Enough workers for LNG project

Letters, Normal

I WOULD like to respond to David Tibu’s comment as reported in The National (“No takers for 7,000 gas jobs”, Nov 5).
I read this with great dismay over his ignorance for many challenges facing our skilled or professional workforce.
I also condemn the manner in which he attributed the cause of recent “citizen protest” against Asian-owned businesses to school leavers.
It was insensitive for a senior departmental head to make such generalised comments against our own young people who have been “flushed out” of the education system to fend for themselves on the streets.
Such comments are not only an insult to the intelligence of our school leavers but also to their hardworking parents whose only dream is for their children to have better future.
It is grossly misleading for a departmental head like him to publicly state that the recent citizen protest against Asian-owned businesses were mainly caused by this particular group of citizens, whose only desire is to earn an honest living and survive as law-abiding citizens.
I agree that due to major reforms in the national education sector, there are many young people coming through it after completing lower and upper secondary schools throughout the country.
I also agree that only a fifth of them make it through to tertiary institutions and technical colleges. 
However, I don’t think we do not have enough skilled or professional workforce for the PNG project.
Please show us the records of how many of those who have made it through to tertiary institutions and technical colleges have found skilled or professional jobs. 
Please also show us how many foreigners are living and working lawfully in this country and how many of them are not.
Given the level of incompetence demonstrated to date by the department he heads, I have serious doubts about the accuracy of his statistics on our workforce or records of law-abiding non-citizens living and working in PNG.
I believe we have more than enough skilled and professional workforce in PNG who can perform in any given field, even beyond expectations of employers that are involved in the LNG project.
It is indeed an affront to the intelligence of many brilliant Papua New Guineans who are working as skilled or professionals both here and abroad for a senior public servant to make outrageous comments.
It seems Mr Tibu and his department do not have up-to-date statistics to show how many skilled or professional Papua New Guineans are available for the LNG project.
He should inform the nation as to how many of the 7,000 jobs he thinks are available should be taken up by Papua New Guineans.
To bluntly say there are no takers for that many gas jobs is outrageous and unfair to those skilled or professional citizens who are still looking for jobs in this country.
Is it any wonder, under the gas agreement signed in May last year, the State, through Mr Tibu’s department, agreed to amend the Employment (Non-Citizens) Act, the amendment which allows developers such as ExxonMobil and its joint venture partners, to recruit skilled or professionals from overseas as they think fit?
In essence, Mr Tibu has allowed LNG project developers such as ExxonMobil to recruit foreigners for jobs which are reserved for Papua New Guineans.
I don’t think it is meritorious for him to comment on job localisation in the LNG project.
It is of no consequence to the LNG project developers regarding job localisation following the amendment.
It is ironic to note that the very department mandated by the people of this country to regulate and manage the workforce is trying to “wash his hands off” of what his Government has done through Parliament to the detriment of many skilled and professional Papua New Guineans still on the streets in search of jobs.
Please get real, sir!


Raymond Kuai
Pureni, Hela