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Pressure over PMIZ is making Minister Maru behave very oddly

July 6, 2015 6 comments

Maru flicks a mickey at the rest of the Pacific

Nineteen Years and Counting

Signs of panic can be found in the Department of Trace Commerce and Industry’s defense of the PMIZ of late. First, the bungled Summons against it public critics, which eventuated in Human Rights cases being lodged against the Department. Now rumours of rogue state behavior being expressed by Minister Richard Maru as he shops the project in Europe. Fellow-PNG Pacific Island countries have failed to sign up for the industrial zone despite terms favorable enough to be considered unfavorable to the host country. And now, despite professed loyalty to the PNA and the region, Maru is now shopping the boondoggle to European canneries, thereby jeopardizing everything the Partners of the Nauru Agreement stand for in the first place. Now we learn that Maru would risk all Pacific trade relationships to stand alone in the Interim EPA that exists between PNG and the European Union, rather than move toward a collective and comprehensive EPA alongside its regional neighbours.That’s a big F U to the other Partners of the Nauru Agreement and other Pacific Island States.If this is the extent to which Maru is willing to go, we only have to ask what he personally has at stake.Where is the money from the Exim Bank loan? How has it been acquitted? What accounting has been done on this US$95 million loan? Where is the investment to date?

We may be witnessing the desperate stratagems of a marked man. Will he barricade himself inside a Gold Coast mansion (purchased perhaps in a wife’s name, or that of a holding company with a perfunctory name)? Will he turn ‘State’s evidence’ against fellow PMIZ campaigners like Gabriel Kapris and Sylvester Pokajam, in an effort to save himself?

A couple of weeks ago, observers were prepared to find all manner of media slander against the 11 Defendants in the gagging order initiated by the Department of Trace, Commerce and Industry. But despite noises about sinister NGOs and anti-development conspirators, little has emerged to destabilize their credibility.

Now we enter a fugue state where Minister Maru is literally capable of saying anything to save his skin.

 Minister Maru enjoys the view from his personal plot in the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone

Minister Maru enjoys the view from his personal plot in the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone

Papua New Guinea has officially withdrawn from being a part of a Pacific island bloc to negotiate a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

Instead, PNG will continue trade discussions with the EU under the Interim EPA that it currently has.

Trade Minister, Richard Maru, made this announcement today saying this is done to safeguard PNG’s current trade arrangements with the EU and to further strengthen this relationship.

This announcement follows an intensive trip to Europe which started off in London with the UK-PNG Trade Investment Forum.

According to Maru, PNG is on a path to be on the EU’s good side and make PNG’s presence known in the European markets.

The strongest message PNG made was to announce in no uncertain terms that it is no longer interested in negotiating a comprehensive EPA.

“Papua New Guinea withdraws from all EPA negotiations, will not be part of any Pacific islands trade negotiating team, we will not attend any meetings as of today,” he said. Maru says this is to protect PNGs interest, most notably the K95 million PMIZ project in Madang. He said PMIZ is only “feasibly and viable ” because of PNG’s Interim EPA with the EU and PNG is not about to jeopardize that.

“In our talks we told the EU that, of the 10 canneries in Madang, 5 will be given to European companies.”

The discussions towards a more comprehensive EPA between the EU and 14 other Pacific Island countries have dragged on for 12 years.

In 2007, while the comprehensive EPA was still being negotiated, Fiji and PNG signed Interim EPA’s with the EU.

While this decision will affect other smaller pacific island countries, Director General for Trade, Ambassador Max Rai says the decision has been made.

“The (PNG) government has taken a stand now and we hope the message ripples right across the Pacific, that this (comprehensive EPA) will be a really wasteful effort. ”

Ambassador Rai said, they hope a comprehensive EPA with the EU will not be part of the agenda in the upcoming Pacific Islands Leaders Forum that will be in Port Moresby.

The other leg of the European tour was spent in Geneva, Poland and Brussels where talks were held with various prospective companies where discussions around downsteam processing were discussed.

The delegation was also on the lookout for companies in the field of telecommunication, shipping, banking and arilines to “drive the cost of business down” Minister Maru said.

 

MCC not the only major Chinese enterprise on World Bank corruption blacklist

November 17, 2013 3 comments

The PNG government should be wary about its new open door policy towards Chinese companies and loans.

Two years ago Chinese state-owned corporation MCC, operator of the controversial Ramu nickel mine in Madang, was exposed as having been labelled corrupt and blacklisted by the World Bank and other international banks.

MCC is clearly not the sort of company you want pumping millions of tons of toxic mine waste into your pristine marine environments. It is a shame Michael Somare did not do a better job of due diligence before jumping into bed with these particular Chinese!

In April we exposed the criminal antecedents of the China Harbour Engineering Company in Bangladesh, Cayman Islands and Jamaica – but in June Powes Parkop gave the company a K300 million contract!

But it appears the rot in China runs much deeper as MCC and CHEC are far from the only Chinese enterprises blacklisted by the World Bank for corruption and other unsavory practices.

The list also includes:

  • ZHEJIANG ZHEDA INSIGMA GROUP CO. LTD. (INSIGMA GROUP)
  • ZHEJIANG ZHEDA INSIGMA TECHNOLOGY CO. LTD.
  • ZHONGKE LIFE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD.
  • HEFEI HIGHWAY & BRIDGE PROJECT CO. LTD
  • DAQING OILFIELD HIGHWAY & BRIDGE ENGINEERING CO., LTD.
  • CHINA COMMUNICATIONS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LIMITED (as the successor or assign to China Road and Bridge Corporation)
  • CHINA GEO-ENGINEERING CORPORATION
  • CHINA STATE CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING CORPORATION
  • CHINA WUYI CO. LTD

It is not only the World Bank that has bared these companies for fraud and corruption. The companies are also on the blacklists of the Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Inter-American Development Bank.

PNG government beware!

Landholders beware!

O’Neill allowing China to cash in on PNG resources – and making us foot the bill!

September 26, 2012 15 comments

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill claims he is trying to improve the living standards of ordinary people and ensure they have access to basic services, but this is far from the truth.

Confidential government documents show that, just like his predecessor Michael Somare, O’Neill is not only being bullied by the Chinese to give them preferential access to PNG resources – he is using PNG tax payers money to subsidize the Chinese.

The O’Neill government says the controversial Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang province is one of its priorities to boost the national economy but has not revealed:

  • The USD79 million dollars it is borrowing from the Chinese to fund the project will be plowed straight back into the Chinese company building the PMIZ rather than being invested in PNG companies and people
  • China Shenyang International Corp has been contracted by the PNG government to design, build and supply equipment and materials for the PMIZ rather than the PNG government using local businesses
  • The total PNG government contract with China Shenyang International is for USD 95 million, which means PNG taxpayers will be directly subsidizing this Chinese company to the tune of USD16 million.

  • All the goods, technologies and services purchased for PMIZ will come from China – not PNG suppliers

  • China Shenyang International will operate completely tax free in PNG, exempt from any “rate, charge, duty or imposition of any kind under PNG laws” – a concession the PNG government NEVER gives to PNG businesses

The PNG government has also granted Chinese officials full and unlimited rights to examine and supervise the project funding including granting a long-term multiple entry visa to the Chinese loan officer.

The government has also “irrevocably waived” any sovereign immunity for PNG in any dispute over the loan, AND agreed while PNG may not assign or transfer any of its rights or obligations China has full rights to assign or transfer any of its rights and obligations!

Finally the PNG government has agreed the loan contract, although signed in PNG and to be effected in PNG will be “governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of China” – bet you don’t even know what those laws are do you Mr O’Neill!

 

Sali Tagau’s Savalon Security thugs at it again…

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Sali Tagau, boss of Savalon Security

People in  the Rempi and Kananam  communities Madang know all too well  Sali Tagau – the owner  of  Savolon Security.

On Thursday  (Oct 21st)  Sali and eight  of his  thugs accompanied by police burnt down more than 50 houses of people living within the PMIZ  project site [1].  More than 100 men women and children are now homeless as a result of his self serving  actions [2].

Tagau is a direct beneficiary of contracts dished  out by the former Commerce Minister Gabriel Kapris.  The thug is also understood to  be a pawn in a move to acquire offshore portions of land and beachfronts – land which belongs to the Kananam people.   He is backed by a group of Filipino nationals who are eyeing waterfront land portions in the Kananam and Rempi  communities.

Earlier this year, Sali Tagau and  another lot of his hired thugs tried to shout down Kananam man, Francis Gem at a forum organized by government  minister including Madang’s regional MP, Arnold Amet [3].   Francis  Gem  labeled Commerce minister Kapris and  environment  Minister Benny Allan, conmen following all the garbage  they spouted at a forum.

Sali Tagau will stop at nothing to get his “cheeze pops”  from the PMIZ project.   Who else is on  your list, Sali?  The Rempis  and the Kananams?

[2] http://australianetworknews.com/stories/201110/3345538.htm?desktop

Unwanted PMIZ people left homeless after police burn homes

October 20, 2011 2 comments

Houses burn at the PMIZ site

More than a hundred people living within the area identified for the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang are now homeless after their houses were burnt to the ground yesterday by police and members of a security company.

More than 50 houses were torched with the assistance of  members of the Madang based Savolon Security  company.  The policemen arrived in three 10-seater Landcruisers and began physically and verbally assaulting the men, women and children.

“My two girls were scared and tried to run away but the police swore at them and forced them to go into the house and pack our things,” one women said.

Another elderly  woman fell when  police hurried her into the house to remove her possessions. Several people also said police and security company people initially tried to force them to burn their own houses but they refused.  The eviction party also brought with them a  front loader  to demolish the houses. The driver had his face covered with a shirt to hide his identity.

Those who had their houses destroyed were brought in by the Filipino owned fish cannery, RD Tuna,  several years ago  to work on RD owned plantations. They were laid off  without any repatriation plans or  promise of work.  Later, when RD Tuna sold  200 hectares of land to the government for the controversial PMIZ project, the people were ordered  to leave the area.

People watch their homes burn

Former workers and their families say they’ve been unfairly treated.

“RD didn’t make it clear to us that we were not needed anymore,” said one former worker.  “We were told to stand by  and wait.”

RD Tuna’s record is less than impressive. In 2010, the company refused to pay  its workers the minimum wage set by the  government. It was only after a strike that the labor department stepped in to order the company to pay the wages.

The people are now caught between a former employer  that doesn’t want them,  landowners who want them gone and a new government project  that  has no place for them.  Earlier this year,  government representatives paid each family between K200 and K1000 and told them to leave the  PMIZ area.  Many can’t go home because the cost of airfares and ship tickets exceed the amount of money they were given.

National Alliance plans to turn Madang Province into Philippines style industrial zone

June 14, 2011 3 comments

Papua New Guinea’s ruling National Alliance party wants to make the Province of Madang into a Philippines style industrial zone using a combination of corporate tax exemptions and Chinese investment and labour.

The plan, which is championed by the Attorney General, and ex Madang governor, Arnold Amet, and current governor James Gau, was the focus of a recent trip to the Philippine’s by a delegation of bureaucrats and local leaders to the Subic Bay Freeport, established in 1992.

The National Alliance plan will see Madang become the mining capital of PNG with both the huge Ramu nickel and Yandera gold and copper mines pumping their toxic tailings in to the sea. Both mines are being developed by Chinese companies..

In addition the government wants to see up to 10 tuna canneries operating as part of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone. The PMIZ is to be built by another Chinese company using funds loaned to PNG by the Chinese Export-Import bank.

The PMIZ will be designated by the government as a Special Economic Zone which means it will offer generous tax exemptions to foreign companies and operate as a fenced enclosure with private security to prevent unauthorized access. With the Zone normal migration, labour, health and safety and environmental laws will not apply.

The plan for the industrialization of Madang by the Chinese is also backed by former National Alliance minister and local businessman Peter Barter, owner of the Madang Resort hotel and a passionate supporter of Chinese investment. Barter features photos of the Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine on the menu’s in his restaurants.

The delegation to the Philippines, the second to visit in the last two year, was headed by Provincial Administrator, Bernard Lange.

Also on the trip was Stotick Kamya, chairman of Commerce and Industry and former ‘community relations’ officer at RD Tuna; Nalon Derr, from Siar village, who ran for election in 2007 and is first secretary at the Governor’s Office; Emil Gamog, a ‘community representative’ who works closely with disgraced former governor James Yali and was involved in the hijacking of the plaintiffs in the Ramu nickel mine marine dumping case last year; Babob Gatedai, senior planner and Riwo village resident; Maryanne Uraiwa, project partner representative and manager, National Development Bank; Paul Martin, Industry and Investment coordinator; Mario Berom Angurru, Fisheries Advisor, Madang provincial government; and Clarence Hoot, director, Investment Promotions Authority.

After a similar trip to the Philippines in 2009, one local leader, Framcis Gem told his people that he had not been impressed with what he saw. He described the Freeport as a zoo which had displaced local people and polluted the sea. Gemn recently challenged Environment Minister, Benny Allan, and other Ministers at a public forum on PMIZ saying of PMIZ

“It’s con job! And all of you sitting on this grandstand are con people!”

“…Starting from our regional member [Sir Arnold Amet] right down… Benny Allan [Environment minister], you are a conman… Gabriel Kapris [Commerce & Industry Minister] you are a conman.”

“You talk about managing [environmental] impacts and waste from the PMIZ… you look at Ramu Nickel… You haven’t managed Ramu Nickel! How can you manage the PMIZ?”

Controversial Chinese miner and Aus mining magnate funding Env Minister’s re-election bid

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Chinese State owned mining company, MCC, owner of the controversial Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea, and Australian mining magnate, Clive Palmer, who has numerous close links with China, were prominent supporters of a recent fundraising dinner for the United Resources party of PNG’s Environment Minister, Benny Allen.

According to newspaper reports, the dinner raised K1.6 million and was described by URP strongman, Fred Wak as “a big night… a really good start for the URP’ as it builds towards the 2012 national election.

Palmer, a billionaire and one of Australia’s richest men, was easily the most prominent individual at the fundraising dinner. He has built his fortune on the rights to 160 billion tonnes of iron ore deposits in Western Australia.

As well as depending heavily on the Chinese government as his major customer and keeping a home in Beijing. Palmer has been described as “playing a pivatol role in the modernisation of China” and has recently announced several new investments with Chinese companies, including MCC, and funding from the Chinese Exim bank.

Palmer and his entourage arrived in Port Moresby in one of his private jets with Palmer declaring “there is a lot of opportunity here and the Government must create the right environment”.

Presumably the ‘right environment’ has little to do with protecting Papua New Guinea’s rich biodiversity and everything to do with approving mining operations, even where they involve destructive mining practices such as the marine dumping of mine tailings, which Benny Allen has approved for the Ramu nickel mine, leaving local landholders to fight the practice through the courts.

Allen has also approved the environmental permit for the Chinese Exim bank financed Pacific Marine Industrial Zone and will shortly be asked to give the go-ahead for the Yandera mine which will be constructed by another Chinese company, Chinese Nonferrous Metals, which also wants to dump its tailings in the sea.

Last year the PNG government was accused of passing controversial amendments to the Environment Act that protect foreign corporations from environmental damage claims and allow mining activities to be approved without consultation with customary landholders, to protect Chinese mining operations such as Ramu nickel.

Palmer knows a thing or two about political contoversy and corruption, having being close to disgraced Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson, a fund-raiser for his National Party and ‘one of its key powerbrokers”.

The United Resources Party is the second biggest political party in the current National Alliance led coallition government and has six MPs, three of whom are Ministers: William Duma (Minister for Petroleum and Energy), Benny Allen (Environment and Conservation) and Guma Wau (Culture and Tourism).

The fundraising dinner was also supported by Deputy National Alliance leader (Highlands) Don Polye, NA president Simon Kaiwi, former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu, Mining Minister John Pundari, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ano Pala.