Friday, October 22, 2010

Tiensten backs O'Neill

NATIONAL Planning Minister Paul Tiensten has called on the PNG Sustainable Development Program to change its strategy, and align itself with the government’s development plan.

Tiensten said he supported the call by Treasurer Peter O’Neill that the PNGSDP needed to change to redirect its focus.

“I agree with the principle the minister (O’Neill) is pushing.

“The PNGSDP must align itself with the national government’s development plans and priorities. It must support the budget and the medium-term development plan.

“We will not achieve much if it runs parallel programmes, or did things in isolation of the government. We should work together to meet our development objectives,” Tiensten said yesterday.

O’Neill told AAP on Wednesday he was not happy with BHP Billiton’s belief PNGSDP was performing well.

“I responded (in a second letter) saying this is unacceptable to us and there are ongoing discussions now about some changes to be made.

“Government is not trying to take control of decision making ... we are generally concerned about their ability to deliver their programmes,” he said.

Despite O’Neill’s calls for “new blood”, he then issued a statement on Wednesday night denying he demanded the sacking of PNGSDP board members.

PNGSDP was set up by BHP Billiton in 2002 when it exited the mine after environment damages led to a web of legal challenges.

O’Neill attacked PNGSDP on Wednesday for failing to deliver improvements needed after the environmental disaster at the Ok Tedi copper mine.

He said there were growing concerns among PNG leaders and citizens that the PNGSDP had achieved little after nearly a decade.

PNGSDP chief executive officer David Sode had invited O’Neill to visit the programe’s projects to see their positive impacts.

“The accountability of the government is one thing; our accountability is very clear, the public annual report, we hold the books open, you can tell where every penny goes,” Sode said.

“If the same yardstick is used in other development agencies and government, it will be very revealing.” – AAP


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