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ARTHUR SOMARE SOLD PNG OUT ON LNG DEAL

ONECOUNTRY


The problems of LNG Landowners are long time in the making, not just of this LNG Project. The attitude of government in not conducting social mapping and sitting down with its own citizens and determining land boundaries, trupela landowners, exact nature of and bundle of rights applying to various groups in respect of project areas and pipeline corridor, is not new. In the past it has been just shoving matters down the throats of people.

The Kutubu and the Gobe Projects are clear examples. In respect of the Gobe project, the government instead of resorting to social mapping prior to granting Development license, it bulldozed it and forced the people to camp in Port Moresby fighting over who owns what.
They never had a chance to negotiate their equity or royalty rights. It then locked up their meager royalties and forced the people to enter into serious debt living in the corridors of court houses trying to determine who owns what- something the government should have done as a responsible government.

It did not do the Landowners, and the Developer any favors to have this mess thrust upon them by the idiotic policies of people like Joseph Gabut, former Secretary of DPE and Francis Damen, former Attorney General. Sir Arnold Amet has now inherited the mess from these knuckleheads, who used the plight of the people to amass great personal wealth to the tune of Millions of Kina our of the royalties parked in government trust accounts.

It was Gabut and Damen who dreamt up the great idea of a Ministerial Determination to give the royalty monies away to wrong landowner groups in the case of Gobe. Kaiabe, as a responsible Leader, in response has always insisted upon proper social mapping and cost-benefit analysis by the state as mandated by the Constitution, the Oil & Gas Act and the Organic Law on provincial and local LEVEL Governments prior to grant of any development Licenses. The manner in which Arthur Somare ( and a few select MPs) went about negotiating this LNG project and financed it was wrong and fraught with suspicion. Arthur & Co signed the Gas agreement without going through Mandatory processes and Cabinet Approval as required by law.

Arthur thought he was smart, and left the whole Bureaucracy out. He did not follow a process that was transparent. As Minister of a sovereign nation he ran alone, and he camped in the Boardroom of Exxon Mobil, an act that was far below that which is expected of a State Minister, as his own father will advise him. Having so camped, he flew to the middle East and put the States financing instruments together, at great expense to the State. He then offered the State's assets as collateral for these murky financing deals that he struck behind closed doors. Only he knows who gave what and who got what, but out of the sausage machine came Kroton, LBSA, and State Obligations to pay Hela and other Southern Highlands Landowners Hundreds of Millions of Kina in public funds.

Arthur had to cover up whatever he did, by bribing the Landowners through the LBSA process. Mind you, to commit public funds of the whole country to a few people for a resource that is already owned by the State is not only stupid policy, and policy suicide, by any government, but is likely to be unconstitutional- it is discriminating against the rest of PNG. Besides, young Arthur in his rush, refused to or failed to realize other sources of funding of the LNG project at very very competitive rates and without holding this nations assets by the balls. Japan, for instance was always ready to grant us project finance on bi-lateral levels at less than 1% interest. [ i have the evidence of their offer ] What Arthur did was effectively sold us out at interest rates in the vicinity of 10%plus plus.

So now, the question is for National Leaders of good standing like Alfred Kaiyabe, what is the responsible thing to do? Take Arthur Somare to court? This he cant because they come from the same political party. Use someone like Peter Donigi to undo the whole thing? Yes but that's all too hard and may send us down a slipper slide to who knows where. Cause a bit of commotion so that we can get a better deal, that is the likely approach. In all these it is to be borne in mind that the people of PNG have been long suffering, innocent victims of the stupidity of the young inexperienced leaders, and equally young inexperienced bureaucrats.

No matter which way we take this debate, one thing is for sure, we have to bear in mind the interests of all the 6.5 million people of this nation. That is why, I have been calling on Peter Donigi to open sensible debate, notwithstanding the stupidity of people like Arthur Somare & Co, urging Donigi, to play wedge politics with the interests of the whole nation is being equally irresponsible, and you become no better than them. Donigi & Co must move this nation to a higher plane than mere reactionary rhetoric, because the people of this nation deserve it. They don't deserve fools.
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