Somare blasts Sir Mek over privatisation issue

National, Normal

The National – Friday, June 24, 2011

PUBLIC Enterprises Mi­nister Arthur Somare has hit out at Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta on his privatisation of state-owned enterprises in a fire-sale during his term as prime minister.
Last week, Sir Mekere wanted to know how the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) was managing assets and dividends from state-owned enterprises and, on Tuesday, he wanted to know when PNG Power would be capitalised.
In a written reply on Wednesday, Somare said not too long ago, Sir Mekere had allegedly planned to cheaply sell state enterprises and assets to foreigners under an externally-driven privatisation programme.
“This government came to the rescue of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) by throwing Sir Mekere’s privatisation programme out the window in 2003 for obvious reasons.
“In doing so, this government embraced public-private partnership as the preferred model to retain, fix and add value to state enterprises,” Somare said.
“Turning now to his questions, the former finance minister criticised public entities that are allowed to collect and retain revenue collected to finance their operational expenditures, suggesting that the IPBC is unique because it is the recipient and custodian of dividends from state equity in private enterprises and from SOEs.”
Somare said IPBC was not unique and operated in a similar manner acceptable to the Department of Treasury, which oversaw the public finance management system.
He said the office of immigration and citizenship services, Mineral Resources Authority, PNG Customs, Department of Labour and the Investment Promotion Authority were just a few of a long list of self-funded agencies approved by treasury.
He said the IPBC Act was a creation of the former Morauta government, “presumably, because of the financial mess created by that government’s own privatisation commission”.
“It seems odd today that Sir Mekere is asking about the IPBC model.
“Under this government, SOEs have prospered.
“The IPBC and all SOEs have rehabilitated historically ailing infrastructure, some for the first time in 40 years, rolled out new infrastructure and even attempted to finance the government’s community service obligations.”