Posts Tagged ‘Peter O’Neill’

Oro government leads in the fight against illegal land grabbing

April 16, 2014 2 comments


Gary Juffa opposition to SABL land grab exposes Peter O'Neill's inaction

Gary Juffa opposition to SABL land grab exposes Peter O’Neill’s inaction

While PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill sits on his hands refusing to cancel unlawful SABL leases and stop illegal logging, the Oro Provincial government is standing with its people against the Malaysian led land grab.

In a statement issued overnight, Oro Governor Gary Juffa has again committed his government to assist landowners:

“That the Oro Government stands by its people in fighting against land grabbing, illegal logging and is willing to support their court cases with its own legal team and attending as a party to all cases of such.

“We are also taking to task several companies who have obtained land illegally and will fight all this through the courts of PNG.

“My Government has placed a moratorium on all land dealings in Oro and it is still very much in force and will be with all dealings to be reviewed by a committee established at some time in the future.

“As for landgrabbers and their pokies playing, beer swilling, corridor walking scamming and scheming – Oro is closed for illegal business…we welcome genuine investors only…”

The position of the Oro Provincial government stands in stark contrast to the position of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who continues to protect the Malaysian logging companies who are making huge profits from their stolen timber.

Peter O’Neill has failed to implement the recommendations of the recent SABL land grab Commission of Inquiry which found the SABL leases had been unlawfully and fraudulently issued. The Commission recommended the unlawful leases be immediately revoked, but the Peter O’Neill led government has done nothing with those findings.


Peter O’Steal Strikes Again! – allegations USD$1.2 billion loan is corrupt

March 10, 2014 14 comments

Dr Patrick Onguglo

The Prime Minister Peter O’Neill (‘aka O’Steal) has personally and unilaterally directed that the State of PNG borrow US$1.2 Billion Dollars through international financiers syndicated by the Swiss UBS Bank, to buy 10% of Oil Search Limited (OSL) shares. It is believed this transaction is motivated by personal gain. Therefore, this loan is believed to be for a corrupt outcome. This corruption is perpetrated by UBS and other international banks lending the money.

PNG does not need the loan. It is Peter O’Neill who needs the loan for his own corrupt gain. He is using the country’s assets to obtain a personal benefit. This must be made very clear to the international lenders. On this basis no future PNG Government will be liable to repay the funds, lent for an illegal purpose.

As of this article the international lenders will be deemed to be aware of the allegations I make here.( I invite the Prime Minister to contradict me if he can).

This is not an ordinary share purchase (investment) made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the people of PNG. What I am about to reveal is only known to a few key people in government circles.

In 2013 Total, the French Petroleum conglomerate entered into a deal with InterOil Limited wherein it purchased 60% stock in InterOil with the intention to develop the Gulf/Elk-Antelope LNG Project. Total bench marked the price of the InterOil shares against the known oil and gas reserves of InterOil’s Gulf/Elk LNG reserves, and international price indicators.

InterOil was started by two men in this country, Phil Mulacek and Gayland Baker in early 1990s. These two men, one a Texan and the other from California walked into Port Moresby government offices with empty brief cases promising to build an Oil Refinery in PNG out of one abandoned by Chevron in Alaska. While Curtain Brothers offered the Motukea refinery, these two men with very slick marketing skills, and Gayland Baker’s position as a director of conservative Fuller Christian Seminary, gained the upper hand.

The rest is history, of the way they manipulated government decision making processes, public announcements, to gain every benefit, favour, approval, license and a free lift up in every other step of that company’s development.

InterOil today is testimony to how Phil Mulacek has carefully and deliberately manipulated the goodness of the people of PNG and their government, how he has ruthlessly and unscrupulously exploited the weaknesses of key leaders of PNG, to build a personal fortune worth several hundred Million Dollars for himself and his extended family. Mulacek has been ably assisted by Christian Vincent, the Frenchman, his brother-in-law who acts as Phil’s main go-to man who has also gained in the hundreds of Millions.

In a small town things can get a bit incestuous, as Christian Vincent’s long term girlfriend in PNG happens to be the Fijian-Indian Lady with the short skirt who is the CEO for Peter O’Neill insurance company. Peter O’Neill is no stranger to Vincent and Mulacek having had many private dinners and meetings over the years when Mr O’Neill was a Minister in the Somare Cabinet.

Having sold 60% of InterOil to the French Company for several hundred Million dollars, Mulacek and co have been holding out the balance of the shares of 40% for a price that is almost triple what the French have paid for per share previously. The French having pre-emptive rights could not pay the price that the Mulacek camp has been asking for the balance of the shares. Meanwhile the Gulf-Elk LNG Project is not going anywhere fast.

The Mulacek camp have been trying to play Total against Exxon and Oil Search Ltd, who both also expressed interest in a piece of the action. Mulacek had hoped Total would pay the price to own the whole lot or Exxon would pay a premium to participate. No one took the bait. Over the years people have become tired and weary of Mulacek and his antics, always trying to profiteer and gain unreasonably, when he came to PNG with nothing. The InterOil project could have been fully financial 5 years ago had Mulacek not been greedy and held out.

This game has developed into a stalemate with Total holding majority stock and cant fund the project until it took the rest of the stock. It required a game breaker.

This is where the creative genius of Phil Mulacek came to the fore once again, and perhaps for the last time against the people of PNG. He approached Peter O’Neill through the lady with the short skirt for a private meeting. In that meeting it was laid out to ONeill that someone should assist Oil Search Limited (who has expressed interest ) to buy the balance of the 40% shares in Interoil for the exorbitant price that even Total would not pay. That Oil Search Limited had already been sounded out on this, and provided someone funded OilSearch Limited for the price of the Interoil Shares they would do the deal to further fortify them against any corporate raid. The State of PNG taking the shares would surely be a poison pill for the Dubai based Arabs seeking to do a raid on OilSearch Limited. The aggregate agreed price for 40% InterOil shares and OilSearch 10% shares was in the vicinity of USD1.0 Billion with enough fat to go around.

What was put to O’Neill in that meeting was that if he could get the Government of PNG to borrow USD$1.2 Billion from international commercial lenders, and buy 10% of Oilsearch Limited shares, Oilsearch Limited would use the proceeds definitely to buy the 40% shares from Interoil at its ridiculous asking price, AND THERE WOULD BE A VERY TIDY KICK BACK OF USD$100 MILLION FROM MULACEK & CO TO ONEILL for making this happen.

This was the game breaker. O’Neill became the game breaker. He became Peter O’Steal.

Having shook hands on the deal in last quarter of 2013, Phil Mulacek has been working feverishly with Peter Botten of Oil Search Limited, to get international lenders to lend to the State this huge sum of money, while Peter O’Neill has been carefully moving the right people into right places to take the decisions for him, and to cover his arse in the State agencies. The last act was to move the Minister for Petroleum William Duma aside and put his own man Duban in place to approve the deal. O’Neill knew Duma would see through the deal as unfair, unreasonable and corrupt and not approve it.

Last week Peter O’Neill has had lawyers and Financiers and bankers camping all over town feverishly working to finalize the deal. The only Minister working closely with O’Neill to close the deal is Ben Micah, who will support O’Neill because he needs ONeill to turn a blind eye to his own stealing.

Most of the Members of Parliament in the Government side do not know about this very juicy and lucrative deal that is going down just this week.

In fact most of the Cabinet Ministers do not even know. The Opposition does not have the manpower or the resources to keep up with Peter O’Steall’s very active life of carrying on private business deals while pretending to be Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. Only a few people close to him only know some of the deals, but not all.

This Prime Minister has made more money using his position as Prime Minister of this country than any other leader in the history of this country, and that folks, is the understatement of the Century. Nothing over K10 Million passes the Tenders Board, for example, without the Prime Minister getting a look in first. His fingers are so sticky that it is now common knowledge among all his Coalition Party colleagues that this man is not good for PNG.

Papua New Guineans need to ask, and ascertain very clearly that:

1. The State does not need the 10% of OilSearch Limited Shares. Oilsearch Limited is a public company. It can bloody well raise its own money and buy the shares. When Peter Botten was first approached to buy the Interoil shares he baulked at the sale price as he knew what Total paid. Interoil was asking far too much. When he was again approached with State Offer, he realized it would be a poison pill to have the State to hold substantial shares in OilSearch, so he happily agreed. Oilsearch quickly overpriced its batch of 10% shares and was also gaining from the sale of the shares to the State. Everybody gains from the State.

2. The Deal and the Loan is not in the best commercial or financial interests of PNG and its economy. The Country has already pledged its assets, including the previous Oilsearch Shares (18%), to the Dubai based financiers of our LNG interests. Why borrow more to get into debt with Swiss Banks this time and park the interest encumbered (shares) in the same commercial entity (Oilsearch) that the Dubai lenders already have priority in call over? Putting all our LNG eggs (revenue stream) in one basket is not a wise move.

3. Why didn’t Peter O’Neill opt to use the money to allow the State to exercise its option to acquire 22.5% of the Gulf Elk LNG Project?

4. Why is Peter O’Neill helping to protect OilSearch which is a public company- unless there is a catch?

5. Has Peter O’Neill relied on a fair and commercial valuation of the shares of Oil Search Limited to justify the price, despite the prevailing share price? Where is the professional valuation?

6. Why is Peter O’Neill borrowing USD1.2 Billion to fund shares when the money can be best spent on health and education and infrastructure?

7. How can the PNG economy which is already burdened by debt and currently underpinned by 2 consecutive years of massive budget deficits afford to shoulder this huge debt burden? Why has Peter O’Neill further mortgaged our future?

8. Why has Peter O’Neill further exposed the PNG economy to the LNG Project. All the hopes of the politicians are on the LNG Project. This is a huge and monumental gamble; particularly because the State has failed to honour its agreements with the Landowners, and the State ( Arthur Somare) has failed to explain what happened to the 3% of the State’s 22.5% in the PNG LNG Project. What happened to the 3%? Mr ONeill was Finance Minister. He knows what happened to the 3% in the Dubai deal. Perhaps he can explain? The Landowners will not allow leaders to trick and mislead them anymore. They are wiser by the day.

9. Why didn’t Peter O’Neill allow the USD1.2 Billion to be borrowed by Kumul Holdings or National Petroleum Company or even the IPBC, for it to buy outright the shares of Interoil? Why gift Oil Search Limited this money at the expense of the people of PNG? Why does OilSearch have to own the InterOil Shares (thereby the Gulf-ELK LNG Project) when the State could easily acquire it and own it- and not for that price!

10. What is the underlying rationale and underlying value in the exorbitant price (of the loan) of the InterOil Shares? Who has done independent industry benchmarked valuations based on which Peter O’Neill has agreed with Mulacek to do this deal?

11. What is the nature of the Mulacek-O’Neill kickback and how was it designed to be delivered?

12. Is it true this major investment decision worth approximately K4 Billion was made by one man, Peter O’Neill, without Cabinet or Parliamentary approval or debate? If so then it is clearly an abuse of the office of the PM, and he should be referred to the Ombudsman for investigation.

There are many things absolutely and seriously wrong with this investment decision. The Prime Minister has no power to unilaterally commit this country like he has done with Manus Asylum seekers etc. It has become abuse of power. He has become dictatorial.

O’Neill is currently getting government agencies and Departments to approve this transaction for which even the Finance & Treasury officials and the Bank of PNG have not done any formal prior appraisal of this loan. He is trying to rail road the proper government agencies to approve this transaction, when they haven’t even done any proper evaluation of this loan against the country’s other commitments and debt levels.

I call on Ministers of Cabinet, Government Coalition Partners and Leaders to demand full briefing on this transaction, and all documentation on this transaction be tabled in Cabinet and Parliament for public scrutiny. I call on the Cabinet Ministers and coalition partners to block this stupid loan.

I call on Senior Ministers to feel sorry for this country and its people, to take their oaths to serve the people seriously. I call on responsible Ministers to stand firm and not endorse this deal even it means their sacking. It is time for principled leaders to stand up to this PM and his greed.

Already the PM has set it all up so that he does not sign any documents himself. He is using quiet pressure through other people including, once again Ministers Marabe, Polye, Micah and Duban to sign and endorse this deal that Parliament and Cabinet did not approve. Even if Cabinet approved it, it seems they would have been mis-informed. When the shit hits the fan, the PM will naturally go after these Ministers and once again, blame them, as he did with the Paraka deal.

This is a stupid deal, designed to benefit a few greedy and selfish people. IT MUST BE STOPPED!
The Prime Minister needs to declare his interest in this matter publicly and resign. He has taken far too much from this country and the small people. He has to learn that enough is enough!

No action to revoke illegal SABL leases while logging industry man Pruaitch in charge

March 6, 2014 2 comments
A cartoon from 2003 depicting Rimbunan Hijau control over PNG politicians

Patrick Pruaitch is one of many Rimbunan Hijau puppets in Papua New Guinea

There will be no action to revoke illegal SABL leases while Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch remains in charge of the Prime Minister’s response to the huge land grab.

Pruaitch has been a staunch defender of the logging industry for more than a decade and has been directly involved in many of its corrupt and illegal deals

In particular, Pruaitch is a committed supporter of Rimbunan Hijau, the biggest beneficiary of the illegal SABL land grab. Pruaitch has been personally implicated in many of RH’s illegal logging deals over the past decade – as we reveal below thanks to the investigations of Masalai i Tokaut.

The Prime Minister has appointed a Task Force of three Ministers headed by Pruaitch together with Benny Allen and Tommy Tomscoll to implement the SABL Commission of Inquiry recommendation that 66 of 72 SABL leases be revoked because they are illegal.

But six months after its appointment the Task Force has not revoked a single illegal lease and the reasons for its inaction are obvious.The primary beneficiary of the illegal leases are foreign logging companies who are using the leases as cover for their fraudulent logging operations.

The Commission of Inquiry found that:

With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’

In 2012 alone the value of the logs stolen for illegal SABL lease areas was K172 million – and that is just the value of the raw logs. Once sawn into rough timber the value of the logs multiplies four or five times.

Patrick Pruaitch been heavily involved in the corrupt world of the logging industry since been appointed Forest Minister by Michael Somare after the 2002 election.  Since then Pruaitch has personally orchestrated many of the corrupt and illegal deals – many of them involving Rimbunan Hijau.

Pruaitch was a much slimmer before he started feasting off Rimbunan Hijau

Pruaitch was much slimmer before he started feasting off Rimbunan Hijau

Pruaitch first came to attention in 2003 when the State conveniently paid K150,000 to the lawyer Pruaitch had used in a private matter defending himself against an election petition. The lawyer, Joseph Yagi, was also the lawyer for controversial logging company Concord Pacific which had an extensive illegal operation in Western Province. Read more – Ministers lawyer paid by the State.

As Forest Minister Pruaitch then refused to take any action after an internal government inquiry reveled six new illegal logging deals, the largest three of which involved Rimbunan Hijau – The Robber Barons are still here. Pruaitch also personally rejected a decision of the National Forest Board to award a new logging concession to a non Rimbunan Hijau subsidiary – Forest Minister Pruaitch beyond the law – and intervened to stop the Forest Board discussing sanctions against RH for illegal and unsustainable logging – Forest Minister Unlawfully Intervenes.

In January 2004, Pruaitch’s defence of an illegal logging operation in New Ireland was exposed as being full of lies and misinformation – Ministers explanation full of lies. Later the same year Pruaitch was exposed for lying to Parliament – Forest Minister lied to Parliament.

In 2005 an internal Forest Authority audit report found Patrick Pruaitch had stolen more than K20,000 from the public purse through double-dipping. The auditors described the Ministers conduct as “dishonest, unethical and improper’ – Ministers conduct dishonest and corrupt.

In 2006 it was revealed how Rimbunan Hijau was even writing Pruaitch’s media releases as Minister –

Other examples of the close relationship between Pruaitch and the illegal operations of Rimbunan Hijau are revealed in:

Given this appalling history is it any wonder that no action has been taken by the O’Neill government to revoke the illegal SABL leases?

Foreign logging companies still firmly in control in PNG

March 3, 2014 1 comment

Peter O’Neill’s handling of the illegal SABL land grab shows he is impotent in the face of Malaysian logging company control of PNG politicians and officials.

A cartoon from 2003 depicting Rimbunan Hijau control over PNG politicians

A cartoon from 2003 depicting Rimbunan Hijau control over PNG politicians including the current Minister for Forests

Twenty-five years ago the Barnett Commission of Inquiry blew the whistle on widespread corruption and fraud in the forest industry in Papua New Guinea. Today, our politicians still  remain under the control of foreign, mainly Malaysian, logging companies.

The 1989 Inquiry, headed by Australian judge Justice Barnett, famously described the logging companies as acting like robber barons:

 “It would be fair to say… they are now roaming the countryside with the self-assurance of robber barons; bribing politicians and leaders, creating social disharmony and ignoring laws in order to gain access to, rip out and export the last remnants of the province’s valuable timber.

Almost twenty-five years later, the recent 2013 SABL Commission of Inquiry into fraudulent agriculture leases has found nothing has changed:

 With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’.

The Special Agriculture and Business Leases are the latest mechanism used by the loggers to get access to valuable timber resources. They have been used to take control of over 5 million hectares of forest – more than 10% of Papua New Guinea’s total landmass.

The SABL Commission of Inquiry recommended 66 of 72 leases be revoked as they are illegal. But six months after receiving the Commissions reports the government of Peter O’Neill has done nothing to implement those recommendations.

As a result million of dollars worth of illegally felled logs are leaving the country every week, mostly destined for China.

Swiss company SGS, which says it assiduously monitors log exports, says the value of the raw logs exported from the SABL lease areas was K172 million in 2012. Once sawn into rough timber in China the value of the logs multiplies by a factor of four or five. It is used in the manufacture of furniture, decking and other products for markets in Europe and the USA.

The only thing blocking the implementation of the SABL Commission of Inquiry recommendation that the leases be revoked is the Malaysian logging companies who are reaping rich rewards from the illegally felled timber and the politicians and bureaucrats who are in their pay.

Clearly the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, if not a direct beneficiary himself of the loggers bribes, is to impotent or incompetent to break their control over our politicians and bureaucrats.

A boycott of Rimbunan Hijau shops and businesses is as relevant today as it has ever been

A boycott of Rimbunan Hijau shops and businesses is as relevant today as it has ever been

Corruption allegations at Department of Works

March 1, 2014 9 comments



The Department of Works and Implementation has been given a huge allocation in the 2013 and 2014 National Budgets. With the allocation and entrusting of such a huge amount of money comes great responsibility. Of all government departments and agencies, the departments of Works, Health and Education MUST receive the greatest scrutiny because they have received the greatest slice of budgetary allocations in recent years. Many times we focus on MPs and Ministers and overlook the implementers or public servants, starting with Department Secretaries.

Acting Department of Works Secretary David Wereh has been living a lavish lifestyle ever since his appointment in June/July 2012 to replace suspended former secretary Joel Luma. David Wereh who comes from Kuwi Village in the Koare LLG of the Ialibu Pangia District, Southern Highlands Province is another close associate and “wantok” of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. Word from sources close to the Acting Secretary is that he often receives orders and directives directly from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, bypassing Works Minister Francis Awesa. This link to the PM will be revealed in some stunning revelations below.

Some investigations into the business dealings of Mr Wereh reveal that the Business Name “G.J.D Trucking (6-107136)” was incorporated with IPA on 24 January 2012. The business is listed as being owned by Matilda WEREH, the wife of Acting Secretary David Wereh. For a “TRUCKING COMPANY”, it is also interesting that checks done at MVIL do not show any “trucks” or even “motor vehicles” owned by this company.

The Business has a bank account with Westpac Bank, opened on 17 February 2012. What is very interesting is that even though this “trucking business” does not have any vehicles registered under its business name with MVIL, the business has been receiving substantial amounts of money from very interesting sources. While some payments appear to be regular and may be related to the business, there are other “irregular payments” that seem highly dubious and suspicious. A number of these payments can be easily linked to companies that have tendered for and won road construction or road maintenance contracts. Regular “CASH” deposits of K9,900 have been made into the account apart from other amounts.

The payment that stands out as being very interesting is linked to L&A Construction; a company which many commentators on Social Media have alleged has business links with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. A tidy sum of K111,000 was paid into the business account of G.J.D Trucking at Westpac Bank on 1st May 2012, around the time L&A Construction won the bid for the re-construction of Marea Haus (Pineapple Building). Another BSP Cheque for K200,000 from an unidentified source was deposited into the account shortly after on 4th May 2012.

There are also stories of so many contracts handed out to paper companies owned by tribesmen, clansmen, cronies, supporters and wantoks of both David Wereh and Peter O’Neill for real or imagined “road construction” and “road maintenance” works in the Ialibu Pangia district of Southern Highlands Province. Companies of cronies and close associates of the Acting Secretary like 7th Star Hire Car Ltd (1-83470) registered on 30 May 2012 have close links and business deals with the Acting Secretary. Directors of this company are a PNGan Garry KANDIPA and Australian Paolo UCCHINO.

Sources have revealed that David and Matilda Wereh have had a sudden change in their lifestyle, ever since David Wereh was appointed Acting Secretary for Works in 2012. Their children have been sent to the most expensive international schools and frequent overseas holidays to Australia are part of what has become a lifestyle which many Department Secretaries or public servants cannot afford on their public service salaries. It is not unusual for them to carry around large amounts of cash and throw lavish parties, both in Port Moresby and back in their village. Christianity has been used conveniently as a cover as they portray the image of being committed Christians who give much money to the “work of God”.

There are so many other examples of how Acting Secretary David Wereh is using his position to benefit himself and his and the Prime Minister’s cronies and supporters. With direct access to the PM, Mr Wereh is seemingly untouchable by his Minister Francis Awesa who has been relegated to the sidelines. It is no wonder road construction companies are sprouting up like mushrooms all over Southern Highlands and particularly in Ialibu and Pangia.

There was also a deposit of K150,000 on 7 March 2013 into the account of G.J.D Trucking with the narration “B/- Ela Enterprise”. It is not known whether this is a business name or a company. A check with IPA online shows that Ela Enterprise Ltd is a company owned by Indians and based in Madang. If the company is into “Road Construction/Maintenance” or similar works, then the link may be drawn that this payment was a “sweetener” for the awarding of contracts.

It is interesting to note that this account with Westpac Bank was closed on 10th February 2014 after Government Agencies such as IRC and others began asking questions. IRC are encouraged to check further on the “business activities” of G.J.D Trucking to see if all their taxes have been paid for the funds that have been deposited into that account.

The public on social media are encouraged to CONTRIBUTE any information you may know. All relevant documentation relating to this “unofficial investigation” are on hand. Together with any new information contributed on social media, a file will be put together and forwarded to the relevant authorities to investigate further and take appropriate ACTION!! For a start, Acting Secretary David Wereh MUST NOT be confirmed to this position if the government of Peter O’Neill is serious about fighting corruption!

Landowners getting restless as PM refuses to revoke illegal leases

February 4, 2014 4 comments

Biggest Land Grab in PNG HistoryThere are reports coming in from around the country that landowners are becoming very frustrated and anxious over the failure of the government to revoke illegal SABL leases and restore more than 5 million hectares of land to its customary owners.

Commissioner Numapo says his Commission’s report is fueling the anger as it clearly spells out the leases are illegal, the landowners have been cheated and the leases should be revoked…

PNG Land Inquiry Commissioner wants action on flawed leases

ABC Radio Australia

The Chairman of Papua New Guinea’s land scandal Inquiry says action is needed to revoke flawed leases over millions of hectares of traditional land.

Three Commissioners took more than a year to investigate how 11 per cent of the country’s land mass was leased out and if landowners had given their consent.

Many of the leases are for 99 years.

In his first interview since the Inquiry finished Chief Commissioner, John Numapo, says it is clear 66 leases should be revoked and he expresses concern at the pace of government action.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Commissioner John Numapo

GARRETT: In the space of a decade more than 5 million hectares of Papua New Guinea’s traditional land was leased out under what are known as Special Agricultural and Business leases or SABLs.

The leases were meant for small agricultural projects but in many cases were used by logging companies, without permission of landowners, to get control over vast tracks of forest.

When Prime Minister Peter O’Neill presented the findings of the Inquiry to parliament, in September last year, he said the Inquiry had revealed a shocking trend of corruption and mismanagement.

The commisioners investigated 75 separate leases but because one of them Alois Jerewai failed to submit his report the Prime Minister was only able to present the findings for 42 leases.

Chief Commissioner John Numapo says, in the interests of landowners, Commissioner Jerewai needs to finish his report.

NUMAPO: He should have delivered his report because whatever the stated hiccough or financial difficulties that we experienced throughout the life of the Inquiry we all have gone through that and yet Commissioner Mirou and I were able to furnish our final report because we were given a deadline and that was made known to the whole lot of us. So really there is no real excuse for Commissioner Jerewai not to deliver his report. And I think that is the only setback, in my opinion, to what has been a very successful Inquiry.

Prime Minister O’Neill told parliament 38 leases had been found to be seriously compromised.

Commissioner Numapo, says even though Commissioner Jerewai has not reported his findings, it is obvious 66 of the 75 leases investigated did not have a legally valid certificate of alienability.

Mr Numapo says that means the government must revoke them.

NUMAPO: That is the only option that is available. The law is very clear on that. SABL process and mechanisms as covered under section 11 and 102 of the Land Act and the titles have to be properly issued. And if it does not comply with the process and procedures in issuing all these leases then obviously they have been unlawfully issued and therefore the only option is left now to the government is to have them revoked as per our recommendations and our findings.

GARRETT: No action has been taken to revoke the leases and the only action the government has taken so far is to refer the recommendations to an interdepartmental task force. Is the government moving too slowly?

NUMAPO: I would have thought so because the report was given to the government in June of last year and you know, it is almost probably 7 or 8 months now and the report has been tabled in parliament. And unfortunately it was only two reports, ah, but yes when the report was tabled in parliament I understand the Prime Minister made a commitment to ensuring the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry is implemented so we are all waiting on that to happen. Those recommendations have to be implemented because it is affecting the people and especially the customary landowners.

GARRETT: Are you concerned that the government is losing the will to act?

NUMAPO: As in everything else in PNG I think they will get to it one day but the sooner they move on it the better it will be. And I have seen recently in the local media that some landowners have got a copy of the report and are calling on the government to immediately implement the recommendations, particularly on the SABLs that have been unlawfully issued as there are findings and recommendations to have that lease revoked or surrendered, whatever the case is, and they have now called on the government to act on it and move quickly on it. So we will just wait on what the government might do in the next couple of months

Reading Between the Lines on PM O’Neill’s ‘Historic’ Bougainville Visit

January 30, 2014 3 comments

4saleMany would not have seen it among the ceremony and pomp that has accompanied Prime Minister O’Neill’s historic visit to Bougainville – it was the big ‘for sale’ sign O’Neill and Momis have just dangled around the island.

This is partly because O’Neill’s visit has been portrayed by a pliable media contingent as a historic act of reconciliation between PNG and Bougainville; the breaking of arrows. ‘Why here’, ‘why now’, are not words any one dares utter. But utter they should.

For the past three years the ABG has made its development strategy clear – the sell-off of Bougainville’s marine, timber and mineral resources to foreign investors. As a result President Momis has been busy in the Philippines and China enjoying five star treatment, while Asian investors eye Bougainville’s riches, along with the old-hand Rio Tinto.

But there is one problem niggling at the President, ‘stability’. If foreign investors are to be wooed, they need to be able to convince creditors that they are not about to park their funds in a black hole. As BCL’s Chairman recently told the Murdoch press in Australia:

When I need to raise the money for this mine, by going to banks and investors, wanting to raise billions of dollars, they’re going to say: “Tell me about Bougainville.” If Bougainville is the world’s newest nation, with no track record of managing projects, as opposed to PNG which has a long track record, it’s going to be easier to raise the money if Bougainville doesn’t go down the independence route. I wouldn’t even go to the market at this stage, because I can’t tell the market what they’re investing in.

Enter Prime Minister O’Neill. With concerns being increasingly raised about Bougainville’s stability as it approaches its independence referendum, O’Neill and Momis have entered a pact of convenience.

It needs to be said O’Neill is not hell bent on keeping Bougainville – he will respect the referendum decision – however, the PM certainly does not want an independent or autonomous Bougainville being a financial albatross around PNG’s neck for years to come.

On the other hand, Momis has had something of an economic conversion since becoming President, and believes only a fire sale of Bougainville’s natural resources to foreign investors will save his land from ruin.

Momis and O’Neill might not like each other (!!), but they know they need each other. If PNG is to be rid of the financial albatross, O’Neill believes he must assure the international community that whatever the outcome of the referendum, PNG will act as a mature friend of Bougainville. On the other hand, Momis has bought the AusAid mantra and thinks that only the wide-scale sell off of Bougainville’s resources will establish an economic future for his island, so Momis needs O’Neill to act as a mature guarantor foreign investors can believe in.

These are not necessarily well thought out or well supported strategies, indeed they may be the quickest route to wrack and ruin; but it explains the recent odd behaviour of Momis and O’Neill, who are what the kids call these days, ‘frenemies’.

SABL – An outstanding issue for PM O’Neill

January 24, 2014 2 comments

By Pasifika Media Wardrobes 

The Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) concept was found as a failed and illegal land scheme for Papua New Guineans and the many local landowners that underwent the concept of land leases.

Since the tabling of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the SABL in October 2013, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill promised that the reports were to be made public and action would be taken immediately.

Based on the findings and recommendations of the reports, Peter O’Neill himself labelled the SABL scheme as “a total failure to landowners” that involved a lot of illegalities, and he told parliament that his government will act on it.

But to date, that promise is not forthcoming, while many of the cases highlighted in the inquiry reports continue to carry on their illegal operations while landowners remain voiceless.

“A ministerial taskforce committee will be appointed to look into the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and will report to parliament,” said O’Neill when presenting the reports before parliament in October 2013.

But the status of the ministerial committee is unknown, and civil society organizations are still questioning the task of the committee.

On the other hand, Alois Jerewai (the commissioner who failed to hand in his report to parliament) gave his reasons for failing to meet the deadline set by the Prime Minister, adding that the COI was under-funded and it is reflected in the serious qualification to the COI report once allowed to be published.

“The Commission of Inquiry into the SABL received only K7 million out of the K15 million that the Prime Minister said it spent on this inquiry…I want to know where the other balance of K8 million was spent. It certainly was not spent on this COI,” said Jerewai.

The respective inquiry reports compiled by Chief Commissioner, John Numapo, and Commissioner, Nicholas Mirou, found that there was widespread abuse, fraud, lack of coordination between government agencies, failure and incompetence of government officials to ensure compliance, accountability and transparency within the SABL process.

The reports highlighted that throughout the course of the inquiry, serious allegations were levelled against officials and senior government bureaucrats involved in the management of SABL, with bribes and inducements being offered by project developers and representatives of landowner companies to procure SABL titles.

The inquiry also received evidence of undue political pressures being put on government officials by senior Ministers and politicians to fast-track SABL applications and issue titles. Incidences of political interference were numerous and were reported in respective individual SABL reports.

The reports overall findings pointed out that there was corruption and mismanagement, and lack of coordination by key agencies including departments of Lands and Physical Planning, Environment and Conservation, Agriculture and Livestock, Provincial Affairs and Local Level Government, Investment Promotion Authority, PNG Forest Authority, and the Forest Clearance Authority.The reports stated that the entire land management system in PNG is in a mess and recommended that the SABL process should be done away with or a workable policy be formulated on SABL that benefits local landowners.

It stands a sad fact that the Commission of Inquiry reports have not been made public, not even to those concerned, the landowners.

Executive Director of PNG Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker says he hopes SABL doesn’t become another issue that the Government sweeps under the carpet.

“There was a public outcry when the Government failed to hand in reports of the commission of inquiry, and after much pressure they were presented to parliament. And let’s hope there is action on the findings and recommendations set by the inquiry,” said Barker.

Executive Director of Partners with Melanesians, Ken Mondiai added that the Government must cancel all SABLs and hand over land titles to landowners.

“The inquiry has already found that most operations of SABL were illegal and the PM himself declared it as a miserable failure,” said Mondiai.

Tony Power, a local from East Sepik say 38 of the 42 leases mentioned in the report were fraudulently obtained by foreign companies “and they must be cancelled and returned back to the rightful landowners.”

“Local landowners have waited for far too long and it is almost over 10 years…their land and resources must be returned to them,” said Power.


Where is Alois Jerewai’s SABL land grab report?

January 10, 2014 3 comments

From ACT NOW! 

In September 2013 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill presented to Parliament the reports from two of the three Commissioners appointed to investigated the SABL land grab.

The reports revealed a web of deceit, mismanagement and corruption surrounding the allocation of SABL leases to foreign companies which, in many cases, the companies are using as cover for illegal logging operations.

But the reports presented to Parliament cover only 42 of the 75 leases referred to the Commission of Inquiry. The findings on the other 33 leases are contained in the report of Alois Jerewai which, 4 months later, has still not been released.

Many of the leases investigated by Jerewai are in East and West New Britain, a stronghold of Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau.

The Prime Minister, the Commission of Inquiry and Mr Jerewai are all failing the people of the PNG if they do not release the report.

Morobe police too scared to act against O’Neill associate

January 4, 2014 3 comments

A senior member of the Prime Minister’s Peoples National Congress party branch in Morobe  is yet to be arrested by police after he caused the death of a one teenager and seriously injured another.

Garrette Kissing a close associate of Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill and a relative of Community Development Minister, Loujaya Kousa was driving while under the influence.

Police have been too scared  to arrest Kissing for fear of possible reprisals. One traffic officer is reported to have said Garrette Kissing can’t be arrested because em “bikman tumas.”

Kissing is also reported to have called local media to prevent reports from being published.

He owns Red Rock a construction company that recently received a small road building contract from the government.


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