Sovereign puts wealth back on agenda


The Constitutional and Law Reform Commission says wealth distribution in PNG should be seriously looked into.
Secretary Dr Eric Kwa told the 2017 PNG Update Forum at the University of PNG yesterday that there were talks on trying to get the Sovereign wealth fund up and running for almost six years.
“You begin to wonder why it has not been running or established,” Kwa said.
“We got overtaken by what they call the Kumul Consolidated agenda, and it is basically the restructuring of State-Owned Enterprises in the mining and energy sector.”
“By rearranging the SOEs, it really overtook our work on the Sovereign wealth fund, but the government has not lost sight of it.”
Dr  Kwa said laws were already in place.
“Can we get it going so that we are able to deliver in trying to manage revenues from the extractive industries?”
On the issue of natural resources, ownership and benefit-sharing, Dr  Kwa said the commission was aware that people wanted to own their minerals.
“The commission has now put up a proposal that we must return ownership of minerals to our people,” he said.
He said the issue of ownership should not be a concern for government.
“The management, participation and legalisation of that resource should be the main function of the government because it is the regulator.”
Dr Kwa says the benefit-distribution structure should change, giving equitable shares to landowners, local level governments, provincial and national governments and the developer.”
“Because the developer doesn’t own the resource, it merely expends its money.
“The commission is asking for a paradigm shift in terms of the debate on natural resource ownership,” Dr Kwa said.

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