"We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others".

- Papua New Guinea National Goals and Directive Principles

Friday, 29 October 2010

Environment Act Amendment has Destabilised PNG's Investment Environment

According to D&B's (a major US ratings agency)  Country Riskline Report (November 2010) the Environment Act amendment has distabilised PNG's investment environment: 

"In May, the PNG government amended part of the country's Environment and Conservation Act 2000 to give the director of the Office of Environment and Conservation the authority to approve any investments with a potential environmental impact, such that its decisions "may not be challenged or reviewed in any court or tribunal, except at the instigation of an Authorisation Instrument". Aimed at streamlining the investment approvals process, this has proved unpopular with PNG's traditional landowners, whose long-held rights to sue for compensation for environmental damage have effectively been removed. Indeed, no sooner had work on begun on the initial construction of the country's largest planned Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline than protests by local groups forced a walk-out by workers.
Clearly, the government's legal authority to grant approval for resource extraction projects without the consensus of local residents will be continually challenged on the ground. Complicating the situation, several affected landowners have stated that they support the LNG project, and that demonstrators are actually from other areas. Moreover, a former senior Cabinet member who recently defected to the opposition, Belden Namah, has publicly stated his belief that the LNG project will not be realised due to the government's failure to address landowner complaints correctly. Although D&B believes that the present protests are more of an attempt to win a pay-off from the government and/or the LNG pipeline developers than an outright effort to block the project, recent events still underline the high degree of political risk that will continue to hamper the progress of inward investment in PNG".

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