The chairman of PNG Sustainable Development Program, Sir Mekere Morauta, is calling on the Prime Minister to stop twisting facts when making statements about the company.
The comments come after the Prime Minister’s remarks during Question Time on Friday, claiming Sir Mekere was a shareholder and Director for life.
Sir Mekere says the remarks were inaccurate and misleading. In a media release, Sir Mekere Morauta challenged the Prime Minister to prove his accusations about him being a shareholder and a Director for life on PNGSDP’s board.
Sir Mekere says PNGSDP is a company limited by guarantee, and such companies do not have shareholders.
The only benefits are board fees. He further clarified that he has a fixed term, like all directors, a reform he introduced along with a fit and proper persons test for directors, and as such, not a director for life.
Sir Mekere also said the recent changes to the company's Memorandum and Articles of Association were aimed at protecting the structure, independence and integrity of the company.
They were carried out in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association and did not require the consent of the State.
He brushed aside claims that PNGSDP had moved its operations to Australia. He said the company's offices in Singapore, Port Moresby and Daru were operating in their usual capacity. The company had, however, moved some files and equipment to a small Australian office for security reasons.
He further elaborated on the sale of Cloudy Bay Sustainable Forestry Ltd, and PNGSDP's attempts to sell its communications towers in Western Province.
Both decisions he says were forced on the company by the Prime Minister's expropriation, without compensation, of the Ok Tedi mine, and by what Sir Mekere refers to as constant attacks on the structure, integrity and independence of PNGSDP.
He says Ok Tedi was PNGSDP's sole source of revenue, and without that revenue, the company had no choice but to close or suspend its operations and projects.
He said PNGSDP got the best price possible – K40 million – for the Cloudy Bay project, after exhaustive negotiations with a number of prospective buyers. Sir Mekere questioned why the Prime Minister was so interested in the company.
Sir Mekere says PNGSDP is also committed to the best possible outcome for the Western Province communications towers project.
Expressions of interest were sought from Telikom, IPBC, Bemobile and Digicel. Only the latter two submitted bids and commercial negotiations are ongoing.
Asset sales are part of an orderly process undertaken by PNGSDP to protect value and services for Western Province people.
Sir Mekere said the directors of PNGSDP have a moral and legal duty to protect the company's assets and income.
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