Deregulation talks set to begin next week

18 May 2007

Talks on compensation packages for Fijian telecoms operators that are set to lose their exclusive licences are due to begin next week, writes the Fiji Times, quoting a statement from Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Group (ATH) acting chief executive Tomasi Vakatora. Discussions on the process are scheduled to start on 24 May he said. ‘The Ministry of Communications is co-ordinating the discussions and so far there has been no indication of any change to this timetable. The discussions will be between government to be represented by the ministry with the involvement of possibly other ministries who have some interest in the matter and ATH and telecommunication operators who will be affected by the removal of exclusive licences,’ Mr Vakatora added.

According to the country’s interim Minister of Commerce, Taito Waradi, the telecoms market is to be opened up to competition ahead of the original seven-year period of exclusivity given to companies involved – FINTEL (international long-distance services), Telecom Fiji (domestic fixed line services) and Vodafone (mobile services) – and they will have to be compensated, as the contracts they signed with the government were legally binding. Fiji’s interim government has also approved plans for the formation of a new legal and regulatory framework as part of the telecoms sector reform.