Executive Director for the Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker, says many projects such as the Ramu mine haven’t been generating income for the country. He has criticised the government for handing out concessions and not conducting proper negotiations before signing major resource contracts.
“The Ramu Nickel deal was never consulted by the provincial government but with some landowners and they struck a 10 year tax holiday deal”.
“Well that 10 year tax holiday started this year and they have been producing nickel for several years but it is only from this year the tax holiday starts so they haven’t been paying tax.”
“The materials that they have imported is duty free and they won’t be paying anything to the Department of Treasury till 2025 but by then a lot of the nickel will have gone out so again we negotiated in a position of weakness,” he stressed.
Barker said negotiations for resource project deals should be done from a position of strength and not from one of weakness and transparency is the first crucial stage in all negotiations and deals because in the event when one does not know about what is actually being transferred and how much is being recorded by the tax office or by other government agencies then this makes it very hard for civil society for the wider community including the landowners as well as non land owners to know.
“Transparency is to have people with skills to be able to read and understand and though we have a lot of resources in the country we have to fully utilise and fully accounted for, fully invested in transparent mechanisms so that the National Government with the constitution can share the benefits with the whole country,” he said.