Chairman of PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd, Sir Mekere Morauta, yesterday called on the O’Neill Government, Ok Tedi Mining Ltd and the Fly River Provincial Government to pay for the processing of CMCA compensation payments.
“If there is no financial support forthcoming from them, then the payments cannot be processed and many thousands of Western Province men, women and children will go without,” he said.
“They will not receive the compensation payments, which are rightfully theirs and are for many families their major source of cash income.
“The State, OTML and FRPG must act quickly to make sure the payments can be made and to ensure that the people do not suffer unnecessarily. It is their responsibility – they owe it to the people of Western Province.”
"In the past PNGSDP has paid for the processing of the payments by its subsidiary PNG Microfinance Ltd, from dividends paid to it by Ok Tedi.
"But since the O’Neill Government expropriated Ok Tedi, without compensation, no dividends have been paid to PNGSDP.
"Dividends from the company’s 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi were its only source of income, and when they were withheld PNGSDP had no means of paying for almost all of its programs and projects. This includes its annual financial support to PMF to enable the payments to be processed.
"PNGSDP has been helping PMF facilitate the CMCA payments since 2008 by paying approximately K500,000 a year out of the OTML dividends to cover payment processing costs."
But without the dividend income PNGSDP cannot continue to do its good work through community support like this, Sir Mekere said.
“PMF must now operate on a fully commercial basis if it is to survive and continue to provide banking services in Western Province,” he said.
“PMF is the only banking service provider for many people in Western Province and elsewhere, and PNGSDP is making sure that it survives. It is doing this by making it self-sufficient.
“We do not want to have to shut down Western Province branches, as we have had to with other operations such as Western Power, because of the expropriation.
“PNGSDP believes there are ample funds available from Ok Tedi, which is now owned 100 % by the State, to facilitate these payments.”
Sir Mekere said the small amount of interest income from investments available to PNGSDP was being used to protect the interest of the people of Western Province, who are the beneficiaries of PNGSDP’s sustainable development program.
:PNGSDP is doing this in the international courts by opposing the Government’s attempts to control the Long Term Fund, and seeking the return of the company’s shareholding in Ok Tedi," he said.
"PML has already written to the O’Neill Government, OTML and the FRPG asking them to fulfill their obligations to the people of Western Province by providing financial support to process the CMCA payments."