Staff at Papua New Guinea’s Telikom PNG have staged a stop work protest in response to the revelation that the country’s state-owned telecoms companies are to be consolidated. According to EMTV Online, following a decision (No 360 of 2016) by the National Executive Council (NEC) to merge Telikom, bmobile and PNG DataCo, a nine-page petition has been presented to government officials callings for the plans to be halted. Nug Mamtirin, National President of the PNG Communication Workers Union, was cited as saying he believed there were flaws in the NEC’s decision, with the petition raising several issues, including the appointment of Mahesh Patel as the chairman of the board for the combined entity, and John Mangos as CEO.
Earlier this week Papua New Guinea’s acting minister for public investment and state enterprises, Charles Abel, confirmed that the three-way merger was to be undertaken as part of the ‘Kumul Consolidation Agenda’ – the process under which the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), a statutory corporation that holds a number of state-owned enterprises, is being transformed into Kumul Consolidated Holdings Limited. The merged entity is expected to continue operating under the Telikom banner, in a move designed to improve coordination and efficiencies across management and infrastructure, while creating a stronger, vertically-integrated company. ‘As a government we want accessible and cheap internet and mobile services to our citizens and businesses. This requires a strong and effective Telikom to deliver backbone infrastructure and to provide the necessary competitive tension in the market place … I want to assure our good employees that this is a constructive exercise to strengthen our government companies, and ask for a unified effort from all,’ Mr Abel is quoted as saying.