Government role in ICT must be clear

The National Research Institute (NRI) is calling on the Government to clearly state its role in the ICT sector.

The call made by NRI Director, Dr Charles Yala, follows the launching of the NRI’s latest report ‘Why are internet rates high in Papua New Guinea?’

“What is the role of the government? A player? A referee? A facilitator or a bit of each?” asks Dr Yala.

“Providing a clear answer to these set of questions will make the work of the regulators easy to define and for the businesses to be clear on their investment opportunities.

He added “to date I must state that the position of the PNG government in the PNG economy remains ambiguous and subject to many interpretations.”

The report follows a study carried out Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu to get views from stakeholders in the ICT sector to find out the factors for high internet rates.

Deliotte Manager, Todd McInnes, says the government is involved in the ICT sector as a wholesale player and retailer.

In the wholesale market there are two government players in Telikom PNG and PNG DataCo issuing their own independent infrastructure solutions, which McInnis says is not a sustainable solution

However, in the retail market three government owned entities are competing against each other as well as others.

“It’s important that looking forward, the retail market is the direct retail provision of internet services. To me it doesn’t seem like there’s a clear role for the government in that regard,” says McInnes.

“The role of the government is in regulation.”

McInnes says if the Government regulates the wholesale price, among regulatory reforms against factors causing high Internet rates, it would see a reduction in Internet costs

Cedric Patjole