Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Papua New Guinea’

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 581 days and counting…

January 26, 2015 4 comments

581

As January draws to a close there has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.

It is now 581 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.

On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 581 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

cartoon showing Peter O'Neill being fed by Rimbunan Hijau while he sits on a pile of SABL reports

 

Solomon Islands PM embraces crooked Chinese company based in PNG

January 22, 2015 3 comments
Prime Minister Sogavara and China Habour GM in Honiara

Prime Minister Sogavara and China Habour GM in Honiara

A crooked Chinese company based in PNG is reaching out to the Solomon Islands government in search of new contracts. The General Manager of China Harbour Engineering Company recently met with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare – see news report below.

Mr Sogavara, who described China Harbour Engineering as a ‘reputable’ company and ‘genuine investor’, seems unaware the firm has been blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud and condemned by the courts in Bangladesh and the government in Jamaica.

In case Mr Sogavara has not been properly briefed, here is a ‘greatest hits’ list that highlights China Harbour Engineering’s disconcerting record:

  • China Harbour Engineering Company’s parent company, and all its subsidiaries (including its PNG subsidiaries), have been blacklisted until 12/1/2017 by the World Bank for all contracts related to roads and bridges, owing to “fraudulent practices” (Source: World Bank 2011).
  • The courts in Bangladesh found that China Harbour Engineering Company paid bribes to the son of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, who was then sentenced to six years in prison. (Source: The Hindu 2011)
  • In 2012 an Audit was conducted by the Jamaican government into two major infrastructure projects, one of which was awarded to China Harbour Engineering Company. The Minister for Transport, Works and Housing claimed,

“The report from the forensic auditor has unearthed wanton disregard for the conventions and procedures established by the Government of Jamaica for project implementation, administration and management. These breaches of existing procurement guidelines have drained precious budgetary resources and undermined the very foundation of public institutional integrity” (Source: Caribbean Analysis 2012).

  • China Habour Engineering Company negotiated with the Cayman Islands Premier to build and run a major port facility. This deal was stopped, when the UK government blew the whistle over the procurement arrangements. Later it was revealed the process had been fast tracked by the Premier, in violation of legal process (Source: CayCompass 2013).

Perhaps Mr Sogavara and his staff should also read some previous coverage given to China Harbour Engineering on this blog:

PM meets potential Chinese investor

PM’s press secretariat | Solomon Star

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Wednesday met the general manager of a Papua New Guinea-based Chinese company interested in investing in Solomon Islands.

Mr Ma Jianhua, General Manager of China Habour Company (PNG) Limited, enlightened the Prime Minister about his company which he said is a state-owned enterprise specialised in survey and design, marine engineering and construction of roads, bridges and wharfs.

Mr Jianhua told the Prime Minister his company also provides support to its clients to get financial solutions for their infrastructure development needs.

“I first visited the Solomon Islands two years knew the country has a good investment market for my company.

“We pledge to provide quality service and the best returns for our clients,” he added.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the interest of China Habour Engineering Company.

“We are open to any genuine investor that wants to help us drive our private sector and I am pleased to know that your company is a reputable company doing business in 80 countries including Papua New Guinea,” Mr Sogavare said.

He added that, “Solomon Islands is in dire need to come out from where we are now in terms of development and we have ourselves to blame for restricting ourselves from other potential investors”.

The Prime Minister said there is investment potential in Solomon Islands for the company and he is encouraged to hear that the company can also help its clients access financial solutions for their infrastructure development needs.

“My challenge right now is ensuring developments in Malaita Province but I’m hearing people saying that investors are afraid of going to Malaita.”

MADANG LABOR OFFICER IS RD’S PUPPET

January 20, 2015 2 comments

Complaints after complaints about abuse and over exploitation by the RD Tuna Cannery workers of Madang Province, and not once did the Madang Provincial Labor officer look into them.

RD markets the Diana brand in PNG

RD markets the Diana brand in PNG

This is because Peter Neimani, the Provincial Labor Officer is said to be on RD’s payroll, so his hands are quite tied up and unable to address the workers complaints. You see, Peter has been and is still being paid by these foreigners every fortnight to keep all complaints against the company under the carpet.

This highlights two things, first is that the RD Cannery had planned to mistreat, abuse and exploit its workers long before doing so, and part of its plan was to find a puppet to brush away the complaints and even cover for them, and the puppet is Peter Neimani.

Secondly, being on RD’s payroll means Peter’s getting paid fortnightly while he’s playing ‘Labor officer’ for the government, so he gets two pay packets every fortnight. Paid by the government for being lousy and paid by the company to be the puppet that they can use however they want, anytime they wish, so long as they put some money on him.

Being on RD’s payroll is not all, Peter’s children’s school fees are all paid for by this much controversial fishing company year in year out, and the vehicle he’s driving around was also bought and handed to him by the company. Peter is among the ‘top shots’ puppets in the province (Nixon Duban is another one of them), who get cartons of ‘export brand’ tinned fish delivered to their doorsteps by the company.

Most of the workers doing the hard labor work are PNG nationals. Innocent men, women and youths showing up everyday and standing all day long to honestly earn a living, but are used by the company as tools. The Philippines workers are said to be ‘supervisors’, which jobs is really to walk around and make sure the nationals are working hard non-stop, and also to keep an eye on them and report to the management at the end of everyday.

The continuous abuses and exploitation of the workers are in all forms unimaginable to anyone who’s enjoying a RD product both locally and Internationally. RD is the company that pays K80 a fortnight to every faithful worker. It is the company that pays K200 and way less for workers who resigned after working for 17 years or more. It is the company that deducts from the workers ‘already low’ pay, allowances when it issues safety gears or provide transportation.

The list of these very ill, inhumane treatments continues, and the workers say they’ve lost count of how many times they’ve turned up at Peter Neimani’s office and told him. It seems Peter is way too busy enjoying the cartons of 48 cans of export brand tinned fish, a free ride on school fees for his kids and a tinted glass vehicle to even notice his fellow countrymen and women, practically crying their hearts out to him.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 574 days and counting…

January 19, 2015 Leave a comment

574

cartoon showing Peter O'Neill being fed by Rimbunan Hijau while he sits on a pile of SABL reports

SABL_billboard

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Torokina oil palm disputed by Bougainville landowners

January 19, 2015 4 comments

On the 15th of January the Post-Courier reported it is full steam ahead for the controversial Torokina Oil Palm plantation on Bougainville. But now evidence has emerged that the necessary landowner permissions have not been obtained and local people are not happy.

In a letter to the Department of Lands locals people accuse the Bougainville government of fast-tracking the Incorporated Land Group process and not dealing with the their concerns. The letter demands that ILG certificates not be issued.

Is this another case of President Momis pushing through large-scale resource projects to enrich big corporations?

The beneficiary of this project is Hakau Investment Limited owned by Henry Chow and run by his son Fabian. The Chow dynasty have been awarded a range of government grants for projects on Bougainville. To conduct a feasibility study into oil palm at Torokina, they were awarded K10 million in 2010-11.

But landowners remained concerned. Palm Oil has a global reputation for harming the environment, damaging land, and enriching big business interests, at the cost of landowning communities.

Torokina page 1

Torokina page 2

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 567 days and counting…

January 12, 2015 Leave a comment

567

As the world gets back to work in 2015 there has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.

It is now 567 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.

On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 567 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

 

Bougainville’s President Momis must explain widespread financial mismanagement

January 7, 2015 5 comments

Bougainville’s President Momis has launched a scathing attack on villagers across Bougainville looking for economic alternatives to large-scale mining. Speaking on New Dawn he demanded they produce a coherent economic plan for turning ‘tomato sales’ into sustainable revenues.

The issue of economic accountability is an important one, here are five reasons President Momis should not be exempt.

1. The Torokina Oil Palm Project and Sir Henry Chow

President Momis must explain why during 2010/11 the Torokina oil palm project received ten million Kina in government grants, and what, if any benefits, the people of Bougainville have received for investing nearly the entire ABG agricultural development budget on one project? He must also explain any benefits which Sir Henry Chow received from these grants, through Hakau Investment Limited or any other company owned by Chow.

Given that the Torokina oil palm plantation was expected to bear fruit by 2014, can the President explain what has happened since 2011?

In March 2013 Islands Business reported that the ABG Public Accounts Committee would ‘inquire into the two joint ventures done by the ABG with the Hakau Investment on the Torokina Oil Palm Project, and the China Business Corporation’. Can the President report back on the findings of these investigations?

Torokina Oil Palm Project

2. Employing Hedge Fund Traders as ‘Development’ Advisors

In 2012 President Momis employed public revenues to contract a hedge fund, Seagate Global, led by US expatriate, William Lawton, to become his ‘economic and development Advisor’. Seagate claims it was hired ‘to design and implement comprehensive community and economic development in Bougainville’. How much has the President spent on this contract? What tangible outcomes has this had for the people of Bougainville who have little interest in hedge funds? Why did the President choose a financial speculator to advise him on rural development?

In 2013 Seagate Global stated on their website ‘Seagate Global is the economic and Development Advisor to the President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the location of the Panguna mine, one of the largest copper and gold mines in the world, and a country rich in numerous resources’. The page also states, ‘Seagate Global entered the mining business as one of the best ways to help people’. The first statement was subsequently removed from the company’s website! The President must explain whether Seagate Global has obtained any tangible interests in Bougainville’s natural resources through its relationship with the ABG?

3. Joint-Venture with Filipino Business Accused of Human Rights Abuses

Following visits to the Philippines President John Momis has engaged the ABG in a joint-venture with Filipino executives allegedly involved in land-grabbing, violence against landowners, illegal labour practices, and environment breaches (the full scandal was exposed here).  How much money has the ABG spent on Bougainville POGE Development and its ventures with Filipino businessmen the subject of serious human rights allegations? How much has the ABG spent flying the President and his wife around the Philippines? During his extensive foreign travels has the President received any gifts from foreign companies?

4. The Panguna Mine Fiasco

Then there is the Panguna mine scandal. Before President Momis began expending significant sums of government revenues on mining – including on the Office of Panguna Mine Negotiations, an expanded Mining Division and extensive foreign advice – did he conduct an economic and social feasibility study to ensure this was money well spent?

After all, we know that the expert advice given to the ABG and the Australian government in 2008 was that reopening Panguna would be heavily resisted by landowning communities, and a potential spark for heightened tension. As a result they were advised ‘in the interim, a strategy for economic recovery through agricultural production appears the most viable among the possibilities’.

Did President Momis conduct any study that overturned these findings, and offered a strong evidence base suggesting that the significant government investment in reopening Panguna had a strong chance of bearing fruits?

And if he is to be transparent, President Momis should reveal how much has been spent on this ill-fated exercise to reopen Panguna, including money that has come from donor organisations such as the Australian government and World Bank.

5. The Public Housing Crisis

The President was also warned by auditors that public housing in Bougainville was being abused by some public servants who were not paying rent, while retired and retrenched staff were monopolising public properties. Given many public servants are forced to find housing on the inflated private market, has he done anything to rectify the abuse of public housing?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 970 other followers