By SHIRLEY MAULUDU
DIGICEL PNG says a proposed Government levy which will affect the telecommunications company “is wholly discriminatory” and will have profound and irreversible impacts” on the people.
Digicel PNG chief executive officer Colin Stone said the proposed levy expected to be included in the 2022 national budget would impact the company’s future investment in PNG and “most certainly deter other companies from investing”.
“Digicel’s market position is as a result of the significant investment made since (it) entered the market in 2007,” he said. “We have invested heavily every year since, with a total investment to date of over US$1billion (about K3.45billion).
“Every single one of PNG’s 89 districts has been touched by Digicel, and we are proud of our enviable record of connecting more Papua New Guineans with each other, and the world, than any other operator in the market.”
Stone said any such levy would:
- HAVE a flow-on impact on pricing, which would make services more costly for people particularly in rural and remote areas;
- REDUCE the amount of money available for investment in new infrastructure, technologies and services;
- SEVERELY limit Digicel’s ability to continue to provide services in uneconomic rural and remote areas of Papua New Guinea; and,
- INCREASE future risk thereby discouraging further investment in PNG by other international investors.
“The proposed levy is targeted at an overseas investor and a single industry player, one who has a firm and demonstrable commitment to PNG,” he said.
“It is extremely disappointing there has been no consultation.”
He said Digicel was planning to:
- FUND improvements to more than 60 schools nationwide through the Digicel Foundation;
- INCREASE the 4G population coverage from 63 per cent to 82 per cent with 140 new towers and upgrades to a further 200 towers;
- EXPAND threefold rural 4G users by over 500,000 subscribers with subsidised handsets; and,
- INCREASE rural financial inclusion with expansion of the CellMoni service across the country focused on banking the unbanked.