CEO of Digicel PNG, Colin Stone, has highlighted that Digicel PNG achieved its market position through sizeable investment of over US$1 Billion in infrastructure across all of PNG’s 89 Districts since launching in 2007. ‘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. ‘It appears to us that the Proposed Levy is an attempt to undermine the nation’s progress in this regard. It will have profound and irreversible impacts to the people of Papua New Guinea that we serve especially in rural areas where the need is most.’
Digicel has explained that the proposed levy is effectively targeting a single industry player and a foreign business – one which has shown a firm commitment to PNG. ‘It is extremely disappointing there has been no consultation process on this tax/levy with Digicel’. Stone added that any implementation of the proposed Levy would inevitably have a flow-on effect on pricing, which will make services more costly and less affordable, particularly those in rural areas, many of which are only served by Digicel. ‘This levy, as discriminatory as it is, would also reduce money available for investment in new infrastructure, technology and services and it would severely limit Digicel’s ability to continue to provide services in uneconomic, rural and remote areas of PNG. It will increase future risk by discouraging further investment in PNG by other international investors’.
Digicel PNG had earmarked improvements to 60 schools nationwide through the Digicel Foundation, increasing 4G population coverage from 63% to 82% through 140 new towers and upgrades to 200 towers and increased rural financial inclusion with the expansion of CellMoni services; banking the un-banked in PNG. ‘The proposed Levy will affect Digicel’s investment in these and other projects including the possible increase in prices across Papua New Guinea” said Stone.