Friday, August 26, 2011

State gives Falcon jet to Air Niugini


THE government's K120 million Falcon jet was on Wednesday given away to Air Niugini to use, or sell, The National reports.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced the cabinet decision on Wednesday in the company of Public Enterprises Minister Sir Mekere Morauta and Air Niugini chief executive officer Wasantha Kumarasiri.
O'Neill has been quite concerned, according to his minders, that the aircraft's continued use by government ministers was putting the lie to his earlier announcement to sell the executive aircraft. So he made a joint submission  with Sir Mekere to cabinet to transfer its ownership to Air Niugini.
Cabinet approved the move yesterday.
"This is not a cosmetic change," O'Neill said.
"We are transferring ownership to Air Niugini and Air Niugini can dispose of it on the market or do charter business with it."
A method of payment to the government by Air Niugini was yet to be determined, he said.
O'Neill said Air Niugini was already owed some K40 million by the government for its management, crew, fuel and food.
He said should the aircraft be sold, Air Niugini would take what it was owed and the balance  be given to government to be used in health and education.
The government is of course free to charter the Falcon Jet if it so wishes – at a rate of US$10,000 per hour (about K24,000).
This might be the first of a number of government assets to be put up for sale, including Telikom and PNG Power, reading from comments made by Sir Mekere yesterday.
"These utilities are vital to support social and economic development, he said.
"We cannot ignore the state they are in any longer.
"In the short time the O'Neill-Namah government has, I am determined to find solutions and effect change."
Sir Mekere was instrumental in setting up the Independent Public Business Corporation during his tenure as prime minister in 1999 to oversee the privatisation and corporatisation of non-profitable state-owned enterprises.
He said the Somare government had "weakened the role of IPBC from being a house of rehabilitation to a warehouse storing junk".
It would appear he is all for moving back to his original goal for the IPBC, adding he had taken a long hard look and knew what had been going on and what needed to be done

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