The National, Friday 7th June 2013
PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) chairman Sir Mekere Morauta admitted that Tuesday’s annual general meeting in Port Moresby could be the last for the company.
This comes after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s recent announcement that the Government would take ownership of the Ok Tedi mine from Jan 1, 2014.
O’Neill’s vendetta with PNGSDP has been ongoing since last November when he barred its then chairman, Prof Ross Garnaut, from entering PNG, after his alleged disparaging remarks about PNG politicians’ use of public funds,
This is the first time Sir Mekere has spoken on the issue.
“This meeting marks a turning point in the company’s history as a model mine owner, a model development agency and a model funds manager.
“Now, through unplanned circumstances forced on the company, it is moving towards the final shape designed for it by my government more than 10 years ago,” he said.
“To put into context recent events concerning the company and the possible consequences, some history is necessary.
“PNGSDP was created as a central part of the Ok Tedi Mine Continuation (ninth supplemental) Agreement Act 2001, which gives the force of law to the agreed outcomes of the negotiations between the State of Papua New Guinea and BHP Billiton to allow the Ok Tedi mine to continue operations and BHP Billiton to withdraw.”
Sir Mekere said the creation of PNGSDP was at the heart of the Ninth Supplemental Agreement Act’s intention that Ok Tedi Mining Ltd dividends be used wisely, transparently and accountably.
“In the 10 years since it began, PNGSDP has fulfilled this mandate.
“By level of expenditure, it is the second-largest development agency in the country after AusAID, and has delivered a wide range of projects to every corner of the country, to improve the quality of life of people, especially in remote and disadvantaged areas, and make a substantial contribution to economic and social development.
“At this point, it is appropriate on behalf of the board to thank the company’s staff and in particular my predecessor, Garnaut, for their efforts.”