Tag Archives: Isaac Lupari

Pressure on MRDC to come clean on LNG revenue

Isaac Lupari chairs MRDC where “everything it does is shrouded in secrecy”

Mekere Morauta | PNG Attitude | 25 September 2019

The Mineral Resources Development Corporation (MRDC) needs to publish up-to-date audited details of its group finances since PNG LNG gas production began in mid-2014.

MRDC manages landowner equity interests in both mining and petroleum projects and is chaired by chief secretary Isaac Lupari.

It is estimated that almost K1 billion in landowner royalties has flowed into its coffers since then, but virtually none of that money has reached its rightful owners.

And, contrary to claims by MRDC last week, I am advised that the company has not paid any dividends on the investments it has made on behalf of landowners from their royalty payments.

Hundreds of millions of kina have been invested, but are these profitable, sound investments?

MRDC can make flowery statements, empty promises and false and irrelevant denials, but the fact is that, without publishing its accounts, it cannot prove what it says is true.

It cannot demonstrate that it is operating according to the law, or that landowners are receiving a fair return on their funds.

MRDC’s independent auditors have refused to sign off financial statements. The auditor-general has refused to sign off financial statements. And MRDC has not supplied financial statements to the auditor-general or the Investment Promotion Authority as required.

This is why it is so important that the public inquiry into MRDC proposed by prime minister James Marape goes ahead as soon as possible. In the meantime MRDC should immediately come clean on the state of its finances.

It is in the landowners’ interests that current information verified by independent auditors and the auditor-general is made available.

Failure to supply that information will only heighten public suspicions that all is not well at MRDC. Has there been waste, abuse and mismanagement? The public, as owners of this state corporation, has a right to know.

The information required includes details of trust accounts and other accounts holding landowner funds, the cost and current value of MRDC’s investments, returns on those investments to landowners, withdrawals of landowner funds and details of board approvals for them, payments to all directors and management, fees charged by MRDC to subsidiary companies, and payments to suppliers.

A media release issued last week by MRDC consisted of spin and misinformation. The dividends the company claimed to have been paid are not dividends from MRDC’s investment of landowner funds. They are dividends paid from underlying resource projects as a result of equity participation negotiated by the State.

Nor can MRDC legitimately claim any increase in asset values because its financial statements have been called into question by its independent auditors and the auditor-general.

The value of MRDC’s investments using landowner funds is singled out for criticism by its auditors and the auditor-general. There are other question marks over short term deposits, receivables, related party balances, income tax and financial statement disclosures.

Other comments made by MRDC have an equally unsound basis – none of the documents or processes it refers to in its media release are open to public scrutiny. MRDC, unlike most other state-owned enterprises, does not even have a website.

Everything MRDC does is shrouded in secrecy. It has not provided up-to-date information or full information or even correct information for years.

Now is the time to provide it.

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Investigate MRDC and Petroleum Resources Gobe

Ensure politically connected do not out laws

Mack Lone Bolan | Post Courier | 28 August 2019

Taking back PNG also means ensuring that the politically connected do not out our laws – the case of MRDC.

It is quite alarming to witness that the Office of the Prime Minister and other responsible agencies of government have not found it necessary to inquire into what is unfolding at the MRDC and inform the public to reduce their apprehensions about the government’s resolve on curbing corruption.

We have the chairman of the trustee company, the Petroleum Resources Gobe Ltd (PRG) Philip Kende and the managing director of the manager (MRDC) Mr Augustine Mano engaged in open war of words over a K30.3m which disappeared just weeks before the recent vote of no confidence and there is plenty of speculation surrounding it.

The MRDC is just the manager of the trustee and therefore does not have the authority to be involved in anything relating to policies over the GLC process and the amendments to the provisions of the Oil and Gas Act on the management of the trust funds.

The Chief Secretary to Government, Isaac Lupari, is the chairman of the board of the manager – MRDC. He would be in a unique position to assist the government and inform the project area landowners what the truth is about the missing millions of kina not only the K30.3m but also the K200m reported in the newspapers in December last year.

In the interest of fairness, both men (Kende and Mano) ought to be sidelined and allow the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Squad led by Chief Superintendent Mathew Damaru with his Officers to have free access to the records and interview staff at the MRDC to settle these things quickly.

The Minister for Petroleum would need to ensure that the Department of Petroleum is still responsible for policy issues in the sector and not stand by and have this function or parts of it performed by someone else such as overseeing the GLC process.

We would really like to believe that the days of “if you are politically connected, you can do anything” are gone but cannot begin to talk about “Taking Back PNG” when we still have an environment where the politically connected feel they can still continue to do anything.

Tok pisin bilong Waigani must stop. Commission and inducements for processing papers, clearing things, responding to correspondences and securing approvals etc. would have to be things of the past.

Only when we have overcome all of the above and more can we begin to feel that we are Taking Back PNG.

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How the elite profit while a nation suffers their incompetence

Port Moresby, a city where the elite profit while the rest suffer the consequences of their incompetence

PNG Exposed | 19 February 2018

Imagine a company that is in debt, heavily in debt and still racking up more losses.

Imagine a company that in 2016 alone lost over K354 million.

Imagine a company where the total liabilities exceed the total assets by more than K218 million.

Imagine that this is a company set up by the government to manage a nations interests in its abundant mineral resources.

Now imagine no more and say hello to Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited, formerly Petromin PNG Holdings Limited.

The figures above are from Kumul Minerals Holdings latest Annual Return, which is for the 2016 financial year.

How could a company that, according to Statute, is supposed to be the commercial enterprise that participates in mineral exploration, development, production, processing and marketing activities,on behalf of the State be run into near bankruptcy?

But never fear, the Directors, the people responsible for this appalling state of affairs are still profiting handsomely.

While the company was racking up losses of K354 million in 2016 alone its Board members were still taking a handsome pay packet:

Director Remuneration
Brown Bai K 159,759
Ian Goddard K 211,337
Jerry Wemin K 126,227
William Searson K 102,654
Richard Tengdui K 99,809
Issac Lupari K 68,232
Peter Pokawin K 23,959
Arunavu Basu K 182.816
Peter Graham K 59,028
Stanley Lira K 33,129
Richard Kuna K 34,379

 

In total K1,101,329 paid to eleven men [yes, all men, no room here for gender diversity let alone equality] many, if not all of whom, already occupy other well paid jobs.

K1.1 million paid for overseeing losses of over K354 million, losses that were almost three times greater than in the previous year, 2015 (K133 million).

And the excess does not end there. In addition to the Board remuneration, Kumul Minerals Holdings had 10 staff who earned more than K100,000 each in 2016.

One of those staff earned over K920,000, two more over K620,000, another over K450,000 and one over K300,000. Two more earned over K270,000.

In total, Kumul Minerals Holdings paid its staff just under K9 million in 2016 and spent a further K1.5 million on consultancy and professional fees.

Who is ultimately responsible for this negligent mismanagement of our nations mineral wealth, and the looting of an empty pot?

Well it has to be the trustee shareholder does it not, the person who effectively owns the company on behalf of the nation, who is none other than one Peter O’Neill.

It seems our trustee is not doing a very good job!

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Benefit sharing remains a great challenge

lihir

Cyril Gare | PNG Blogs | 17 October 2016

Resource development, ownership, and fair and equal sharing of benefits accrued from development projects such as mining and oil and gas remain a biggest challenge yet for Papua New Guinea 41 years on as an Independent country.

And the people of Londolovit on Lihir island, New Ireland province are among one such group of resource owners who are still searching for a correct matrix to balance the scale.

They own the traditional Londolovit river where Newcrest Mining Limited (NML) operator of the Lihir Gold Limited (LGL) extracts water for its operations since 1995.

Their fight is three fold between LMALA (Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association) who are owners of the “gold”, LGL, and State.

Their issues have been to:

  • get LMALA to acknowledge them as “water” resource owners and remit adequate benefit as possible under the Integrated Benefit Package (IBP) of the Lihir mine Agreement which stand is justified on the premise that water is fundamental in gold processing without water there will be no gold;
  • LGL to acknowledge and sign a new water use and impact agreement with them as the current water impact agreement was obsolete since it was first created in 1998 and does not include payment for water use except environment impact; and
  • State to acknowledge them as original and traditional owners of the Londolovit river and not State as stipulated in the Environment Act 2000 so that State to create a separate facility (trust account) for them to share with State all monies paid to State by LGL as issuer of water permit and “owner” (in their stead) of Londolovit river. 

It has been four years since the search for answers began. Delegation after delegation and costly trips between Lihir and Port Moresby were taken only to become a “football” kicked here and there between MRA (Mineral Resources Authority) and CEPA (Conservation and Environment Protection Authority) each shrugging off liability and responsibility alike over the Londolovit water resource owners’ issue.

It was in February this year after LGL refused to become a party in a new proposed Londolovit river water use and impact agreement that prompted the Office of the Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari (Office of the Prime Minister and National Executive Council) to show some sign of interest and intervention.

Directions were issued to CEPA to re-look at the issues of the Londolovit community. This also prompted the Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate, Hon. John Pundari to intervene and getting CEPA off its comfort zone at the Beemobile building at Gordons.

LGL had refused to become a party to sign on a new proposed water use and impact agreement that will supersede the obsolete Supplementary Agreement of 1998 which only cater for a minimal payment of K300,000 per annum for environment impacts on their traditional Londolovit river where LGL has a weir which extracts water for its mining operations.

The creation of the Londolovit Sagomana Association (LSA) through the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) on 16th February, 2016 was a breath of relief and new lease of energy and confidence to further pursue their long standing water fight.

On the 09th September, 2016, LSA Chairperson, Ms. Roselyne Arau led a small delegation to Port Moresby and held talk with Minister Pundari.

Among others, the K113 million claim against LGL for water extraction “over and above” permitted rates were discussed. Failure by State (CEPA) to effectively regulate and monitor water extraction by LGL according to the conditions of the water permit was also discussed with the view for State to admit liability for negligence.

The good Minister agreed to look into these outstanding issues and sort these issues before Christmas out once and for all. Prior to doing so, he arranged for an advance team led by CEPA’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Dilu Muguwa to travel to Lihir for fact finding and for a report to be presented to him within two weeks.

The advance team travelled to Lihir on October 11, met with LSA on October 12 and went through a total of nine (9) terms of references (OR) set by Environment Ministry and returned to Port Moresby on October 13.

As a State Team comprising officers from State Solicitor, MRA, CEPA, and department of PM and NEC is set to follow suit on October 24, the people of Londolovit were grateful of Minister Pundari and Chief Secretary, Ambassador Isaac Lupari for their interventions and are hoping for better soon.

In its six page written submission to CEPA’s advance team, LSA stated among other issues and demands that: “Water and Gold are two different resources. Under the existing benefit sharing arrangements such as the Integrated Benefit Package (IBP) only “gold” resource owners through LMALA tend to enjoy all the benefits compared to “water” resource owners and rest of the impacted surrounding communities on Lihir island. Although water remains the single most important resource needed to process gold, this fact has been long overlooked since the start of the mine in 1995/1997.

“The IBP is subject to jurisdiction of the LMALA management which experience so far has proven that LMALA was only bias and lack the virtue of ‘equal and fair sharing’ of benefits to the water supplying community of Londolovit and or other impacted surrounding communities. Perhaps this is to do with the mineral resource development regime in the country where “gold” resource owners are given more recognition by State and developers than “water” resource owners in mining activity areas in PNG.

“Poor management resulting in recent investigations (Business Audit) into the affairs of LMALA can only further confirm the general feeling of mistrust for LMALA management and its executives among the impacted communities on Lihir island.

“What we want:  The formation of the Londolovit Sagomana Association (LSA) which was registered with the Investment Promotion Authority on the 16th February, 2016 was an affirmation for succession away from the umbrella of LMALA who has failed to adequately stand for and in the interest of the Londolovit water resource owners since 1997.

Among others, LSA’s principal objectives in the Association’s Constitution are simply straight to the point: 

  • to conduct, encourage, promote, advance and administer development aspirations of the Londolovit people from the proceeds of Londolovit River Weir where the Lihir Gold Limited (LGL) is extracting water from for its mine operations; and 
  • to act, at all times, on behalf of and in the interest of the Members and the Association as a mining impact community. 
  • In a letter dated 14th March, 2016 to Coordinator of the Lihir Agreement Review (LAR) committee, LSA blatantly stated: “We intend to pursue our own interest as “water” resource owners in the Lihir gold project for a separate benefit package of our own. We want to have nothing to do with LMALA and the LAR process. 
  • LMALA and LGL to honour all outstanding benefits owed to Londolovit under IBP. 
  • MRA (Mining Warden) and LGL to review and honour all outstanding benefits/compensation owed to Londolovit under LMP 34 and ME 73 tenements. 
  • Option A – State to create a trust account where payments receive from LGL for the “use” of water is shared with Londolovit as traditional (original) owners of the water. The metamorphosis ‘State’ is supposed to be “custodian” to properties of traditional and customary landowners and not itself “owner”. The sacrosanctity of customary/traditional properties rights is in this way lost and stolen by this beast forever. 
  • Option B – State to intervene and impose on the LGL to review its decision why it refused to become a party to the new proposed water agreement by LSA (Londolovit). This proposed water agreement stemmed from Recommendation # 4 of the CEPA sanctioned Londolovit River Environmental Audit Report –August 2015 by Moroka Pty Ltd. 
  • Option C – All State, LGL and LSA to become parties to an all new proposed water agreement over the Londolovit river for its use, impact, and benefit sharing with the view to reaching a long lasting win win situation for all parties in future. 
  • State and LGL to resolve to an amicable outcome and pay K113 million as compensation to the Londolovit people for over extraction of their water illegally.
  • LMALA and LGL to honour all outstanding benefits owed to Londolovit under IBP. 
  • Copy of the Business Development Audit Report be provided to us forthwith for perusal and record.
  • Until Londolovit is more involved and participating from the benefits from the Lihir mining operation Lihir Agreement Review (LAR) is insignificant to the Londolovit water resource owners at its current stage. 

At the time of meeting (October 12) in Lihir, the LAR process attended by a State Team, LMALA, and LGL was in progress in Kavieng without LSA attendance after request by LAR coordination team was turned down.

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