09 February 2005

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GRTU to put its case on HP computer offer to minister on 17 February
By Julian Manduca

The GRTU will meet Information Technology Minister Austin Gatt 17 February, to make its case following the offer made by computer giants HP to assist the ministry in its aim to connect three quarter of Maltese households to the internet by the end of next year.
The GRTU Vice-President Marcel Mizzi and member of its IT section said it “will argue that the ministry’s plans should not further affect the business of those the GRTU represents”.
The section is already upset that the Ministry’s initiative has affected the computer market with sales figures crashing, and it now expects the domination of the market by HP.
The union is especially worried that small business that assemble computers without a big brand name and provide a good service will be most affected.
On its part the Ministry has claimed that the low prices of the HP computers should not affect other suppliers because the Ministry’s scheme is aimed at people who would not buy a computer at all, if it were not for the offer.
The Ministry argued that the deals being negotiated would benefit the sector as a whole and told this newspaper: “There are no initiatives which may harm traders but rather to the contrary they are one of the groups to gain the most out of this since the increased use of technologies will create a long-term demand for ICT products and services.”
The GRTU, however, has countered by pointing out that the HP prices are very close to those of other suppliers and that people have stopped buying computers in anticipation of the HP offer.
The GRTU contends the government should not interfere in any way that will distort the market and has taken its case to the Office for Fair Competition.

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