O’NEILL AND POWI SET UP LNG DEVELOPMENT LEVY SLUSH FUND
by MICHAEL J PASSINGAN
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Southern Highlands Governor William Powi have set up a secret slush fund using the PNG LNG Development Levies intended for the Southern Highlands Provincial Government and LLGs.
The money going into the slush fund is supposed to be paid by the PNG LNG operators direct to the Provincial Treasury.
Instead O’Neill and Powi are diverting the cash into a secret account to be set up under NEC decision No. 70/2016 on 22 March this year.
The decision was signed by Mr O’Neill, who is recognized internationally as the most corrupt politician in the Pacific.
Grave fears are held for the security of the funds, which rightfully belong to the Southern Highlands Provincial Government and project landowners.
The Development Levy is 2% of the wellhead value of all production from PNG LNG, and by now amounts to hundreds of millions of kina.
The NEC decision states that the Provincial Government should set up the account with a “third party financial institution”.
But there are no provisions for the structure of the account, who the signatories are, and whether there are to be any independent watchdogs.
Nor are provisions made for auditing the account or making details of any transactions pubic through annual reporting.
What is very alarming is the fact that the NEC decision shows that the financial institution will provide a line-of-credit facility to fund development spending.
Most development funds of this type conserve the capital flowing in and use only the interest to pay for development projects, leveraging the amount by partnering with experienced development agencies and concessional funders.
The lack of detail provided in the submission, the secrecy with which it is shrouded, and the lack of transparency and accountability provisions are typical of O’Neill and his cronies
The account has all the characteristics of a special slush fund to be controlled by O’Neill and Powi for their own benefit.