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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 7, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The government has asked the three bidders short listed to take a controlling interest in the government owned commercial bank, the PNG Banking Corporation, to submit their bids by Friday.

As Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports, PNG's privatization program is moving ahead despite a determined campaign against it, including student protests earlier this year in which three university students were killed.

"The three short listed banks -- two of which are already operating in Papua New Guinea and one from outside -- have been doing their own extensive due diligence studies.

"Up for sale is 51 percent of the PNGBC, a bank that has under performed because of regular political interference.

"The Chairman of PNG’s Privatization Committee, Michael Mayberry, says the three bidders have been asked to submit their bids by this Friday, November 9.

"He said, ‘We will evaluate them as quickly as possible and we’ve indicated that we would like settlement by the fourteenth of December. And that is so that we can complete it within this calendar year, which is the requirement of the Government and the World Bank."

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia News, Port Moresby."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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