Gulf landowners welcome PNG PM’s stand on resource laws

James Marape the member for Tari Pori is the new prime minister of Papua New Guinea.

Radio New Zealand | 5 June 2019

Landowners in Papua New Guinea’s Gulf province have welcomed the new prime minister’s stand on resource laws.

James Marape said his government will review the country’s resource laws which he described as outdated.

Mr Marape and other MPs resigned from the Peter O’Neill-led government in April after it signed with French company Total for the $US13 billion Papua LNG gas project in Gulf.

They cited concerns that landowner interests were being undermined in the agreement, and that the O’Neill government had rushed the deal through without meeting mandatory requirements.

The high-level opposition to the project agreement has resonated with local landowners in Gulf Province.

The Purari Development Association general secretary Roy Daniel Evara said the agreement is flawed because the developer has dictated terms to PNG.

“The agreement itself did not comply to very critical pre-conditions of the Oil and Gas Act, which is the guiding pillar for the industry. An agreement should never dictate to the pillars of the country’s laws. It should only conform and comply with it.”

Roy Daniel Evara said the agreement’s provision for 2 percent equity for them was not enough.

Much of the discourse among MPs around last week’s change in leadership in PNG was about the need to address the uneven benefits from the country’s abundant resource wealth

Landowner communities in Mr Marape’s province, Hela, have been frustrated for several years over the lack of promised benefits from the country’s first LNG project, operated by Exxonmobil, which is also a partner in the Papua LNG Project.

“We do not intend to chase away our investors. They’re here to stay, we encourage them,” Mr Marape said.

“But we will look into maximising gain from what God has given this country, from our natural resources. This leadership is all about placing this country in the right place in taking back our economy.”

Mr Marape has borrowed the Take Back PNG mantra from Oro Governor Gary Juffa.

Mr Juffa argued the country isn’t truly independent because foreigners control its economy, saying PNG’s MPs need to devise laws that enable the country to take true ownership of its economy.

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Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

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