The National – Friday, December 10, 2010
THE 11th Mining and Petroleum Conference was held in Sydney recently.
In a packed room, Oil Search Ltd, a major partner in the PNG LNG project, shocked experts, government officials and ministers, by revealing it spent a whopping K11.931 billion in oil benefits between 1992 and 2009.
And there was nothing on the ground to show for this money, the company said.
The verdict from its CEO Peter Botten was “no significant appropriate improvements in living standards” had occurred in PNG from billions of kina given to landowners, provincial governments and national government as resource benefits over the last 17 years.
Today, people continue to die from cholera, TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, cancer and many other diseases.
If Oil Search alone has pumped in almost K12 billion over the last 17 years, then how much have Ok Tedi, Porgera, Misima, Tolokuma and Lihir contributed?
Where did all the money go to?
The government is focused on the LNG project and boasting to the world in Sydney that PNG economy stands to gain immensely.
Early works on the project has started and, to date, more than K2 billion has been spent.
The area where the LNG project is located has been exporting oil for a long time.
But there is no development to be seen in Southern Highlands.
Is it any wonder the Australia government is pushing for the sovereign wealth fund to be established and held in Australia?
The issue now is the governance of this fund.
Experts are concerned over the form and manner this fund will be managed because of our poor track record in the management of funds.
I can only hope that the big PNG contingent listened and absorbed what people like Botten is saying.
Arrogance should have not a place here.
Prof Jason Nakandaul