A WORRISOME SCENARIO FOR PNG’S MASSIVE GAS PROJECT

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

Determination counts for a lot in this busy world and that ingredient in human nature is coming to the fore in the Papua New Guinea’s Government handling of the LNG project.

The latest revelations on this huge development are that the Government’s own vehicle, Petromin, will be sidelined and that the umbrella company for state enterprises, the Independent Public Business Corporation, will take full command.

Legislation reportedly ready to be tabled in Parliament would take Petromin right out of the picture and put IPBC, controlled by Minister Arthur Somare, right at the helm of the LNG vessel.

Many will see this is funny or unusual or even disturbing seeing as Petromin was supposedly set up to be the Government’s vehicle in such projects.

It was set up under the Prime Minister’s wing so to speak and with Sir Michael Somare’s former top adviser Joshua Kalinoe as its chief executive.

But Petromin appears to have lost its allure for the Prime Minister and a majority of ministers in Cabinet.

Only the insiders can know exactly how and why the chips fell IPBC’s way.

Certainly Petromin and the Treasury appear to have done the wrong thing by either standing in the way or giving advice that did not meet with approval on the LNG project.

Treasury Secretary Simon Tosali was verbally chastised by leaders when in fact he was only giving his professional advice in a confidential letter form to the IPBC head Glenn Blake.

It was not his fault that the correspondence was leaked to the media, although some tried to tar him with the brush of guilt. He has been pushed to one side, as has Mr Kalinoe and his team.

The Blake-Somare approach appears to have won favour in the right places and if the legislation goes through as expected, PNG will get the financing via a bond issue through an Arab investment company and put the State’s Oil Search equity on line through a deal that could be a glorious success or a debt burden to the nation, depending on the state of finances in the next five years.

It is a big play and almost certainly the Prime Minister will not be on the main stage when the results come in.

However the other main players will be around and the nation will portray them as heroes or villains.

We appear to be sliding through the global tempest with wind in our sails, but the worst is yet to come. Let us hope the LNG deal works out well

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