The PNG Sustainable Development Program under Sir Mekere Morauta has secretly removed any representation by the PNG government and the people of Western Province from its board.
The national Government recently learnt about the latest developments with the Chief Secretary issuing a statement claiming the actions by Sir Mekere and the board is illegal.
The Mekere board met in Australia recently and amended the Articles of Association to achieve this outcome.
It removed article 24(B) which provides for the appointment of directors by the PNG Government, and replaced it with a new article that suited Sir Mekere and his appointees.
The amendment to the article however is illegal as no consent from the PNG government was obtained. The move by the Mekere Board will be referred to the Singapore court, and also the police to deal with to ascertain if any criminality was involved.
“I am very disappointed to learn that the board has taken it upon themselves to illegally change the articles of association so that there will no longer be any real Papua New Guinean representation on it. It will now be controlled entirely by BHP appointed directors. It is rogue behaviour by the Mekere board that not even BHP would find acceptable,” Chief Secretary to Government Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc said yesterday.
The Sustainable Development Program has independent directors appointed with the consent of BHP and the PNG government. While Sir Mekere and others are appointed by BHP, the PNG government appointed Wilson Kamit, a director appointed by the Bank of Papua New Guinea; Donald Manoa, a director appointed by the Chamber of Commerce; and Rex Paki, a director appointed by the Minister responsible for Treasury.
These directors represented the people of Papua New Guinea and in particular the people of Western Province.
The government recently replaced Rex Paki with Arthur Somare.
“With the amendment, the board under Sir Mekere has decided that there will be no new appointments to these positions. This means that those individuals who currently hold those positions will do so until they resign and then no new appointments will be made.
“This decision is in direct contravention of the company’s articles of association. According to the articles of association any changes must be approved in writing by both BHP and the State. The State has not consented to any changes to the articles. This is a flagrant violation of the company rules,” Sir Manasupe said.
“Given these events I am very concerned about the governance of the Sustainable Development Program. The board has shown a complete disregard for the company rules and has taken steps to eliminate proper oversight by Papua New Guineans.
“Legal action has already been commenced in Singapore due to other illegal actions being taking by them. The state is taking all available steps to protect the assets of the Sustainable Development Program and the interests of the people of Western Province.
“This move to take PNGSDP and its assets away from the people of PNG and the Western Province will be strenuously defended in court,” Sir Manasupe said.