PAC queries expensive VSat charge

National, Normal

The National, Monday 20th May 2013


THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has directed Telikom PNG to justify why it is charging K1,200 per month on VSat customers in the rural areas. 

PAC chairman and Bogia MP John Hickey said the National Government, in 2006, allocated K30million to Telikom for the establishment of VSat services in the rural areas.

“Without any warning Telikom put it off and started charging K1,200 per month,” he told chief executive officer Charles Litau at the inquiry in Port Moresby last Friday.

“We want to know why you broke your community service obligation because it (VSat services) is centered on the forgotten people in the country.”

He said the move by Telikom had affected health, education, police and commercial development services that relied on VSat in the rural areas. 

Hickey said some government agencies had to stop using the VSat services because they could not afford 

the monthly bills. 

“All district rollouts were provided with a VSat. 

“The district treasuries aren’t operating anymore, rural hospitals cannot afford the rentals and many deaths could’ve been experienced as a result of lack of VSat services.”

Litau advised the committee that the decision to charge the customers on the usage of VSat services was done by the previous management. 

He assured the committee that he would find out and report to them in the next meeting. 

PAC member and Northern Governor Gary Juffa asked Litau to find out how much it cost to maintain the VSat equipment and if it was possible to factor the costing to the provincial governments budgets for the maintenance of the equipment. 

New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan told Litau that the company might have had financial problems and the only way was to unilaterally increase the rentals.