Loko: Telikom invested in upgrading its network and people
Suspended CEO Peter Loko has refuted charges that Telikom PNG Ltd entered into illegal contracts and unauthorised payments totalling over K1 billion ($A400 million).
The executive took to social media last night to give his side of the story after Sir Mekere Morauta, the Minister for Public Enterprise in the government of parliament-elected Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, announced his suspension and the commissioning of an inquiry.
“One thing I can guarantee our people is that the money was put into good use. I thank the Telikom board for their foresight and support in allowing those investments to take place. All the investments over K1 million (or below) have the Telikom board’s endorsement and have also been sighted by IPBC (Independent Public Business Corporation). One of our board members was a member of the IPBC management team. 2012 will be the great year as far as opportunities go,” he posted in PNG Facebook discussion group Sharp Talk.
“So where has Telikom invested its money? Telikom has over the years invested considerably into upgrading its network and its people. It had to bite the bullet – short term pain for long term gain. This is evident from the various network projects and change management exercises that have been completed over the recent past, under the current board.”
Mr Loko has been replaced by acting CEO Charles Litau, a former Telikom employee who was at one time executive manager (international business), though concerns have already been raised about his political links. Mr Litau has not confirmed ties to the PNG Party, which Sir Mekere is a member of in the current term of parliament; however his profile on Linkedln states he was a former party treasurer.
According the Mr Loko, Telikom has invested heavily in a number of projects aimed at upgrading its network, and boosting the capacity of its employees in the face of stiff competition in the telecommunications sector. Some of these projects include:
- The replacement of the APNG cable with the APNG2 fibre optic cable in September 2006.
- The November 2008 sale of 50 per cent of its stake in mobile phone operator Bemobile to a consortium comprising Hong Kong-based GEMS, PNG’s Nambawan Supa, NASFUND and PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP).
- The establishment of a new terrestrial microwave radio link between Port Moresby, Lae, Kimbe and Kokopo in December 2008.
- The commissioning of the Intelligent Network (IN) billing system in 2009.
- The rolling out of Wimax, a 4th generation (4G) network, in Port Moresby, Lae, Madang, Kimbe and Kokopo.
- The commissioning of the company’s second internet gateway in Madang, to act as a backup for its Tiare gateway in Port Moresby.
- The installation of the latest version of VSAT-Dial Away IP, providing voice and internet services in areas lacking wireless.
- The launching of the company’s own ISP Telinet and the commissioning of its own mobile telephony service Citifon in PNG’s major towns.
While Sir Mekere was critical of the alleged failure by Mr Loko’s management to get the treasurer’s approval for contracts above K1 million, the suspended CEO said competition and Telikom’s nature of business compelled it to have quick access to funding.
“A company like Telikom, operating in a multi-million kina industry, cannot effectively compete, if the IPBC Act requires the organisation to obtain both IPBC and then the Minister of Treasury’s approval, for every expenditure above a million kina. From past experience this process sometimes takes almost 3 to 6 months, until final endorsement is given to spend money. If this process was quicker it would not be a problem.”