AN OPEN LETTER TO DON POLYE MP, OPPOSITION LEADER
Congratulations, Mr Polye, on winning the re-count for Kandep district! We realize sinister political forces were at work to bring about the re-count. Thankfully you won.
PNG needs your leadership now like never before. As you know we are currently saddled with a limping-along economy that is likely due to corrupt government. The eyes of all Papua New Guineans are on you to take the lead in challenging the O’Neill administration.
One year ago in the October 8, 2015 edition of the Post Courier you were spot on in your claim that the PNG LNG funds were being parked in an account in Singapore, and not in the Bank of PNG as claimed by the O’Neill administration. Thank you for bringing that to the light of day.
You can’t rest now. You need to continue to hammer away and demand transparency of government finances. In particular you need to focus on the UBS loan, now rolled into a Credit Suisse loan. Secondly you need to demand full disclosure of the PNG LNG income.
You are aware of the financial situation in PNG in the past two years.. In 2015 PNG was the envy of other Pacific region countries and many countries around the world with 11% GDP growth. It was the first full year for income from the PNG LNG project, the biggest project ever undertaken in the history of the nation. Dame Carol Kidu was right when she stated: “The PNG LNG project will make or break the country.”
In 2016 we experienced a serious downturn in PNG because of a so-called “cash flow problem”. The salaries of High Commissioners and their staffs were delayed. State owned enterprises failed to receive their promised allotments. Many government departments and provincial administrations were short-changed.
It was not a “cash flow problem”. It was a corruption problem, as you know. Funds from the PNG LNG project were being diverted to pay the failed UBS loan. The Prime Minister needs to realise that the PNG LNG funds are not his personal piggy bank to do with in whatever manner he wishes. They are funds belonging to the sovereign nation of PNG!
A brief side comment for Michael Somare: Grand Chief, we are now aware that your hands are not clean in financial dealings you have made while you were Prime Minister. We’ve learned in September 2016 that you and your son arranged to have bribes paid to you in excess of K1 million and you used those funds to buy houses in Sydney. Those funds were designated to facilitate the development of community colleges in PNG, but today PNG has nothing to show for it. Thankfully the Singaporean authorities were willing to investigate the matter.
Mr Polye, maybe you can convince the Singapore government to conduct an investigation into the UBS loan. It’s much more likely that Singapore will conduct a fair trial in view of the fact that their ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index is 8 where PNG’s ranking is way down at 139, among the most corrupt nations on the planet.
Mr Polye, we very much need you, because you are one of the very few MPs who understand the corruption of our current government. Far too many MPs have their heads in the sand, unwilling to dig into the allegations.
You are one of the few who understand that in excess of K100M – maybe as high as K500M – is missing and unaccounted for in the UBS loan alone. You are also aware of the lack of transparency of these mega-financial arrangements. The reality is that we have zero transparency on the major financial transactions of our nation! The UBS loan and the PNG LNG transactions should not be hidden in Singapore banks, but rather with the Bank of South Pacific or some other PNG bank, so that the transactions can be investigated when improprieties take place.
We are asking you to do a lot. But corruption is so pervasive in our country that these matters have to be addressed. The economy is struggling when it should be robust. You need to work behind the scenes to convince at least 56 MPs to require that Prime Minister O’Neill give full accounting on the UBS loan. Separately, you also need to convince them that the PNG LNG financial arrangements need to be transferred to a PNG bank.
All MPs are required to give an accounting of the K10M they receive for DSIP funds in their districts. What’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. The Prime Minister needs to come clean and give a full report on the UBS loan, which is 300 times larger than the K10M the MPs are responsible for.
By his actions on these matters the Prime Minister O’Neill is telling us he does not care about the 80% of the population who are barely eking out an existence. They are the ones who suffer because of corruption. Please use the next 8 months to jump up and down on the tables in Parliament and demand full and transparent accounting on the UBS loan and the PNG LNG income.