Tag Archives: PNGSDP

Minister Zeming Calls for Sir Mekere Morauta to ‘do the right thing’ and step down from PNG SDP

Mao Zeming

The Minister for Fisheries, Hon. Mao Zeming MP, has called on Sir Mekere Morauta to do the honourable thing and relinquish control of the PNG Sustainable Development Fund to the people of Western Province after yet another court ruling went against Sir Mekere.

On Friday the Supreme Court dismissed Sir Mekere’s challenge relating to the government’s decision to acquire shares belonging to the PNG SDP.

“The time has come for Sir Mekere Morauta to walk away from the PNG Sustainable Development Program and give the people of Western Province access to their money,” the Minister said.

“Mekere has again been shown the door in the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court and continues to lose cases before the Singapore High Court.

“There has to be a time when Sir Mekere admits that he has no claim over these billions of Kina belonging to the people of Western Province.

“This money has to be given to the men, women and children of Western Province.

“PNGSDP ceased all development projects three years ago, before moving its operations offshore, where it continues to incur millions of dollars on administration, legal and professional fees.

“This is all money that could be used for development projects that will directly help the people of Western Province.

“In the latest Supreme Court ruling, Sir Mekere’s application was described as incompetent and an abuse of the process of the court.

“Mekere is a former Prime Minister and he should behave with the dignity that is expected of someone who once held the highest office in the land.”

Minister Zeming said a massive change in attitudes is taking place around the nation in respect accorded to the rights of landowners, and this must take place in the PNG SDP.

“Last week the Prime Minister stood up in Parliament for the interests of the landowners of Western Province and other areas where resource development activities are taking place around the country.

“As PM O’Neill said, for too long the rights of landowners had been ignored, and this is now changing.

“The Government will not let up in its efforts to regain rightful oversight and control of PNGSDP and its assets.

“The State will continue to pursue the Singapore High Court action against PNGSDP to ensure that the interests of the people are safeguarded,” Minister Zeming said

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Mekere’s Sustainable Development Program Bid Rejected

Vasinatta Yama | EMTV News | August 19, 2016

The Supreme Court today rejected an application by Chairman of the PNG Sustainable Development Program, Sir Mekere Morauta, regarding the PNG SDP shares in Ok Tedi Mining Limited.

A new Mining Act was passed in 2013, which allowed for all the shares belonging to PNG SDP to be transferred to the state.

The application was for the court to interpret the Act, called the Ok Tedi Tenth Supplemental Agreement or TSA, on whether or not it is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court ruled out the application based on two factors.

Firstly, the application is not of public interest, but for the commercial interest of the PNG Sustainable Development Program.

Secondly, the applicant, Sir Mekere Morauta, failed to clarify to the court if his application was of the public’s interest.

Following these two factors, the Supreme Court ruled that PNG SDP, which is a foreign owned company, was mostly affected and Sir Mekere was used to come to the court for their benefit.

Following the passing of the TSA in 2013, PNGSDP shares in Ok Tedi were cancelled and transferred to the state.

The TSA Act provides for compensation to be paid as property by the state.

Sir Mekere, who is also the Chairman of SDP, sought relief to have its shares returned.

He filed this application for the court to interpret if the TSA Act was unconstitutional, invalid and of no force or effect.

However, the Supreme Court was in favour of the PNG government, arguing that Sir Mekere was acting solely for foreign interests. The Supreme Court found that Sir Mekere does not have the standing to bring this matter to the court.

The court ruled that his application is incompetent and is an abuse of the court’s processes.

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BHP can be sued for damage: PM

BHP-Billiton-Logo

The National aka the Loggers Times | August 11, 2016
BHP Billiton can still be sued by landowners for environmental damage it has caused in Western through the Ok Tedi mine, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.
He said that yesterday when answering a question from NCD Governor Powes Parkop on whether BHP could be sued.
Parkop said the “real culprit” behind all the environmental problems in Western was BHP.
“We must deal with BHP,” he said.
Parkop said in 1990, Western landowners, at their own cost, engaged scientists and lawyers and got a court decision for BHP to dredge the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers right down to the Great Barrier Reef.
He said BHP would have spent so much money on this – more than the long-term fund of the PNG Sustainable Development Programme – “but sadly, and to our shame, the government at that time passed the supplementary bill or act to give BHP immunity from prosecution and not to comply with that court order”.
“They then set up this PNGSD,” Parkop said.
“PNG Sustainable Development is intended to compensate our people, especially the people of Western province, but more particularly the exit plan of BHP.
“BHP is supposed to exit, but instead, they cleverly manipulated the trust deed to set up PNGSD and got the majority on the board.”

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“Major statement” due on PNG mining and gas projects

panguna mine pit

Radio New Zealand | July 25, 2016

Papua New Guinea’s government is to meet this week for discussions on ownership of major mining and petroleum projects and shareholding in the country.

Among the shareholding items which Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the National Executive Council will discuss is its involvement with Bougainville Copper Ltd.

Last month Rio Tinto gave away its majority shareholding in BCL to the Bougainville and PNG national governments, a move that angered Bougainville which had expected all the shares so it had control of the mine.

PNG’s government is also to discuss ownership of the Ok Tedi mine in Western Province.

The government had a 37% share in Ok Tedi when in 2013 it moved to take on a majority share by subsuming the 63% stake of the Sustainable Development Programme.

The move has been disputed by the SDP in a series of court actions.

However PNG Loop reports Mr O’Neill signalling an imminent statement this week about both situations, and issues related to shares in PNG’s LNG Project.

“I will be making a major statement after that (proposal) has been deliberated by the NEC,” he said.

“Let me say it again: This government wants to empower landowners to have rightful ownership of their resources. I will deliver to them before I go to the elections, this is my promise.”

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Governor challenges PM on PNGSDP

oneill_vesus_morauta

Post Courier | July 04, 2016

WESTERN Governor Ati Wobiro has challenged Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and former PM Sir Mekere Morauta to “stop fighting” and genuinely find a way forward to solve the outstanding issues surrounding the PNG Sustainable Development Program funds.

This is because as the two leaders at the forefront of the PNGSDP issue continue to be at loggerheads over the issue, the people of the Western Province continue to suffer while their funds are locked away in a faraway country.

Wobiro has also suggested that Mr O’Neill through Cabinet set up an eminent persons group to help find a win-win outcome for the people of Western Province, State and PNGSDP on how benefits previously under the care of PNGSDP should be managed.

Further, the new role for Sir Mekere and PNGSDP board should be to continue to manage the long term funds overseas and to declare an annual dividend for use in Western Province.

The dividends would then go into a special purpose entity in the province for development purposes. This special purpose entity could replace the current Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF) or some similar entity or in the interim the Mineral Resources Development Company.

“I am writing in support of the Prime Minister’s statement in the newspapers on Friday, July 1.

“I totally agree with the Prime Minister that the funds under the care of the PNG Sustainable Fund in Singapore belong to the people of the Western Province and no one else. It is pleasing to note that the Prime Minister and the State have begun a process to have these funds returned to the country for the people of Western Province,” Mr Wobiro said.

“I challenge the Prime Minister and Sir Mekere Morauta to be genuine in finding a way forward to solving this long outstanding issue.

People of the Western Province continue to suffer while their funds are locked away in a faraway country,” he said.

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Can a PM wrapped in corruption allegations be trusted on PNGSDP?

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill Photo: Joosep Martinson

Photo: Joosep Martinson

Prime Minister O’Neill ‘Committed to Resolving the PNGSDP Issue’

Papua New Guinea Today | 30 June 2016

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill reiterated today that the Government remains committed to ensuring that the assets of Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program are protected and safely delivered back to the people of Western province.

“We have said all along that all assets under the care of PNGSDP, including the US$1.3 billion long-term fund in Singapore, belong to the people of Western province and PNG.

“We have begun a process to have these assets returned to their rightful owners, and to be utilized for their direct benefit.

“Despite efforts by individuals with vested interest to frustrate and hinder the process we have undertaken, I am delighted that we have made a lot of progress.

“The court cases in Singapore and the international arbitration tribunal which the people of Western province won, are part of this process.”

The Prime Minister welcomed media reports that Sir Mekere Morauta was open to a speedier resolution outside of the court process.

“I welcome this gesture and I am always available for talks. It is not my practice to shut the door on anyone.

“Had Sir Mekere not walked out of the negotiations we started earlier on this issue, we would not be where we are today.

“So he has to be genuine about this.

“At the end of the day, we are talking about assets that belong to the people of Western province. They do not belong to me or Sir Mekere.”

PM O’Neill said the Ok Tedi Mine was unique case, which the government had to pursue in this manner.

“Sir Mekere created this complicated structure to deprive the people when he was Prime Minister. He must feel bound to help us undo it. Otherwise we will continue the fight in court and return these assets to the people,” the Prime Minister said.

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PNG govt closer to gaining control of mines

oneill_vesus_morauta

Court orders their S’pore-based operating firm to release key accounts for inspection

K.C. Vijayan | Straits Times

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government’s move to wrest control of gold and coal mines in its Western Province inched forward when the High Court here ordered the Singapore-based operating company to release key accounts for inspection.

The court found the PNG government had the right to examine the documents based on its contract terms with the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP).

The items for inspection include ledger and management accounts as well as disputed documents involving expenditure.

Justice Judith Prakash, in judgment grounds last month, further held the PNG state had a right to make copies of the documents.

“Accounting documents are some of the most information-sensitive documents in a company’s records and often require detailed and lengthy study that is not achievable during the physical inspection of documents,” she added.

The Singapore-incorporated PNGSDP is a non-profit firm tasked with developing the mines for PNG’s social and economic benefit. It was formed in 2001 and is based here so that it can remain independent and unaffected by any potential change in the PNG government, according to the country’s former prime minister Mekere Morauta, who is the PNGSDP board chairman.

A third of the annual dividends from the company that runs the mines – OK Tedi Mining – was to be used for a fund to support PNG development projects while two- thirds were ploughed into a long- term fund to benefit PNG after the mine closed. PNGSDP owned 52 per cent of the shares in OK Tedi while the PNG state owned 20 per cent.

The judge noted that at the end of 2012, the development fund contained US$158 million (S$217 million) while the long-term fund had US$1.35 billion.

PNG claimed PNGSDP had amended its Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A) in 2012 without state consent.

The state is suing PNGSDP for failing to provide an account of all its dealings with its assets, claiming PNGSDP had dealt with them in breach of new programme rules.

In denying the allegations, PNGSDP is counter-claiming that the state’s purported removal of PNGSDP’s directors and CEO in October 2013 was void and they had full authority to run the business.

In the run-up to the pending main suit, the state sought this court order to access PNGSDP’s books.

PNGSDP, defended by Cavenagh Law lawyer Nish Shetty, argued the state had no right of inspection and, even if it did, the right did not include the documents sought.

Wong Partnership lawyer Koh Swee Yen countered that the state must succeed, “especially in the light of the many admissions PNGSDP has made to the effect that the state has a right of inspection”.

Justice Prakash found there was an enforceable collateral contract between the parties that incorporated the M&A as part of its terms. “This point is relatively uncontroversial,” she said, in allowing the accounts inspection but making clear the minutes of meetings and disputed papers involving gifts or sale of subsidiaries and assets were excluded.

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