ICCC News

The ICCC welcomes the Government’s recent decision to extend the deadline for SIM card registration by another two and a half months to July 31.

ICCC Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Paulus Ain said that the ICCC was encouraged by the fact that the Government and the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and Energy, Hon. Sam Basil share the same concerns that consumers in the rural and remote parts of PNG would have been adversely affected because they, for some valid reasons, may have not been able to register their SIM cards to date.

Commissioner Ain said: “The ICCC understands that registration of SIM Cards still require people to personally appear and present identification documents in order to register/purchase a SIM card. The majority of Papua New Guineans live in villages in far and remote places to nearby towns, and a significant number of our people do not have basic identification documentation like birth certificates, National Identification Cards, Passports, drivers licenses, school ID cards or other acceptable forms of identification. However, these same people have utilized and benefited from the advancement of telecommunications in their locality through the use of mobile phones.”

“We also welcome Minister Basil’s call for all telecommunications service providers Digicel PNG Limited, BeMobile-Vodafone and Telikom PNG Limited to comply and undertake this SIM cad registration and to work with NICTA and the PNG Council of Churches in this process.” Commissioner Ain said.

“The ICCC supports this call and maintains the view that these operators have a commercial incentive to act; including a moral obligation not to leave anyone behind from the SIM card registration exercise.”

“Given the new deadline for registration of SIM cards the ICCC is also urging consumers in rural PNG to contact their mobile service providers to find out how they can register their SIM cards at a location nearest to them; and to show up at designated registration locations.”

Commissioner Ain has assured that the ICCC will continue to meet with NICTA, the telecommunications service providers, and the Department of Information and Communication to support their efforts where necessary to ensure consumers with mobile phones in rural PNG are provided an opportunity to conveniently have their SIM cards registered.

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) held a media conference today to provide information and clarify certain misconceptions by certain parties regarding the ICCC and ICCC’s economic regulation of the Electricity Industry.

ICCC Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Paulus Ain said it was critical that any misrepresentation of facts and misconceptions of the regulation of the Electricity Supply Industry in PNG are corrected and assured all concerned clients and consumers that the implementation of economic regulation has remained effective and sound, relevant even when the electricity industry was having challenges.

Commissioner Ain said one of the major misconceptions is the tariffs applied by PNG Power Limited (PPL).

Commissioner Ain said: “The electricity supply industry in PNG is a vertically integrated monopoly. In 2011, the Government developed the Electricity Industry Policy (EIP) which recommended for competition in the generation sector of the electricity industry. This allowed Independent Power Producers (IPP) to compete with PPL however because PPL has an exclusive rights within 10kms radius of its transmission network, most of the IPPs had to enter into Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with PPL to supply power for general consumption.”

Commissioner Ain added that since 2011, there are eight licensed electricity undertakers including PPL operating in the country. Of these, five are IPPs generating and supplying power to PPL. These IPPs are; ExxonMobil PNG Limited, Posco Daewoo Limited, PNG Forest Products Limited and New Britain Palm Oil Limited and Daewoo PNG Power Limited.

“During the Regulatory Contract Review undertaken by the ICCC in 2012, the findings recommended tariff increases for PPL to have PPL met its cost of operation, investment, perform competitively in the market and deliver better services to the people of PNG. These tariffs were to take effect in 2013.” Commissioner Ain said.

“The Government however made a decision in 2013 to stop PPL from increasing the electricity tariff. This decision to freeze the tariff increase has been in effect since the second quarter of 2013. PPL still has the prerogative to request the Government to rescind its decision if it feels that the tariff freeze is burdening PPL’s financial performance.”

In 2015, a mid-term review of PPL’s Regulatory Contract revealed that most of the capital projects that were planned for implementation by 2015 were not achieved. Further review of the Industry by the ICCC in 2017 also showed that PPL was yet to implemented most of its capital projects allowed for under the 2013 to 2017 Regulatory Contract.

In light of the Government’s decision to freeze tariff increase since 2013, PPL was unable to charge electricity services on cost reflective basis subsequently PPL was not able make reasonable returns to implement the planned projects.

Third Party Access (TPA) Codes and Grid Codes are administered by ICCC and basically provide guidance to power producers in terms of pricing and technical aspect of the commercial arrangements are competitive, least-cost reflective and ensure international best practice.

Commissioner Ain said that despite of set-backs from the tariff-freeze issue, the regulatory framework overseen by the ICCC through the use of TPA Codes, Regulatory Contract and Licences, amongst others have remained fruitful with the introduction of competition within the generation segment of the electricity industry.

“The ICCC has ensured that the economic regulation of the industry remained relevant and in-tuned with the prevailing market conditions. Hence the economic regulation of PPL and Electricity industry has been implemented effectively.”

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (“ICCC”) is concerned about the large number of people in the rural and remote parts of Papua New Guinea who have yet to register their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.

ICCC Commissioner and CEO, Paulus Ain is concerned that the mobile network companies Digicel PNG Limited (Digicel PNG), Telikom Limited (Telikom) and BEmobile limited (Bemobile) are yet to register a substantial number SIM cards users).

ICCC has already had initial meetings with Digicel PNG and the National Information & Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) for an update on the status of the SIM card registration deadline which was initially scheduled for April 30th.

Commissioner Ain said: “I am concerned about the large number of consumers particularly in the rural and remote parts of PNG who will have their SIM cards deactivated. If their SIM cards get deactivated, how will they be able to have access to telecommunication services, electronic banking services, health service, including other essential services”. 

Since July of 2016, NICTA, with support from the Government, has been carrying out awareness to mobile service providers and consumers about the mandatory SIM card registration in the country. The ICCC has been monitoring the progress of this exercise and its concern is for the consumers not only in the major centers throughout the country but those that particularly live in rural and remote areas will be adversely affected because they, through no fault of their own, may have not been able to register their SIM cards to date.

Therefore, the ICCC is urging consumers to contact their mobile service providers to find out how they can register their SIM cards and urges NICTA, Telikom, Bmobile and Digicel to work together to decrease the number of unregistered SIM card especially in the rural areas and if possible further extend on the mandatory SIM card registration exercise by 3-6 months.

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (“ICCC”) has welcomed the ruling in the National Court against PNG Mainport Liner Services Limited, Steamships Trading Company Limited, Steamships Limited, Kambang Holdings Limited (Kambang) and Consort Express Lines Limited (Consort).

On 10th November 2011, the ICCC filed court proceedings against PNG Mainport Liner Services Limited, Steamships Trading Company Limited, Steamships Limited, Kambang and Consort after an investigation carried out by ICCC into the acquisition of the shares of Kambang in Consort by Mainport, concluded that the acquisition  was anti-competitive and detrimental of the public.

ICCC Commissioner and CEO, Paulus Ain said that the ICCC through its lawyers defended the motion and made submissions that the ICCC did have a substantive cause of action in bringing proceedings and that the cause of action was for a breach of Section 69 of the ICCC Act.

“A ruling on the motion was outstanding for 5 years and 6 months but after relentless follow-ups by the ICCC, a ruling was handed down on 27th March 2018.” Commissioner Ain said.

In summary, the ruling was made in favour of the ICCC in the following terms:

  1.     The parties’ concerning the acquisition  motion to dismiss the case instituted by the ICCC is refused.
  2.    The ICCC is granted leave to file its Statement of Claim within 21 days from the date of this order.
  3.     The parties concerning the acquisition  are required to file their Defence 21 days from the date they are served with the  Statement of Claim by the ICCC.
  4.    The ICCC shall list this matter for directions on the next available date in June 2018.
  5.    All parties bear their costs of the application.

Mainport, up to the time of the acquisition, was a subsidiary of Steamships Limited. On 12th November, 2009, Mainport entered into a share acquisition agreement (acquisition) with Kambang to acquire 17.6% of the 33.3% shares that Kambang held in Consort.

Prior to the acquisition, Kambang held 33.3% shares in Consort, Steamships Trading Company Limited held 33.3% shares in Consort and Anton Lee Transport Limited held the remaining 33.3% shares, comprising the total shares issued in and forming the issued capital of Consort.

On 31st August, 2009, before Mainport acquired the 17.6% shares from Kambang, Mainport was amalgamated into Steamships and legally ceased to exist.

By acquiring the 17.6% shares from Kambang (through its subsidiary Mainport) Steamships had the majority shareholding interest in Consort at 50.9%. Steamships had effectively gained control over its largest competitor Consort, across both the PNG coastal shipping services and the PNG stevedoring and handling services industry.

The ICCC formed the view that the three main markets affected by this acquisition were the coastal shipping services market, stevedoring and handling services market, and the wharfage market. Under these three main markets, 33 sub-markets were identified as being affected by the acquisition.

Commissioner Ain said that in accordance with the court ruling that was handed down on 27th March, 2018 the ICCC has filed its Statement of Claim within the 21 days from the date of this order and will list this matter for directions on the next available date in June 2018.

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (“ICCC”) announces the new retail fuel prices for this month which will take effect on Sunday, 8th April, 2018.

According to the ICCC’s calculations, retail fuel prices for petrol, diesel and kerosene will increase throughout PNG as of 8th April, 2018. The price increases for petrol and diesel are attributed to the increases in their respective Import Parity Prices (IPP) whilst the IPP for kerosene decreases for this month. The fluctuation in the IPP are attributed to the fluctuation in the Mean of Platts Singapore (“MOPS”) prices for petrol, diesel and kerosene which is linked to the crude oil prices during the month of March, 2018.

The domestic retail fuel price for petrol, diesel and kerosene is inclusive of the IPP, domestic sea and road freight rates for the second quarter of 2018, the 2018 wholesale and retail margins for petrol, diesel and kerosene; including excise duty for petrol and diesel, and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

As a result of adding all the various cost components mentioned above, the maximum retail prices for fuel in Port Moresby are as follows:

 

Port Moresby Retail Prices (toea per litre)

 

Petrol (tpl)

Diesel (tpl)

Kerosene (tpl)

Retail Prices as of 8th April, 2018

351.61

 

316.68

 

291.05

 

Retail Prices as of 8th March, 2018

347.67

312.13

289.60

Price Variance (+/-) toea per litre

+3.94

+4.55

+1.45

 

For the month of April, the maximum retail fuel price for each fuel product in the country will increase on average as follows:

 

  • Petrol prices will increase by 3.49 toea per litre;
  • Diesel prices will increase by 3.85 toea per litre; and
  • Kerosene prices will increase by 0.51 toea per litre.

Retail prices in all other designated centres will change according to their approved in-country shipping and road freight rates (for the second quarter of 2018) that are charged by the fuel distributors.

As part of the ICCC’s enforcement and compliance of fuel prices, its Investigation Officers will conduct inspections at all service stations on Monday, 9th April, 2018, to ensure prices of petroleum products do not exceed the allowable maximum prices. The following ICCC officers will conduct compliance inspections in Lae, Goroka, Kokopo and Port Moresby. Inspections in other provinces will be supported by our contacts in those provinces. Please note:

  • Mr. Christopher Gabesoa, Mr. Seri Tau Vali and Mr. Bill Boiu will conduct compliance inspections to all service stations in the National Capital District. They can be reached on telephone number 325 2144;
  • Mr. Johnny Anderson, Ms. Pamela Ipambonj and Mr. Timothy Ponau will conduct compliance inspections in Lae. They can be reached on telephone number 472 2859;
  • Mr. Bobby Tei, Roman Rosting and Mrs. Dorcas Baining Julai will conduct compliance inspections in Kokopo, Rabaul, Kerevat, Warangoi and Toma. They can be reached on telephone number 982 9711; and
  • Mr. Kevin Kondo, Mr. Banmu Olivi and Mr. Jeffery Khar will conduct compliance inspections in Goroka, Kainantu, Kundiawa and Mt. Hagen. They can be reached on telephone number 532 1077.

The prices set by the ICCC are the indicative maximum retail prices, for which retailers may choose to sell below the maximum price. Again, the ICCC would like to remind retailers who sell fuel using pumps to set fuel prices to one decimal place while the ICCC will continue to set the maximum price to 2 decimal places.

No fuel pump operator should charge above the Indicative Retail Price for this month’s price regardless of the number of decimals. This is to ensure compliance with the Prices Regulation Act under which the maximum prices of refined petroleum products are set. Retailers who are displaying prices to 1 decimal place are urged by the ICCC to round the prices down to ensure prices are within the allowable indicative retail prices. The ICCC Inspectors will continue to conduct spot checks after 8thApril, 2018 to ensure on-going compliance by fuel operators.

Consumers are advised to report any instances of overcharging by retailers through the ICCC’s Consumer Protection Division on 325 2144, on toll free number: 180 3333 or by contacting our Regional Offices closest to you on the numbers provided above.