I am least surprised that the second mobile license has been awarded to Bemobile. Bemobile is a PNG company and if you analyse the circumstances surrounding the decision diligently, one should not be surprised.
For years PNG has been providing million dollars of aid money to Solomon Islands. The majority of our students studying in PNG higher institutions are funded from aid money provided by the PNG givernment. This has been going on for years. Recently the PNG government also funded the Solomon Island chancery in Port Moresby with the cost running into millions of dollars. The PNG government has also been provided millions of dollars of direct aid to the SIG over a number of years. My wantoks, do you think that PNG would be providing its hard earned dollars for zero gain. No, as any one knows, the PNG government also wants to earn a return from the aid it provides to our country. It does not have to be direct payment from Solomon Islands (I doubt if Solomons has the funds to do so anyway!) but it expects easy access for its companies to operate in our economy. I believe this has now eventuated with a number of PNG companies now operating in the Solomon Island economy and many more to follow in the future. The funds they earn from our economy will be 3 to 4 times the aid money they have spend on our students (tied aid) and the millions that were paid directly into government coffers.
The danger for the Solomon Islands government is that its interest will be comprised when it comes to making critical decision - as in the case of the awarding of the second license to Bemobile. It or its cohorts ability to make rationale decisions has been compromised to the extend that decisions will no longer be made on the ability or capcity of the company to provide a services as againts its rivals but rather on the fact that its government has previously scratched the SIG's backside! In this instance the The Evaluation Committee was a mere instrument for the SIG to make known its decision. The bottomline is that their decision was influenced politically. The scenario is that political probing from Moresby occured months before Bemobile made its bid and during the period that the Committee was deliberating. At the end of the Moresby line the voice kept reminding our politicians about the untold millions of dollars that their government had spend on Solomon Islands and its people over the years. At the Solomon Island end the response was an assurance that the bid is theirs. If the Solomon Islands' government allow itself to be influenced by PNG aid money in such situation, it will only lead to decisions which are in the interest of PNG and not Solomon Islands.
Second License to Bemobile
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Charlie Kieu and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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