Investors vow to complete casino

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday 4th September, 2012

INVESTORS in the multi-million kina Grand Hotel Casino in Port Moresby have been assured that the project is alive, well and will be completed.
The new developer AusPNG Holdings Ltd said in a statement yesterday that the project was on track and all stakeholders were in agreement for it to be completed quickly.
Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry secretary Steven Mera said that all parties have held “talks” and wanted to see this project completed without further delay.
Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru and Mineral Resources Development Corporation (MRDC) managing director Augustine Mano were unavailable for comment yesterday as they were overseas.
But with more than K22 million invested in the project, financial partners Petroleum Resources Gobe (PRG) and Petroleum Resources Moran (PRM) represented by chairman Philip Kende want the project to recommence immediately. 
Kende said yesterday, the project partners PRG, PRM and AusPNG had met Maru, Mera and a number of officials from the state’s implementing agencies last week and the outcome was favourable.
“I am happy to say that the new minister has taken charge of the project and indications are favourable for the investors,” Kende said.
A technical report is expected to be released by private firm Kramer Ausenco (PNG) Ltd this week.
Told there was word out that the project would be terminated and its existing structures demolished, Kende said it was “definitely out of the question and outrageous even to consider it”.
He said that with more than K80 million already sunk into the project it was simply impossible to demolish the buildings and terminate the project at this stage.
“The costs to be incurred by the state in the event of the project being terminated is simply too much,” Kende said.
Following the tabling of the technical report, the investment partners will order a financial forensic audit to properly identify investors to the project and whether or not they invested in accordance with investment laws, he said.
“With this report (financial), we the investment partners will then realign ourselves with the new terms of reference and create a new shareholding structure.”  
The project, originally undertaken by Korean company CMSS, has been dogged by delays caused by funding issues.
The new project developer says those are issues of the past.
“We have been transparent in our dealings with the government from day one and have provided proof of available finance to competently complete the project.”