PNG Post Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Dec. 17, 2010) - It is true that Sir Michael Somare had been a great political leader in shaping and unifying our country.

Yes, this is true purely from a political sphere. In this context he had been an exemplary leader.

However, with regard to real economic development, he did too little when he should have done more.

The naked truth is written all over our country and we can see it.

He had the gigantic and world-class Panguna copper mine that was generating hundreds of millions of kina annually.

This was followed by Ok Tedi copper mine and subsequently Misima and Pogera gold mines.

Our population up to the 1990s was only less than 4.5 million-kina [US$1.7 million] and law and order problems then were not as worse as today.

So what happened to the billions of dollars generated by these projects? What thwarted economic development, particularly significant capital investments in public national infrastructure?

These were world-class projects, big enough to build Port Moresby to the level of an international city with the best modern and world-class infrastructure and excellent road network system.

Our Capital remains a ghetto.

Kutubu oil project came on stream much later in 1992.

I think Sir Michael Somare and leaders at his time had little knowledge or concern about quickly building the economic platform for our young country.

The Highlands Highway being the economic backbone of our nation should have been built to the highest standard with six or eight lanes. This highway now lies in tatters.

Sir Michael was Prime Minister four times and has held many senior and influential portfolios during his 40 plus years of political life.

As Prime Minister, he was too indecisive in making crucial decisions to promote and grow the national economy. Simply, he was utterly incompetent, indecisive and apathetic as far as economic development was concerned.

Look at the deal he and his so-called economic ministers have secured for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the PNG LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) Project. What a shame.

The last eight years of Sir Michael’s reign as Prime Minister was a period marked by unprecedented high world commodity prices particularly crude oil and minerals.

PNG has earned tens of billions through foreign exchange earnings.

What has his Government done in terms of translating these huge windfall revenues into wealth creation and efficient delivery of services to the people of Papua New Guinea? Absolutely nothing!

Yes, Sir Michael was and is a good man. He is a true nationalist.

But it is also true that he fell short in carving a solid foundation for PNG’s economic prosperity.

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