Opposition quizzes PM over bemobile funds

National, Normal

OPPOSITION leader Sir Mekere Morauta has raised allegations that GEMS Ltd has used US$15 million (K44 million) of bemobile funds to pay for a Solomon Islands mobile licence.
Sir Mekere raised this during Question Time in Parliament in a series of questions to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.
“Are you aware that GEMS Ltd has unilaterally used US$15 million of bemobile funds to pay for a Solomon Islands mobile licence?”
He said these funds had been contributed by bemobile shareholders to fund a specific capital works programme for bemobile in PNG.
Sir Mekere said the US$15 million was paid without the knowledge or authorisation of the board of bemobile, or other shareholders.
bemobile is 50% owned by Telikom, Gems holds 35%, PNGSDP, Nambawan Super and Nasfund each own 5%. GEMS, as well as holding 35%, are the managers of bemobile.
“What action is Telikom as the majority shareholder, together with other shareholders, taking against GEMS for breach of shareholders agreement?
“Does Telikom intend to remove GEMS as managers of bemobile?”
“Given that the payment of the money for the Solomon Islands licence was made without proper authorisation, is it recoverable? Will it be recovered?
“What now is the fate of the planned capital works programme for bemobile in PNG, given that US$15 million contributed by the shareholders has been paid to the Solomon Islands?
“Who will now fund bemobile’s capital works programme, given that other shareholders will be very wary of putting money in the way of GEMS, the managers?
“If bemobile does not have sufficient capital to fund the upgrade and expansion of infrastructure in PNG, how will it fund the roll-out of the capital works programme required to establish a mobile network in the Solomon Islands?”
Prime Minister Sir Michael asked that the questions be put on notice for him to answer properly.