PNGSDP lays off 59 workers

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The National, Wednesday October 23rd, 2013

 THE PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd has laid off 59 workers because of the financial problems it faces, chief executive officer David Sode said.

Sode said it was “because of a lack of revenue flow following the national government’s expropriation, without compensation, of the Ok Tedi mine”.

“I regret to say that 59 staff, some of whom have been with PNGSDP for many years, have lost their jobs. 

“This represents more than half of our workforce of 92.

“Our staff are the best of the best, highly skilled in their field, committed to nation-building, committed to their projects and committed to the people of Western.

“By reason of the decision by OTML not to pay our 2012 dividend to us, we do not have enough funds to continue business as usual.”

“Nor can we legally access the Long Term Fund to keep our social and economic development projects going and staff employed.”

He said monitoring of other parts of the organisation was continuing.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday called on PNGSDP chairman Sir Mekere Morauta to step down.

He said there was no reason for PNGSDP to close down its projects in Western and around the country as announced last Friday because it had enough money to continue running them.

“There is no need for them to cancel any projects,” O’Neill said.

“There is sufficient money, hundreds of millions of kina, in the account that Sustainable is managing to finish off all these projects.

“There is sufficient money in the Long Term Fund to finish all the projects – US$1.4 billion-plus (K3.64 billion).

“This is just blackmail and emotional outburst by PNG Sustainable Development and Sir Mekere to justify their argument.

“Sir Mekere should shut up, if he has got any honour left in him, and resign because he’s got a serious conflict of interest.”

O’Neill warned villagers threatening to close down the mine today that they would be dealt with by police.