PNG Government Must Not compromise Discussion with Barrick by misinformation : O'Neill

 Former PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill has expressed hope that there will be positive outcomes from State negotiations with Barrick (Niugini) Limited. In moving forward, Mr. O’Neill highlighted that the government must provide clarity of information, including details of whether Barrick is now demanding the PNG Government buy its way back into equity in the Porgera mine.

Leader of the People’s National Congress Party, Hon. Peter O’Neill, CMG, MP, said it is good to hear that James Marape has succumbed and finally attended talks with Barrick as negotiation is a much more mature way to attempt to manage the problem.

“People around our country, particularly in Enga and surrounding provinces, and all MPs are looking to the mine reopening, and to the promised better deal for the Nation,” Mr. O’Neill said.

“The country is also looking for honesty and clarity, and to know what cost any new deal will impose, and we do not want false information that can only mislead our people.”

Mr. O’Neill said it is now confirmed in public statements by James Marape and Barrick that PNG will not have 100 per cent ownership of the Porgera mine as Marape had earlier promised, but will obtain equity through a trade-off in taxes and other exchanges.

“While Marape now claims on Facebook that ‘PNG is to own the majority of equity,’ Barrick have countered this by stating that ‘PNG will take a major share of equity.’

“Marape has gone from promising 100 per cent State equity, to majority equity, to now reducing this to just a major share of equity, that in investment terms could be as low as 15 or 20 percent.

“Barrick also stated that the government will obtain this equity through the trade-off in ‘economic levers.’

“This suggests that Barrick is offering the government the chance to purchase equity in Porgera that will be paid through tax exemptions and other concessions.

“How much the country will pay for this Porgera equity will be determined, as Barrick have stated, when there is a ‘precise definition of the fair sharing of economic benefits to offset PNG taking a major share of equity under the new arrangements.”

Mr. O’Neill said PNG cannot take any more of the pain that was caused by the abrupt closure of the mine that has been devastating for workers and small business owners.

“The country has already lost potentially one billion Kina in revenue, thousands of jobs lost and business closures, that is by far too much pain for our people to suffer.

“We all want the best deal for Papua New Guinea, and we will support intelligent proposals that will genuinely help our people. But we are vigilant and warn this government not to mislead our people just so they can look like they have signed a deal when they have not.

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