Samoa’s Minister of Communications calling on Bluesky employees to put your faith in God

Assures them, ATH has said no one will lose his/ her job
joyetter@samoanews.com

Apia, SAMOA — Samoa’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i is calling on current Blue Sky Samoa employees “to put your faith in the hands of God, not in the hands of people at Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH). At the same time he made it clear that the word from ATH is that no one would lose his or her job. Bluesky employees are unsure whether to resign, stay on or look for another job since the public announcement of the sale of Bluesky in Samoa and American Samoa.

During an interview at his office this week, Afamasaga told Samoa News ATH officials were in Samoa last week in terms of obtaining their license to operate in Samoa and made it clear that no one will lose their job. He said this concern was raised during their meeting.

“The concern raised with them is the jobs of the current employees and the word is no one will lose their job.” According to Afamasaga they have made it known to ATH their concerns regarding employment however “ATH says that unless somebody walks out or resigns they are happy to keep everyone working. “

Also there will be more exchange in employment capacity amongst the Bluesky offices in the Pacific, such as Fiji and other countries he did not name, according to Afamasaga. He also noted that the future of Bluesky is really up to the Bluesky board — “it’s really their decision.”

He said to obtain their license to operate in Samoa, “…all of that is going through the Regulator Office.” Regarding the sale of Bluesky, the Minister said, “To us this is just a business transaction and it doesn’t matter to us who comes to run Bluesky as we have set government objectives to meet.

“At the end of the day what we look for is affordable and reliable connectivity for us. We encourage competition and if these new owners come in and create competition that will really impact on the prices, it doesn’t matter to us. We have our own arm of government that monitors and really does the check and balance, analyze where the new owners come in, and can they (ATH) meet the local requirements in terms of investment.

“If they do, we have no problem,” Afamasaga said, adding they couldn’t stop them unreasonably because of any other reasons.

“We have the regulator office that does that part for the government, we also have the foreign investments office that looks at foreign companies, but the government’s position is we welcome good competition that impacts directly on the prices.”

One aspect that Afamasaga is looking forward to is increasing their share with ATH to be more than 25% of the shares they currently own.

“Through our unit trust of Samoa, we own 25% of the company and we would like to increase our shareholding through UTOS and ATH representatives who visited made it clear to us that we can increase our stake in the company,” he said.

Asked for a comment on the sacking of Aoe’e Adolfo Montenegro, the long-time chief executive of Bluesky in American Samoa, by the head of the parent company, Amper SA, Afamasaga said he did not want to speculate, noting that all he’s heard were rumors as nothing official came to them.

“All we heard was that Adolfo was offered the opportunity to work, but he opted out and that’s the story we’re getting. To me, I don’t know whether it’s true but it’s not really our business — it’s between him and the new owners, but I have known him for some time and really acknowledge his contribution to Bluesky Samoa and also growing the company.”

Afamasaga made it clear that although the Samoa Government owns 25% of the company “it’s really not our problem, it’s not our business and we really can’t stop anything like that. The future of the company is in their hands and they have a board of directors, where decisions are made.”

Asked of his knowledge on the status of ongoing negotiations, the Minister said they are not privileged to that information, but during the visit from ATH last week, they were informed that ATH is still putting together their submissions to the government for a business license and operations in Samoa.

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