"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
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
PNG govt under fire
From THE NATIONAL Mon 16 Sep 2013 PORT MORESBY, PNG --- Concern was raised in Parliament last week over the haste in approving multi-million kina projects such as the PNG LNG project without careful evaluation of its benefits to the Government and people. The debate was sparked off by a ministerial statement on the petroleum and gas industry from Minister for Petroleum and Energy William Duma. Attorney-General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua said the Government would soon amend legislation to ensure that all resources were fully owned by the State. Kua said the State owned resources under the ground but that ownership was transferred to the developer or investor as soon as a development licence was issued. “The state should be owning the resources and not giving them away to investors,” he said. “This is a property shift and payment shift. We get nothing out of it and this is unacceptable and we must constitutionalise ownership because there is no provision confining state ownership. This must take place quickly and must be seen on the benefit we share.” There was concern by some MPs that the PNG LNG project was rushed and sold cheaply and urged the State to suspend all negotiations on new petroleum and gas projects. Minister for Commerce and Trade Richard Maru said the country would only receive K1.5 billion (US$610.8 million) in revenue from 2015 while the Government had incurred a lot of commitments. He said the Government had given away many fiscal incentives, leaving it with nothing, and should not rush into any more projects of such magnitude. “We should get far better package for our people. Let’s see the lesson learnt and make improvement in other (future) projects,” he said. Koroba Kopiago MP Philip Undialu said the state should not engage foreign consultants as it did in the PNG LNG project because their report would not be in the best interest of the State and the people. Goroka MP Biri Kimisopa said the PNG LNG agreement was presented to parliament so that every member had the opportunity to know its content such as the fiscal incentives in the agreements. “Time will only tell us if we have done the right thing,” he said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the future looks bright for Papua New Guinea and it is cause for celebration. “As we celebrate our 38 independence anniversary, there is cause to be optimistic about the future,” he said in his Independence Day message. “Although we have travelled far as a nation in 38 years, we have not travelled far enough. “Massive challenges lie ahead of us. We have a population that is growing rapidly. We have roads, air and sea ports, schools, hospitals, and barracks we must rebuild or expand. “But I believe that we have laid the foundations for change in the policies that we are implementing. “In 12 months, we have begun the work to rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and improve service delivery. Our economy continues to do well, and this growth will double when the LNG project starts exporting in the latter part of 2014.” He said state-owned assets would be restructured to give more financial security when the Kumul structure was approved by Parliament. “This re-aligning of our assets will unlock the potential that we know these assets are capable of delivering. “So, I can assure you all that the future looks bring for all of us, and there is reason to celebrate,” he said. “But let’s celebrate in peace, with respect for our neighbours, and in the true spirit of independence.”