The National, Tuesday 06th December 2011
PUBLIC Enterprises Minister Sir Mekere Morauta has called on his predecessor Arthur Somare and the former IPBC management to accept responsibility for their actions.
He said the performance of the former minister and the former IPBC management has been “grossly negligent” and called on this newspaper to stop trying to muzzle him.
He was responding to an editorial in The National which called on him and Somare to stop the public feuding which seems to stem from personal rather than professional animosity.
The senior minister said he took personal offence by the editorial which suggested this.
“I have no personal animosity towards Somare.
“But I will not hesitate to take on people who abuse, misuse or waste public assets,” Sir Mekere said.
The minister repeated some of his arguments that Somare’s actions had cost the nation vast sums of money including the Abu Dhabi loan which caused a K900 million shortfall.
Responding to this, Somare said yesterday: “The Minister for Public Enterprises Sir Mekere continues to try and confuse the public with statements that fail to present an accurate picture of various issues that many public servants and others recognise as half-truths and untruths.”
Somare said he believed this was the reason why The National had run an editorial calling for a truce to the so-called criticisms that Sir Mekere had been propounding since he took office four months ago.
“What Sir Mekere is doing is very clear.
“He is personalising and trivialising important issues of national significance.
“Sir Mekere keeps raising the shortfall for the government share of the cost of our 19.6% equity in the PNG LNG project – not 19.4% as he mentioned in a previous statement.
“As Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and others well know because of their involvement in these negotiations, the A$1.681 billion we raised was much more than anyone had hoped for at the time from the sale of Oil Search shares.
“That was done through an exchangeable bond issue with the International Public Investment Corporation of Abu Dhabi.
“The shortfall at the time was known to the entire cabinet.
“All of us were aware we would have no problem refinancing this when the money was needed.”