K800 million is being spent to enrich the Port Moresby club of politicians, construction companies and hoteliers. And all under the guise of playing host to APEC – an international organisation that promotes the same colonial economic policies that have failed Papua New Guinea for the past 30 years.
APEC is a business club that wants to continue to exploit PNG’s rich natural resources for its own benefit; that wants to continue to boost our false export economy at the expense of the real mainstream economy that is based on rural enterprise, local markets and honest endeavour by village people living on and working their own land.
Development does not come from outside, as APEC and its supporters claim and it does not trickle down from large-scale resource extraction; real development has to come from within – by supporting small local businesses and rural agriculture, not building flashy infrastructure in Port Moresby for the elites to enjoy.
Imagine what could be achieved if all the effort from politicians and bureaucrats that is going into organising the APEC summit was being put in to improving our health and education services or agricultural extension work? All those hours of effort by public servants, all that coordination and all that support from overseas?
Imagine what K800 million, spent wisely could do for rural infrastructure and transport?
Seeing it all wasted on opening up PNG to more foreign exploitation is not just sad, it is a crime!
Piers Akerman: PNG waste stretches neighbourly concern
PIERS AKERMAN, The Sunday Telegraph
GLOBE-trotting fashionista Foreign Minister Julie Bishop needs to explain why Australian taxpayers are bankrolling Papua New Guinea’s vanity projects when that nation is economically febrile — if it has not already fallen into the pit — and our own economy is wallowing.
Numerous companies doing business with the PNG government have not been paid monies owed, the government itself has not met bills for its own instrumentalities, and we are picking up the cheque.
Last week both the PNG Parliament House and the Governor-General’s residency had their electricity cut off because of more than $320,000 in unpaid bills.
A former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, who retired five years ago, said he may re-enter politics at the election due in July-August to fight what he says is “the growing web of corruption, abuse, and poverty the country is trapped in” and deal with growing levels of public debt — more than 33.5 per cent of GDP, on conservative IMF figures.
He detailed a growing list of other concerns, including the mortgaging of future income to debt repayment, depriving basic services such as health and education of proper funding, the recession in the non-mining sector, with people losing jobs daily and businesses cutting expenditure to the bone, and poor job prospects for school leavers.
He said the government is not paying businesses for services provided, which in turn leaves companies struggling to pay their own bills and staff, the value of the kina is declining and prices rising and that there is nothing to show from LNG, oil, gas, gold and copper wealth, apart from glamour projects in Port Moresby.
“Where is all the money, people wonder,” he said.
Sir Mekere said there had been severe budget cuts to health and education, that teachers, doctors, health workers and policemen were not being paid properly or on time and that universities — UPNG, Unitech, Goroka and Vudal — were being starved of resources, yet the government is building a new one in Ialibu, where only the principal building contractors will benefit.
He said there had been a breakdown of the machinery and system of government, and a weakening, destruction and politicisation of institutions of state.
He accused Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government of dictatorship-type rule which threatened democratic principles and practice, with the PNG parliament being used as a rubber stamp and said there was a lack of respect for the rule of law with heavy interference in law and justice agencies, threats to media personnel and suppression of media freedom and a crushing of dissent and violent treatment of student protesters.
“People see no sign of the root problems being addressed. People are afraid that the situation will get worse if the roots are allowed to rot further.
“People are telling me that they want a new government after the election, with a new leader,” he said.
“I chose to retire from politics five years ago. I am enjoying my retirement.
“I am enjoying spending time with family and friends, boating, fishing, reading, travelling, maintaining a continuing oversight of PNGSDP (Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program) and contributing to society in other ways.
“But I feel the concern of people. I hear what they are saying. I share their fears.
“More and more I find it difficult to ignore the growing chorus everywhere I go — in markets, shops, offices, restaurants, from academics, business leaders, public servants, professionals, market sellers, policemen, former MPs, current MPs, intending candidates, men and women I pass in the street,” he said.
Australians should care, too, because despite PNG’s frequent claims of economic and political independence it is always begging for more Australian aid.
Most recently, Australia pledged an extra $100 million to underwrite a continuing Australian Federal Police presence in PNG during next year’s Port Moresby-based APEC conference.
Last week New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, the man who gave NZ’s backing to last year’s anti-Israeli resolution at the UN in December, pledged his country’s support to PNG for next year’s APEC summit.
Both Australia and New Zealand would claim that they are providing support to PNG to head off the massive inroads China is making into the economy of our nearest neighbour but neither government seems interested in addressing the problem of corruption.
Earlier this month two senior ministers were suspended after they were accused of benefiting from the purchase of land by a government corporation. The land, 10km from the sea, was bought for a naval base.
Both the Minister for State Enterprise William Duma and the Defence Minister Fabian Pok are being investigated by the police and the Ombudsman Commission.
Duma is the minister responsible for the government corporation which purchased the land but is alleged to also own or have a proxy interest in a parcel of land owned by the corporation.
Pok is accused of appointing his brother-in-law as the Secretary of Defence and of being inappropriately involved in directing the department to purchase the land. Both men deny the allegations.
Corruption claims in PNG are nothing new but Australian and New Zealand companies are complaining that their bills aren’t being paid while their respective governments are handing even more money to PNG.
As the number of PNG ministers investing in homes in Australia continues to grow, an investigation by Australia into the manner in which grant money is being spent is long overdue.
In a blatant abuse of position, MP for Madang and Minister for Petroleum, Nixon Duban, has successfully lobbied for two controversial commercial leases to be granted to a company, Dawan Investment, to which he has strong personal ties.
Nixon Duban is a member of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s People National Congress party and a former executive officer for the PM.
Nixon Duban’s sister, Debbie Duban is the treasurer and vice-chair of Dawan Investment, the beneficiary of the leases:
Dawan Investment was set up in 2013 by Nixon Duban’s electoral officer, Collins Iwap. Iwap signed the application for the registration of Dawan Investment and was initially a company Director:
Dawan Investment is 50% owned by Stanley Kaut, who works in Nixon Duban’s Ministerial office and 50% by Lamak Katit, a relative of the Minister.
Dawan Investment has its registered address at Section 33, Allotment 01, Sogeri Road, Port Moresby. An address it shares with another company, Penquin Real Estate for which Barbara Ali Duban is a director. Lamak Katit also owns 50% of Penquin Real Estate.
None of these connections were revealed by Nixon Duban when he wrote personally wrote to Lands Minister Benny Allen, urging him to grant two commercial leases over 8 hectares of Cleland Park and 2 hectares of green space opposite the Holy Spirit Cathedral and consent to the leases being transferred to Dawan Investment:
The leases were duly granted by Minister, Benny Allen on December 8th.
It is not known whether Nixon Duban ever declared his interest in Dawan Investment to the Madang District Development Authority, but it seems very strange Dawan has been entrusted by the Authority with the development of a ‘Mega Mall’, ‘office complexes’ and ‘residences’ for the APEC summit, when the company has a paid up share capital of just K2,000, has never filed an annual return and has no declared assets and no declared staff…
The Sir Donald Cleland Park in Madang and the green space opposite the Holy Spirit Cathedral are to be lost to commercial development. Lands Minister Benny Allen has granted commercial leases over the two pieces of land for development by a company called Dawan Investment Limited. The documents below show the sorry tale – including how the 2018 APEC Summit has been used to justify the land grab.
Mr. Antonio I. Basilio
Director APEC Business Advisory Council
32/F, Zuellig Building
Makati Avenue Corner Paseo de Roxas
Makati City 1225 Philippines
Dr Alan Bollard
35 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
RE: APEC Business Advisory Council Member Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng
Given the APEC Leaders strong stand on fighting corruption as evidenced in their recent Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption;
Given the APEC Leaders recognition that corruption impedes economic sustainability and development, threatens social security and fairness, undermines the rule of law, and erodes government accountability, as well as public trust;
Given the APEC Leaders continued commitments to combat corruption across all sectors, including public sector and private sector, in the Asia Pacific region;
We wish to bring to your attention the antecedents background of the APEC Business Advisory Council member for Papua New Guinea, Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng.
Mr Tjoeng is a shareholder and director of the PNG registered company, Garamut Enterprises. Mr. Tjoeng holds 17.5% of the shares in the company. The other shareholders are all members of Mr. Tjoeng’s family. Mr. Matthew Tjoeng shares the Board with four other members of the Tjoeng family. Garamut Enterprises is a Tjoeng family owned and controlled company.
Garamut Enterprises has been exposed in official investigations and reports in Papua New Guinea as being involved in at least fives instances of illegal activity – two involving illegal payments and three illegal land transactions:
- ONE: Garamut received K28,000 illegally paid out of the government’s Cocoa Stabilization Fund without Ministerial approval.
Source: Report of the Auditor General 2010. Download as a pdf
- TWO: Garamut received K137, 797 illegally paid for ‘Pagui Ambunti District Treasury Office Building’. The payment did not follow procurement process. Information and accounting documentation was not available.
Source: Public Accounts Committee Report to Parliament on the Inquiry into the Sepik Highways, Roads and Bridges Maintenance and other Infrastructure Trust Account. Download as a pdf
- THREE: Garamut was granted a state lease over Portion 2399 by the Lands Department despite the fact this is substantially customary land situated at the top of Burns Peak. The lease was illegally exempted from advertisement which meant no competitive tender and no revenue to the State.
Source: Public Accounts Committee Report to Parliament on the Inquiry into the Department of Land and Physical Planning.
- FOUR: Garamut was granted a business commercial lease over Lot 23, Section 71, Hohola in 1999, which was originally zoned open space. The NCD Physical Planning Board had initially rejected the application, claiming it was too close to residents, and should be developed as a public park. The Minister for Lands overruled the Board and the lease was eventually granted. Judge Sheehan has stated:
“From the time Garamut’s application was lodged the processing of the application failed totally to follow the requirements of the Land Act. The breaches were gross, a travesty, to the extent that it can be said the Act was not followed at all. But further, to the extent that the Minister made a disposition of State land which was not open to scrutiny but removed from the public without the sanction of the Act, granted private access to State land, conferring an advantage, particularly a commercial advantage on a single applicant without reason, the grant clearly is not only outside the scope and purposes of the Act, unreasonable and unlawful, it is a fraud on the Act itself. The grant in fact was a nullity and no lease, no interest in land, no title was issued in accordance with the Act”.
Source: Steamships Trading Company Ltd v Minister For Lands and Physical Planning  PGNC 11. Available online
- FIVE: Garamut was granted a lease over customary land (Portion 2585) in 2008 through an Urban Development Lease. Judge Kandakasi has stated:
“Despite the lack of any acquisition by the State of Portion 2585, people in the Department of Lands facilitated and enable the grant of the UDL in favour of Garamut over Portion 2585. In so doing those who were responsible in my view, did so fraudulently against the traditional or customary owners of the land. Sitting in the National and Supreme Courts for a while now, I have come across more cases of possible fraud facilitated by the Registrar of Titles and other officers of the Department of Lands. This must stop and the only way to do that is to have proper investigations and those responsible being criminally charged and proceeded with. I would therefore strongly recommend (since I cannot direct the police) that the police take the relevant and necessary steps right away”.
Source: Loa v Kimas  PGNC 209. Available online
It is also noted that Garamut Enterprises is registered in PNG as a ‘local company’ despite 86.5% of its shares being held by Australian citizens.
In the light of the above facts Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng is clearly not a fit and proper person to serve on the APEC Business Advisory Council. Further, by occupying that role Mr. Tjoeng undermines the APEC commitments to fighting corruption.
On behalf of The People of Papua New Guinea