PNG GOVERNMENT WILL ENSURE FAIR RETURNS FROM PRIVATIZATION SELL-OFF

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 19, 1999 – The National)---The Government will ensure a fair and open sale of assets to benefit all Papua New Guineans, Acting Prime Minister John Pundari said yesterday.

Responding to Opposition Leader Bill Skate's claims that Papua New Guineans would lose billions of kina through privatization of state enterprises, Mr. Pundari said such remarks were untrue and counter productive.

He said the Privatization Committee held a briefing process on its progress on Monday and there will be other briefings and further consultation with all stakeholders, including employees and customers of these enterprises.

Mr. Pundari said the Government was united in its desire to protect the interest groups and it was determined that Papua New Guinean investors and entrepreneurs would be encouraged to participate in the purchase of these assets.

"That is something else that Mr. Skate has forgotten. This will not be a process that serves the interests of a handful of rich and powerful people as was the case in previous governments," Mr. Pundari said.

He said the Government had no choice but to privatize government enterprises because they had been wrecked over the years.

The services that these businesses once provided had been made so expensive that ordinary people could no longer afford them, Mr. Pundari said.

"Privatization will restore these services to ordinary Papua New Guineans," he said.

"Competition will ensure that they are provided efficiently and cheaply. Growth of the broader business sector will ensure that more jobs are available, that the price of services will fall and new services will be provided."

Mr. Pundari added that donor countries, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank, as well as businesses and Papua New Guineans, have endorsed the Government's moves.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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