No extra funds to set up SWF, says O’Neill

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PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says there are no additional funds available to set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) due to depressed oil prices.
Responding to a statement by former prime minister Sir Mekere Morata on the Government’s failure to set up a SWF was a deliberate move by O’Neill to plunder and waste money.
He said no money had been plundered or was intended to be plundered as claimed by Sir Mekere.
He said every toea was accounted for as required for all public funds.
However, Sir Mekere said O’Neill’s failure to set up a SWF, leaving national revenue funds to be used heavily, meant that any recovery plan by an incoming government would take years because of a lack of money.
He said no money had flowed into the proposed SWF — “in fact, it had not even been constituted and did not have a board of directors despite all the trumpeting by O’Neill and his accomplices. There is no SWF with any money or any assets – it is toktok tasol”.
“If the SWF had been set up, as proposed by me in 2011 and legislated in 2012, an incoming government would have a powerful tool to help with the rebuilding necessary after seven years of economic and financial mismanagement,” Sir Mekere said. “What should have gone into the SWF has been wasted on monuments such as roads to nowhere, buildings that are now standing empty and K3 billion Apec party for his cronies and rich foreigners. (The Maseratis and Bentleys still have not been sold.).
“Compare O’Neill’s miserable performance with that of tiny Kiribati with 110,000 people. It has a SWF holding the equivalent of K2.5 billion. Timor L’este has a fund worth K57 billion through wise use of its oil and gas revenue. PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd, which is in effect a SWF, has saved K5 billion for the people of Western. O’Neill has wasted millions of kina of public money on legal challenges in attempts to get his hands on PNGSDP’s money.
“O’Neill, the sole shareholder of Kumul, must explain what he has done with all the money. For example, in 2016 Kumul Petroleum had revenue of K1.8 billion at today’s exchange rate, and in 2017 it had revenue of K2.2 billion.”
O’Neill responded that all the statements were mere rubbish and misleading.
He asked Sir Mekere to look at the annual audited accounts for KPHL and the dividends it paid to Treasury.
O’Neill said due to depressed oil prices, there were no additional funds to set up SWF yet until oil prices recovered.