Why is the World Bank washing its hands of PMIZ?


The International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, has recently published an information sheet about its support for the development of Special Economic Zones in Papua New Guinea.
The information sheet concludes with remarks about the proposed Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) in Madang.
“Is IFC involved with the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone? No” says the information sheet
Then, to make it quite clear, it reiterates “IFC has not been involved with any of the arrangements for the PMIZ.”
This is a far cry from the information the  IFC was putting out in June 2009 when it confidently declared its SEZ strategy for PNG…
will also address the government’s plan to establish the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone promoting investment in onshore processing of regionally caught tuna.  The project made an important step forward yesterday when the PMIZ project’s National Management Committee and Technical Working Group, along with IFC representatives and members of the private sector gathered in Madang to plan the administrative, technical, and financial strategy going forward.
It is also very different from information on the World Bank website about the IFC SEZ Country Strategy for PNG (which is being implemented at a cost of US$580,000). There it is stated the strategy will
in particular advise on the economic and legal conditions necessary for the eventual successful implementation of the proposed first SEZ, to be known as the Pacific Marine Industrial Park.
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency said this about IFC and PMIZ in September:
PNG is working with the International Finance Corporation – a branch of the World Bank – to develop a ‘Special Economic Zone’ (SEZ) law. … Originally conceived for the PMIZ, the SEZ law has been broadened to be applicable across the country and for sectors beyond those related to fisheries products.
So, why is the IFC now trying to distance itself from the PMIZ project when obviosuly this was where its whole SEZ based relationship with the PNG government began only 18 months ago?
Is it because PMIZ is being built with public money through a loan from the Chinese government, which contradicts one of the IFC’s basic prerequisites – private financing – for a successful SEZ?
Is it because the IFC conducted a study that said the PMIZ should be built in Lae not Madang?
Or, is it because the World Bank can see the social and environmental catastrophes that the PMIZ will cause and is already trying to distance itself from the enevitable backlash?
Underlying all of this is the bigger question, if the IFC is so convinced SEZ’s are a good idea for PNG why is it NOT supporting PMIZ, which, after all, will be PNGs first SEZ?
Come on IFC, tell us why you are washing your hands of the PMIZ?

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