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PNG: Ramu project 'needs review'

Postcourier (Papua New Guinea)
January 31st, 2007

THE Ramu nickel/cobalt mining agreement will be reviewed if the People's Party enters government. Party leader and Enga Governor Peter Ipatas told reporters at the Parliament House yesterday the agreement was signed by the National Alliance government in China and favours the developers.

Mr Ipatas said this was one thing he was willing to do and put his "life on the line" for the country as part of his fight against corruption.

Mr Ipatas said the agreement was done in such a way the State of Papua New Guinea and the landowners were mere observers on their own land while the developer got about 85 per cent of the takings.

Mr Ipatas said his party was for the people and he would fight for the people and ensure the Ramu people benefited from the project.

He said if it meant having the mining stopped, it would be done to ensure the people of Papua New Guinea, through the government and the landowners, received the maximum benefit.

Mr Ipatas said there was no rush and the minerals would remain here for as long as no one mined it and there was no rush if the people were going to be mere onlookers.

Post-Courier also understands the Government signed an agreement with the developer to exempt them from paying taxes for the next 10 years.

Despite advice from the bureaucracy, the government went ahead to exempt the developer.

Mr Ipatas was also supported by party president Wera Mori who said this was one way of aggressively addressing corruption.

Both men told the reporters their party would aggressively address corruption and would be disturbing comfort zones and thus putting lives at risk.

They said good governance was based on getting things done correctly and fighting corruption was part of good governance.

An officer of the party later told the Post-Courier if the need arose a Royal Commission of Inquiry would be established to satisfy that international standards were followed in this deal.

He also said the party had observed Labour laws may have been breached in the many Chinese who had been brought into work iat the mine.

He said these were issues the party would also address if it got into power and if the people gave it the mandate to run the country.

Meanwhile, Mr Ipatas told reporters PNG was a Christian country but there was no legislation to support that.

He also said his party would not stop people from other religions entering the country but would not recognise any infrastructure that was not Christian and was for the worshipping of other gods by other religions.

Mr Ipatas said this was one of many issues his party would implement if it was in government.




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