O’Neill explains loan deal

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FORMER Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told the Commission of Inquiry into the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) K3 billion loan two weeks ago that seeking parliamentary approval for loans had not been practised in the past.
He told the inquiry on June 17 that “in my recollection, Parliament has never sat for every specific loan approval or transaction”.
“It does not require special sessions as and when transactions of Government are being made.
“Parliament approved through the budgetary process,” he said.
“As I said in 2014, I am certain that the budget papers took into noting this transaction taking place.
“I can assure you that every minister and treasurer expressed their views in respect to this submission in Cabinet.
“Officials (government) took charge of the negotiations, Cabinet considered those submissions on March 6. Transaction were completed on March 12.
“I certainly did not hear concerns from anyone else.
“Nothing was said before the transaction took place.
“Most statements you are referring to are from persons who have political differences with me.
“Most have been sacked as ministers from time to time.
“Their recollection is different from the majority in Cabinet.”
When asked by inquiry chairman Sir Salamo Injia of his understanding of Section 209 in terms of government’s decision to raise revenue through a loan finance, O’Neill responded: “It reflects on the government’s annual budget, that government puts to parliament about raising of capital, raising of loans and of course raising of revenue and expenditure of the national government.
“And this includes raising of loans in respect to funding the budget.
“In this instance, in my view, it was raised to make an investment, not to fund the budget. And as such it has been normally taken up by Governments in the past.”
He said any investment that the Government made through its state-owned enterprises were normally captured during an annual budget presentation and presented to Parliament for ratification.


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