Comment to withhold payment ‘false’

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The National, Monday October 21st, 2013

 THE PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd has questioned Ok Tedi Mining Ltd’s comment denying that Prime Minister had instructed the company’s board to withhold payment of the 2012 dividend to PNGSDP.

“The statement is false on two counts,” PNGSDP chairman Sir Mekere Morauta said.

“The Prime Minister himself stated to journalists that he had instructed OTML not to declare and pay the dividend. 

“He is quoted as saying: ‘I put a stop to that declaration. We have stopped the declaration of dividends so that when we take over, it will not be broke’.

“Secondly, the Prime Minister instructed Government representatives responsible for OTML not to pay the dividend.

“Therefore OTML’s statements could not be further from the truth.”

Sir Mekere said the PM’s instructions to OTML not to pay the 2012 dividend, due this year, were merely one example of gross political interference in the independent management of the company.

He said comments by OTML that it could not afford to pay the dividend were untrue as well.

“The managing director of OTML, Nigel Parker, wrote to PNGSDP in December 2012 advising that OTML was committed to declaring and paying US$350 million in dividends in 2013 and 2014,” Sir Mekere said.