Telecom NZ has entered into a conditional agreement to sell its 60 per cent shareholding to Digicel for $23 million.
Those shares have to be advertised in the Cook Islands for 30 days and the deadline is this Saturday.
Tavioni has created a proposal to get Cook Islanders to invest $1000 each for an equal share in TCI, and has been collecting signatures.
He said 30 days is not enough time for locals to unite and make a serious expression of interest.
“When you’re talking about millions of dollars, 30 days is too short. It’s a substantial amount of money and it’s a major national asset, so should be given at least three months to come up with the money.”
Tavioni met with Terry Rangi, head of the Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB), on Monday and asked him to extend the time limit.
“I told him, your duty is to safeguard the assets of the country. I asked Terry to call the Board and get them to meet and put a halt on the sale until after the July 9 election.”
Rangi agreed that locals should have been given more time to make an offer but said it would be unprofessional of the BTIB to extend the time limit now.
“I don’t think it’s prudent to shift the goal posts. We should have come out from the outset and required 90 days.”
He said the reason BTIB asked TNZ to advertise for only 30 days is because it was “following the current rules without really thinking it through”.
“Digicel and Telecom have been talking for a couple of years. We’re giving Cook Islanders 30 days. You have to give them as much time as possible.”
Initially, Tavioni was proposing to go after the Government’s 40 per cent share of TCI – which is not currently for sale - but has now shifted his focus to Telecom NZ’s 60 per cent stake.
He claims to have received about 800 signatures and expressions of interest from Cook Islanders, both at home and abroad.
He said he knows locals working in senior positions in overseas telecommunications companies who could come home and steer the ship.