Opp queries K125m loan

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, May 4, 2011

THE opposition has called on the government to provide cabinet decision on the controversial “borrowing” of K125 million for Kokopo district from National Superannuation Fund (Nasfund).
Deputy leader of opposition and Lae MP Bart Philemon made the call yesterday following media reports on the deal that had reportedly circumvented normal governance processes.
“The government must justify why the nation should carry debts for community projects in one district arising from the issuance of this special purpose securities,” Philemon said.
“Did Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare sign the special purpose securities for this community infrastructure project?
“Or did Treasurer Peter O’Neill sign?
“And what role did Department of Treasury play in this deal?” the Lae MP asked.
He said fundraising initiatives using this process were usually done to help fund the national budget on projects of national importance and “it requires a register of stock for administrative and regulatory purposes, a role usually performed by the Central Bank”.
He said the opposition wanted details on why Kokopo, which has a population of 53,000 as opposed to Talasea, for example, which has a population of 128,000, or others with even higher populations and were less developed, were not chosen.
“If Treasury is not involved, then which private company is managing the stock and at what cost because Central Bank is not the register of stock,” Philemon said.
He said when East New Britain Governor Leo Dion raised the matter, opposition had raised added concerns but were ignored.
“But the prime minister, the treasurer and cabinet are responsible for this departure from ‘equality and participation’ which were cornerstones of our sovereignty,” he said.
“The opposition wants Nasfund to publicly indicate on what basis and at whose request was the
K125 million for the Kokopo community infrastructure projects approved.
“Nasfund contributors are taxpayers and citizens of Papua New Guinea,” he said.