Attorney-General Fact Checks Qereqeretabua’s Inaccuracy

Ms Qereqeretabua also claimed that the Government did not allow for competition as there were only two mobile phone companies operating in the country.
19 Aug 2021 16:16
Attorney-General Fact Checks Qereqeretabua’s Inaccuracy
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament . Photo: Parliament of Fiji

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has replied with a fact checking response to statements made by National Federation Party Member of Parliament Lenora Qereqeretabua on Fiji’s internet connectivity and Telecommunication market.

Ms Qereqeretabua said in Parliament that the statement by the Attorney-General, that mobile connectivity in Fiji stands at 95 percent, where mere claims as mobile connectivity should not be confused with internet or social media connectivity.

In response Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said page 43 of the 2020 GSMA, the State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report stated that Fiji has achieved 3G and 4G coverage of more than 95 per cent.

“Therefore, it is not merely a claim as the Honourable Member made, because Fiji has in fact reached 95 per cent mobile internet connectivity coverage and again, if the Honourable Member had listened to my statement, she should have grasped this.”

Ms Qereqeretabua also claimed that the Government did not allow for competition as there were only two mobile phone companies operating in the country.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “We had stated on Monday, 16th August 2021, the Honourable Prime Minister had said, “let us deregulate the mobile telephone market in Fiji”. We deregulated it.

“Companies had 20-year exclusive licences that is how Digicel came in. She thinks that for a country of less than 900,000 people, all the mobile phone companies in the world want to come to Fiji; they do not. They look at the population numbers, they look at how much investment they have to make, to put up a tower, it costs half a million dollars just for one tower.”

Ms Qereqeretabua also assumed in Parliament that the $1.3million allocated to the COVID-19 helpline ‘158’ was given to Vodafone.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “This is the problem when people come to this Parliament with derisive and pugnacious attitudes, they get the facts wrong. Sir, 158 is not with Vodafone, it is with a company called Pacific Centrecom or Centrecom Fiji Pte Limited was engaged for this; so again, she is wrong.”

“Mr Speaker, Sir, the other point that I also want to make, just the fact to check her, she said that VitiKart, people do not necessarily need VitiKart but they need internet connectivity. To use VitiKart, one needs internet connectivity, so she does not know what she is talking about.”

Ms Qereqeretabua also questioned the minister responsible for social welfare to confirm whether the e-ticketing allocation for senior citizens has dropped from $10 a month to $3 a month.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “Mr Speaker, Sir, it is not. If she checked this kind of speculation, pensioners get $10 a month, they always have $10 at the beginning of the month, if they use $7 in a month, the following month it will be topped up by another $7 so to make sure they have $10 in the beginning of the month.”

For Walesi services, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Government has surpassed the commitment that every Fijian, no matter where they live, are to have meaningful access to Walesi services, whether it is the crystal-clear picture and increased content choices on free to air digital television.

He added they had made extraordinary progress with increasing Walesi’s coverage nationwide through terrestrial and satellite networks.




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