By REBECCA KUKU
AS the reign of his government draws to a close, Tari-Pori MP James Marape looks back at his political journey since taking over as prime minister three years ago.
Marape recalled the events of April 10, 2019 when he resigned as the Finance Minister and Leader of Government Business in the Government led by Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill.
“When I put in my resignation, I was on my own. I didn’t have the numbers. I had no intention of forming a new government. I resigned not knowing what the future held.
“At that time, about three parties approached me to join them. But I chose Pangu which had only six or seven MPs. This was after the late Sam Basil left the party to start his own ULP.
“Pangu did not chose me. I chose Pangu because I believed that to fight for a bigger cause, I would need to do so under a party that has the mandate and experience.
“Pangu didn’t have the numbers but I chose the party because I knew that it had given PNG Independence in 1975. And if I wanted to give economic independence to the people, it will be through Pangu.”
When he took over as prime minister in May, 2019, 50 days after he had resigned, his government inherited a lot of legacy issues from past governments.
“ Pangu did not choose me. I chose Pangu because I believed that to fight for a bigger cause, I would need to do so under a party that has the mandate and experience.”
“We had to face a lot of challenges and the last three years was not easy for us. We tried to repay loans obtained by past governments and at the same time save our economy when the world was hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak. By 2020, the economy had suffered badly, both globally and domestically. The fight continued in 2021, but we still managed to deliver.”
Marape takes credit for the passing of the ICAC bill and other supporting laws in Parliament.
“Recently, we passed laws that will hold all MPs, public servants and citizens accountable. This will ensure that everyone has to explain how they were able to acquire properties. For example, if a public servant buys 10 vehicles to run a car hire company, he will have to explain where he got the money from etc.”
He believes his government had done much in the past three years, while battling the impacts of Covid-19.
“It has not been easy but I am proud to say that Pangu delivered.”
He warns people not to be fooled by “smooth talks and smoke screens” but look at what had been done and achieved.
“The fight to take back PNG was not easy. We had just three years but we delivered much.”
He is also satisfied with achievements in agriculture.
“Coffee was around K3.50 per kilo before. Today the price has risen to K12.50 a kilo.”
And he also is happy with what had been achieved at the Porgera mine.
“PNG used to own only 5 per cent. Now we own 51 per cent. And I thank Barrick for their understanding, that’s it’s time to take back what is ours.”
Marape sees Pangu as a party that is as old as the country itself.
“It was started by the country’s founding fathers, so it knows its responsibility to the people. Pangu gave birth to PNG, Pangu gave political independence to PNG.
“Today, we also want to provide economic impendence to our people.
“As the mother political party, Pangu wants to see the country stand on its feet and become independent economically as well.”