PETALING JAYA: It is now too late to remove Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) from the country’s 5G rollout plan, says former second finance minister Johari Ghani.
The Titiwangsa MP said that would have been possible had DNB not been set up in the first place.
“But it was not properly deliberated. The company has been set up with people employed and the government committing a certain amount of money to the technology supply,” he was quoted as saying by online news site Twenty Two 13 today.
Starting all over again would incur “unnecessary costs and commitments,” he said.
Johari said the monopoly would have been acceptable if DNB was the only entity capable of getting the job done and if there was a need for the government to be in control.
However, in this case, the government could have used one of its own entities, such as Telekom Malaysia (TM), he said.
“TM is a listed company. It is subject to proper scrutiny, by the public and investors. That’s the reason why I was not keen on DNB in its current form.”
Government-owned DNB was appointed to build and manage the 5G network infrastructure and is the wholesale provider of 5G services to mobile network operators.
The company has come under criticism due to its purported monopoly on 5G services.
It has also faced challenges in recruiting network operators to roll out the infrastructure.
Johari acknowledged that some monopolies were beneficial even if they disrupted the ecosystem in which they operate.
Citing Tenaga Nasional Bhd as an example, he said that although a monopoly, the energy company is capable of meeting all the nation’s energy requirements.
“The government can control that monopoly by not allowing the company to increase (electricity) tariffs,” he said.
Likewise, the government can use its control of the spectrum to ensure that DNB’s 5G rollout is beneficial to the nation, said Johari.