By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE signing of the K43 billion Papua LNG project has heated up again with former finance minister James Marape and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill locked in a face-off.
Marape has accused O’Neill of making inappropriate decisions to facilitate the signing of the multi-billion-kina deal while the latter retorted that Government decision papers had been reviewed and agreed to by all stakeholders, including the Gulf government.
It now appears that the Papua LNG project is set to be the fiery issue in the run-up to the May 28 resumption of the Parliament session.
And the Parliamentary private business committee has yet to meet and decide whether to allow the vote of no confidence motion submitted by the opposition.
Marape, pictured, the Tari-Pori MP, yesterday accused O’Neill of side-tracking government decision papers and consensus decision processes.
“This forced me to resign as minister,” he said.
“Important industry and treasury papers relating to Papua LNG were swept aside to pave the way for the agreement signing.
“We cannot run a country this way in ignoring important project papers.
“These are the reasons why some of us (MPs and Cabinet members) shifted.
“Papua New Guinea has a substantial resource base in the mining, oil and gas, fisheries, logging and the agriculture but our citizens are not benefitting.
“Something is wrong somewhere when the government is not unlocking those resources for our people.
“We have a government that wants to save the interests of corporate giants and allowing contracts to be given to a few corporate organisations and foreigners.”
However, O’Neill retorted: “All documents from both parties (the state negotiation team and the Treasury) were reviewed line by line and agreed to by all stakeholders, including the Gulf government.
“All fiscal terms were agreed to by the Treasury.
“He (Marape) is just finding excuses because this is a better deal than the one Marape and National Alliance Government did for the first LNG project … of higher benefits.”
Marape said the alternative government wanted to get the nation back on track, giving economic independence to the people. “We achieved Independence 44 years ago by our fathers, like Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan and Paias Wingti,” he said.
“Irrespective of which party they come from, they talked about education, health infrastructure, and law and order.
“What are those if we don’t develop our economic base? My view is simple. Expand the economic base by empowering our people. Make sure our landowners and provincial governments are empowered to enable them to participate in business.
“We need to have greater local content and we need to empower greater business participation by our people.”
By JEFFREY ELAPA