.
“This would have never happened without the loan.
“In addition, the infrastructure installed under this loan will form the basis of Netcore’s core network.
“Without it, the new structure that the government is pushing for, that is, separation of a retail and wholesale business, will never be ready to cater for it.”
Regarding the contact for sale of bemobile, Loko said that had already been breached.
“It (IPBC) has already breached this contract,” he said.
“That amount is 18 months overdue.
“If IPBC paid these monies, it would certainly help Telikom implement its programme.
“If the shareholders expect Telikom to compete without investing in its network, then we are heading for disaster.”