PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill Welcomes Referral to Leadership Tribunal

Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has welcomed notification from the Public Prosecutor that a Leadership Tribunal has been requested to hear matters relating to the Government’s decision to purchase of shares in Oil Search Ltd through a UBS loan facility.

While he said sources behind the allegations are somewhat dubious and driven by people with political motivation, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill will use the opportunity to provide clarity on this investment by the state into the national resources sector.

“The Public Prosecutor’s referral is noted, and we welcome this decision,” the Prime Minister said. “It gives us an opportunity to go before the independent tribunal and the courts to determine the outcomes of these decisions based on real evidence that will be presented to the tribunal and can be cross-examined.

“Our actions have been to ensure that the State continues to have some ownership of Oil Search which it has been doing since its inception. “We have acted in the best interests of our country, in the best interest of our people, and it is important that we continue to be participants in resource development in our country.

“The only way to effectively participate in these resource developments is by making sure that we have ownership of some of the shares in those companies. “Otherwise we will continue to be bystanders while other people come and continue to develop our resources.

“This is no way implicates personal gain on these matters. We have followed every process that is necessary to get the approvals to borrow this money. It was not a one-man decision, it was made by cabinet, NEC has made that decision and endorsed that decision, so am very surprised that I am targeted to be referred.”

The Prime Minister said there are still outstanding issues that need to be resolved in what appear to be related matters. “We have a Supreme Court reference that is currently before the courts seeking reference to the decision on the judicial review on some of the questions raised about this particular transaction. “We will ask the courts for determination on these issues.”

Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill also highlighted a matter of significant transparency and accountability concern relating to the handling of official documents that he said will be investigated.

“The only concern I have is the individuals that have political interests seem to have access to decisions and processes before this information is officially released. “That is a serious concern and we will be asking the appropriate authorities to carry out independent investigations. “These people have inappropriate access to information even before the persons affected.”

The Prime Minister said the referral will not impact upon his schedule or ongoing management of public policy and government. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said his focus will remain firmly on delivering the core policy objectives of healthcare, education, infrastructure and law and order for the nation.

“I will continue to run the affairs of the country. For me personally I have been fighting many challenges since I was born and this is another of these challenges.” “Our country is going through an unprecedented level of economic growth so we continue despite these challenges and distractions.”

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