Tonga Cable Ltd

A TP$6 million contract payment agreement between Tonga and a New Zealand company to give the kingdom a “golden opportunity” to connect to a back up fibre internet cable has baffled government authorities.

The government believed the deal would not return any benefit to the country.

Tonga Cable Ltd paid US$2.4 million (TP$3 million) in July 2017 for the deal. The second TP$3 million was due in July 2018 but the government, which guaranteed the deal, has yet to pay it, a government spokesperson said.

He said the current Pohiva government was made aware of the details of the deal when Hawaiki wanted the settlement paid last year.

The TP$6 million deal, which was signed by former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni, was made as part of another TP$40 million (US$17 million) deal planned between the government and Hawaiki.

In that planned deal Hawaiki would allow Tonga to have a back up optic fibre internet through its international optic fibre cable which connected New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to Hawai’i and US.

The spokesperson said the government was concerned at the fact that TP$6 million  had been agreed to be paid to the Hawaiki just to secure an opportunity to connect to its submarine branching unit.

“The deal is baffling,” he said. 

Against World Bank advice

The World Bank has funded $50 million for Tonga’s high-speed internet cable which was launched in 2013.

Tonga asked the Bank to also fund a back up, or redundancy, cable but the Bank advised against it, saying it was not “financially viable.”

The government was advised that the main fibre cable and its back up should not be of the same type.

“It was a good advice because if there was plans to destroy the cable as happened recently, the vandals might could easily have destroyed the redundancy cable because they were in the same place,” the spokesperson said.

The best option was to have Tonga’s back up service through a sattelite connection. 

Clarification

The spokesperson wanted to clarify a report by Kaniva news last week about the deals.

As we reported, TCL Director Paula Piveni Piukala and Trade and Economic Development Minister Hon Tu’i Uata said they were in New Zealand to inquire about a TP$50 million contract agreement signed by the former government with the Hawaiki telecommunications company.

We reported according to an interview by Pacific Media Network on Radio 531 PI Tongan programme.

The spokesperson said he wanted to clarify that the TP$50 million contract Piukala and Hon. Uata were talking about included the total of the TP$6 million deal and the TP$40 million deal with Hawaiki, plus other fees.

Tonga had not paid TP$50 million to Hawaiki, he said.

“The agreement was for Tonga to pay TP$6 million to the company and that’s it. The Hawaiki won’t do anything for us,” the government spokeman said.

He said the only time Tonga would benefit from paying TP$6 million to Hawiki was if it used the back up cable. But Tonga must also pay the $40 million before it can connect to the Hawiki cable.

“But I can tell you Tonga does not have that much money and no developing partner is interested in funding that deal. They advised us against it,” he said

The main points

  • A TP$6 million contract payment agreement between Tonga and a New Zealand company to give the kingdom a “golden opportunity” to connect to a back up fibre internet cable has baffled government authorities.
  • The government believed the deal would not return any benefit to the country.

For more information

Tongan team in NZ to inquire after alleged “unrealistic” $50 million cable deal signed by former government

1 COMMENT

  1. ‘Oku fakatupu fifili ki he kau ma’umafai ‘i Tonga’ pe ne angafēfē hono fakamo’oni e alea $6 miliona mo e kautaha fetu’utaki Hawaiki ‘i Nu’u Sila ka e ‘oange ha “faingamālie” ma’a Tonga ‘e he kautaha ni ‘i he kaha’u’. ‘E ‘ikai fai ‘e he Hawaiki ia ha me’a ma’a Tonga osi ‘ene ma’u ‘a e $6 miliona’. Ko e fo’i me’a pe ‘e ma’u ‘e Tonga ko hono faingamālie he kaha’u ke hoko ‘ene keipolo lolotonga ki he keipolo fakava’apule’anga ‘a e Hawaiki ke hoko ia ko e keipolo talifaki na’a hoko ha maumau ‘i he kaha’u’. ‘E toki ngāue ‘a e Hawaiki ke hoko ‘a e keipolo ‘a Tonga’ ki he’ene keipolo’ ‘o kapau ‘e toe totongi ange ‘e Tonga ‘a e pa’anga Tonga ‘e $40 miliona pe $17 miliona ‘Amelika. Pea kapau ‘e ‘ikai ma’u ‘e Tonga ia ‘a e pa’anga $40 miliona ko ‘ene ‘osi ai pe ia ‘a e tila ko ‘eni’ pea mole ai pe ‘ene $6 miliona ‘ana’. Kuo pehē mei he pule’anga ia ‘e ‘ikai pe ma’u ‘e Tonga ia ‘a e $40 miliona ko ‘eni’ pea ‘oku ‘ikai ha tokoni mei muli ia kuo ne poupou’i ‘a e fo’i fakakaukau ko ‘eni. Pea ko e mole ai pe ‘a e $6 miliona ko ‘eni. Ne ‘osi ‘i ai ‘a e fale’i ‘a e Pangikē ‘a Māmani’ ‘o fakafepaki’i ha fakakaukau ‘ai keipolo talifaki peheni he ‘oku ‘ikai fakapotopoto ia ke fokotu’u fakataha ha keipolo oku lolotonga ngaue’aki fakataha mo hono talifaki ‘i he ‘uhinga ‘e lava pe ia ke na maumau fakataha tu’unga he’ena tu’u fakataha pe ‘i he feitu’u tatau pea ‘e ta’e’aonga leva e fakakaukau na’e fa’u ai ha keipolo talifaki. Ko e alea ‘eni ne fakamo’oni’i ia ‘e he Tokoni Palēmia ki mu’a’ Siaosi Sovaleni pea toki ‘ilo ki ai ‘a e kau ma’umafai ‘o e pule’anga lolotonga’’i he taimi ne ‘eke atu ai mei he Hawaiki he ta’u kuo ‘osi’ ke totongi mai ‘a e konga faka’osi ‘o e $6 miliona’. Na’e pehē foki ‘e he Kaniva’ ‘i he’ene lipooti hano faka’eke’eke ‘o e Talēkita ‘o e Keipolo Tonga Paula Piveni Piukala mo e Minisita Fefakatau’aki Tu’i Uata e he Letiō 531 a e Kakai Pasifiki he uike kuo osi ko e alea $50 miliona ‘eni mo e Hawaiki. Ka kuo pehē mei he pule’anga’ ko e ‘uhinga pe ia ki he tila ko ‘eni $40 miliona tānaki mo e tila $6 miliona fakataha mo e ngaahi totongi mekehe. Ka ne te’eki ai totongi ha $50 miliona ki he Hawaiki.

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