A press statement from the Prime Minister’s office may have been released without official approval. The statement went into some detail about what was reported to have been discussed during a meeting between Prime Minister, James Marape and Chinese Ambassador to PNG, Xue Bing.
The main revelation contained in this media statement refers to the PNG Prime Minister requesting for China to help re-finance a K27billion debt; with facilitation to be led by the Bank of PNG and the China People’s Bank.
PM Press statement included this refinancing request to China; the upcoming 3rd China-Pacific Islands countries Economic Cooperation Forum to be held in Samoa in October; and the forthcoming PIF Post Dialogue Forum meetings to be held in Tuvalu, this month.
The Prime Minister was quoted in the statement as saying he had suggested for Chinese investment in agriculture and fisheries to look at downstream processing centres.
“I also suggested for Chinese investment in the Agriculture and Fisheries sector, and in particularly establishing down streaming processing plants for products in forestry, fisheries, mining and petroleum, and general food production and supply in PNG,” PM Marape said.
The statement also saying the Chinese Ambassador had asked for PNG backing to support China’s intention to speak at the PIF Post Forum Dialogue Partners meeting where China is anticipating delivering a statement on strengthening its relations in the region through economic development assistance and climate change.
The meeting pointing to the Marape–Steven Government strengthening its ties with China post the much-publicised recent Australia visit that saw Australia commit more in development aid to PNG and a country economic strategy to better relations
Today the Prime Minister released another statement explaining that the statement which had been released to the media, may have been misleading.
“It has come to my knowledge that a purported press release from my office on request for China-based financing facilities to refinance heavy and expensive debts up to K27 billion the O’Neill led government has racked up.”
The statement going on to state that his government was not only looking to China and his government relations.
“It’s not just about China or neither the West, including Australia.
“We have a country to run and our national interest will take precedence with numbers, rates, and statistics influencing my Government’s decisions including the best terms for loan refinancing if need be, but at the moment we as whole of government have not approved this pathway yet, and someone has run ahead to the media without my consent or knowledge.”
The Prime Minister went on to state he had “directed the treasurer to to get his Department to do a profiling on all loans currently running to ascertain their performance to the economy as well as put a stop to more borrowings and loans until we are satisfied that the project cost benefit analysis establishes return on the loans that we might secure.”
In either ways it may seem the Marape-Steven Government is still making its stand on their foreign policy; “PNG is a friend to all, and enemy to none”.