Instead of announcing the establishment of a state-owned telecommunications operator, the Government should return Telekom to its ownership and receive compensation for all the revenues that the company has generated in recent years, says economic analyst Novak Svrkota.
On the other hand, telecommunications expert Predrag Boljević considers it a good idea to form a state mobile and landline operator. For that, he says, there is a good infrastructure. However, the question is how realistic it is that the Government, which is in a technical mandate and does not have the trust of the citizens and the parliament, announces millions of investments.
– And how realistic it is. Montenegro in its ownership, through economic entities whose founder is the government or the majority owner of which is the government, has the strongest infrastructure, far stronger than any operator in Montenegro. Regardless of the market position of those operators, the state, that is, its executive power, has a need to have its own system and thus reduce the enormous allocations it currently gives to certain operators for leasing certain services – said Boljević.
The state is only profitable in those branches in which it has a monopoly, says Svrkota, such as the energy sector where we have Elektroprivreda (EPCG).
– So I don’t see any state-owned company that is successful in a sector where it doesn’t have a monopoly. I don’t see how that telecommunications company would be able to survive in such a small market – Svrkota added.
Svrkota explains that the Government has the right to return the Telekom company to its ownership, instead of investing tens of millions in a new company.
– And to receive compensation for all the income that the company made all these years. That is one option, much easier than if we form a new company. By returning Telekom to state ownership, we would get both the existing workforce and an entire integrated system – Svrkota said.
The Interlocutors of Gradska agree on the potential of the infrastructure, but they also state that most of it is used by private operators.
– The Montenegrin Electric Transmission System (CGES), which has the strongest infrastructure as far as the backbone of the system is concerned, the Montenegrin Electric Distribution System (CEDIS), which has access infrastructure to the end user. There is also ŽTO, which has a strong infrastructure along the railway. I also emphasize the regional water supply system that has an optical infrastructure, that’s all that we defined in that project back in 2014 – says Boljević.
Svrkota points out that this infrastructure is also used by current operators.
– These are all the cables that are placed on the poles for electricity, city lighting, connections go through them. In that sense, it is one of the positive things that could be realized – adds Svrkota.
Boljević also explains how the state operator could offer better internet in all parts of the country.
– I will highlight our border crossings where you wait a very long time for your passport to be loaded. The problems are very bad connections and very low speeds towards those crossings where the operators have no interest in expanding it, and the state would have no interest in bringing it to the level it should be – concludes Boljević.
However, everything should be carefully considered, says Svrkota.
– We should not rush if we rushed in the past with some decisions. We are selling the Budva Riviera, and we are establishing a new Telekom. This is done by the Government, which is in a technical mandate, which should cover only some current needs, which can hardly make such major decisions without the support of the Parliament – Svrkota added.
To begin with, as announced at the last Government session, a working group of six employees from CEDIS, CGES and Elektoprivreda was formed. Their obligation Is to list the infrastructure of those companies needed for the flow of Internet and mobile data, as well as to estimate the amount of investment.