By JEFFREY ELAPA
PANGU Party leader Sam Basil has been named Finance Minister to replace James Marape who resigned last week but is yet to formally communicate his decision to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Basil’s former portfolio of Communications and Information Technology has been taken over by fellow party member and Markham MP Koni Iguan, who is joining Cabinet for the first time.
Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa takes on the added responsibility of Leader of Government Business which Marape also held.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Marape resigned almost a week ago (when O’Neill was out of Port Moresby) but he had not received any formal notice from Marape of his resignation.
O’Neill said, however, he had decommissioned Marape as a State Minister, in compliance with his request to resign from Cabinet.
He said the Governor-General as the head of state had been informed of that decision to revoke the appointment of Marape as minister, thus allowing the appointment of a replacement.
Marape, the Tari-Pori MP, was contacted yesterday for a comment but did not respond.
The appointment of Basil and Iguan brings to three the Pangu Party MPs in Cabinet. The other is Goilala MP William Samb, who is looking after Bougainville Affairs.
There are 15 party MPs in the coalition government, making it the second biggest party there after the People’s National Congress.
Iguan’s swearing-in ceremony yesterday at Government House was attended by Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament from the Government ranks.
Basil will continue to look after Kumul Petroleum and Kumul Mining.
O’Neill said the Energy portfolio Basil also held would go back to re-join the petroleum department which will once again be known as the Department of Petroleum and Energy.
Its minister is Fabian Pok, the North-Waghi MP.
Kiriwina-Goodenough MP Tomuriesa, as the new Leader of Government Business, will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running of parliamentary affairs for the Government, O’Neill said.
Tomuriesa is expected to announce when Parliament resumes next month the appointment of Rigo MP Lekwa Gure, another Pangu Party member, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, taking over from Iguan.
By JEFFREY ELAPA