PNG needs better plan for extractive industry growth

The National, Wednesday July 13th, 2016

ALLOW me to jot down my personal opinion prompted by the recently launched report by the Extractive Industry Trans-parency Initiative (EITI).
The report highlighted some alarming trends in the extractive industries. But let me highlight project externalities and distribu-tion of benefits.
Firstly, the project exter-nalities have not being properly accounted for in the project scope.
When we look at most mining and petroleum sites in the country, we realize that there have been some form of environment ‘spill over’ like runoff of chemicals from project sites to cheap, somewhat scrupulous disposal of toxic chemicals from oper-ations.
Behind these revelations, the EITI found out that there was no legis-lation that could have guide the method of use and disposal of toxic chemicals.
For example, there was an instance when the project developer of the PNG LNG Project had to use drilling chemical on the Earth’s surface when constructing pipelines at a tributary of Lake Kutubu in the Southern Highlands.
This had caused a large-scale environment damage to the Lake Kutubu biodiversity area and posing health hazard to the local communities.
The government should furthermore, lack of accountability, trans-parency and legitimacy.
The landownership issue of Gobe Oil Project is still pending in the  courts and this makes any claims of benefit at the sub national level invalid and of course illegal.
This brings into question the adaptation of the modern commercial interests into local customs and interests. And also questions whether the Bougainville Crisis hap-pened out of mistake and if another crisis of such mag-nitude would return to the country?
In conclusion, all of these issues pose a big question about whether the country is prepared in advance when negotiating for the various projects in the extractive industries in the country.

Mike Haro
Port Moresby