Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why MRA should not approve Wafi-Golpu and Frieda River mining leases?

There is a Papua New Guinean weakness known in tok pisin as “yumi ol lain blong saik up nating.” Translated into English it can mean several things but in the context of this blog it refers to Papua New Guineans making irrational decisions based on the state of their emotions.

Environmental arguments aside, PNG 's Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) should not grant special mining leases to the developers of these projects as it (PNG) is currently in a weak negotiating position.

It may seem counter-intuitive not to grant licenses at a time when PNG’s economy is in crisis. Foreign direct investment from these two projects would provide relief to our foreign exchange woes. The two projects will also provide much needed jobs during the construction phase.

But the experiences of Ramu Nickel and the PNGLNG Project should serve as a stark reminder to politicians and bureaucrats. Both deals were closed when PNG was in a weak negotiating position and as a result the government, landowners and people of PNG have gotten rotten deals.

Ramu Nickel was negotiated by the Somare government at a time when no one was putting any money in PNG’s oil and gas and mining industry. The PNGLNG project was negotiated around the time of the global financial crisis. With the PNG government in a weak negotiating position, the Chinese and American shoved their contracts down PNG’s throat and made the nation swallow their bitter pills.

The consequences have been disastrous for local people and the national economy. Landowners at Ramu Nickel have not being paid a single cent of royalties, according to PNG’s EITI Report for 2013. The PNG LNG gas pipeline runs past various stranded gas fields that cannot be exploited to grow a local petrochemical industry because the state failed to negotiate for a common carrier pipeline. Various other ills can be listed for both projects.

The announcements by the partners in the Wafi-Golpu and Frieda River projects come at a time when PNG is facing economic difficulties. They (announcements) also come at the eve of the general elections when a cash strapped government is keen on pleasing the electorate with its economic credentials. It seems the project developers also believe as some industry players do that the mining downturn has bottomed out.

As previously pointed out by Prime Minister O’Neill and the Chief Secretary, PNG is a price taker and so it’s susceptible to market fluctuations.

However the nature of the commodities markets is that they are cyclical as the market corrects itself to changes in supply and demand.

If the pundits are correct that the end of the downturn is in sight, PNG can afford to sleep on the Frieda River and Wafi Golpu licences. The global uncertainty caused by Brexit is good for PNG’s gold miners as investors see gold as a safe haven and push the gold price up. And a general upswing in the resource sector is anticipated.

The narrative of the O’Neill government has been one of “nation building” is exemplified by its large infrastructure projects. As a government focussed on nation building, it should reject the special mining lease applications if they do not include refining of the copper and gold mined. As the PM and his Chief Secretary may well be aware, PNG cannot continue to be a price taker.

Economic diversification and industrialization of PNG can begin with the downstream processing of the ore from Frieda River and Wafi Golpu. PNG needs to capture more of the value of its natural resources given its close proximity to markets in Asia. The Wafi Golpu and Frieda River projects present an opportunity to transform PNG from being just a price taker.

Finally, PNG should not rush into granting special mining leases to both projects until the proposed amendments to the Mining Act are made. This is imperative given the Kumul Consolidation agenda should PNG choose to give Kumul Mining a greater stake in both projects.

As a nation, we need to capture more value from our natural resources or risk repeating a 40 year legacy of lost opportunity and squandering of natural resource wealth.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#PNG's University Students Protests Give Meaning to Constitution because Courts cannot

University of Papua New Guinea students today made a brilliant tactical move in not deliverying their petition to Prime Minister O’Neill’s lackeys.

Ministers Tabar and Micah made a fool of themselves showing up at the Waigani Campus in Port Moresby only to be shown the might of intellect against the brawn of carpetbaggers.

The intellectual superiority of this young generation of PNG’s emerging leaders must be applauded.

Students from the University of PNG have shown the rest of Papua New Guinea and the world how to politely show the middle finger at the oligarchy.

Papua New Guinea is currently run by wanted fugitives and their inner circle of vampires sucking up the wealth of the nation.

Being the dimwits that they are along with their poorly developed cerebral functions, the nation faces a battle between human empathy and animalistic survival behavior.

Students at the University of Papua New Guinea and the University of Technology have demonstrated critical leadership that values the dignity of the human person. Their sacrifice is highly commendable as it reflects the intrinsic goodness of human nature in standing in solidarity for fellow citizens.

Only humans are known in the myriad of life forms to be able to lay down their lives for another. Christianity’s very existence is based on this very tenant of laying down one’s life for the good of humanity. Indeed unlike other forms of religious expression, Christianity is founded on the sacrifice of human life for the salvation of humanity.

Christianity teaches that laying down one’s life need not necessarily involve death as shown by the example of Isaac and Abraham but the willingness to do so for the greater good of humanity as is seen in the great works of the Apostles and Saints.  This great tradition has been carried on by the striking student.

Papua New Guinea is at the cross roads where the values upon which this nation was founded are being brought into question. Papua New Guinea’s founding values are reflected in its FIVE NATIONAL GOALS AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES.

The first National Goal and Directive Principle  (NGDP) calls on every man and woman to free himself or herself from all forms of oppression in order to be fully developed as a human person (Integral Human Development).

When all Papua New Guineans are liberated as per the first NGDP, they are able to achieve the second NGDP (Equality and Participation) by being empowered to equally participate in all social, economic, political, cultural and etc… aspects of national development.

Once you achieve the second NGDP, you secure the third NGDP (National Sovereignty and Self Reliance) because Papua New Guineans are now in control of all aspects of national development.

In order to achieve long term sustainability of National Sovereignty and Self Reliance (3rd NGDP), Papua New Guineans must wisely manage their natural resources. Thus the fourth NGDP calls for wise use of natural resources.

In achieving NGDPs 1-4, Papua New Guinean Ways are secured (NGDP 5 calls for PNG Ways).

Many people may see me as anti-O’Neill but I do not consider myself as such. I am neither anti-O’Neill nor Pro-O’Neill. I consider myself to be Pro-Constitution as per the National Goals and Directive Principles are concerned.

It is important to note that the National Goals and Directive Principles are non-justiciable, meaning that the Courts cannot make rulings based on them. As such, it is up to individual Papua New Guineans to give meaning to them.

The University students are giving meaning to the National Goals and Directive Principles of the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What #PNG needs to know about the O'Neill Regime's Secret Cybercrime laws

The lack of Public Consultations with civil society stakeholders like myself raises serious questions about the intent and purpose of proposed regulation of the internet.
The O'Neill government has been secretly drafting laws to stifle Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly under the guise of fighting cyber crime
Cybercrime is simply the use of computers and mobile devices for criminal activities via the internet.
Examples include hacking, bullying, pornography, child pornography etc...
However there are sections within the Draft Cybercrime Bill [DOWNLOAD PDF] that may gravely undermine democracy in Papua New Guinea.
Section 17 of the Bill for instance deals with "Offensive Publications". This is despite the fact that section 14 deals with pornography. The problem with this section is that something that may be Offensive to one person may not be viewed as offensive by another. For instance political satire cartnoons may offend a politician but aren't necessarily offensive to society.
Section 19 deals with Defamation. Again, why have specific mention of defamation when there are already provisions for defamation in existing laws? The penalty imposed is K50 000 fine and 15 years imprisonment, which is much higher than the penalty for being caught selling marijuana. Clearly this section is intended to shut down online discussion of national issues by creating an environment of fear.
Section 25 deals with Cyber Unrest. It warns " A person who intentionally and without lawful excuse or justification, uses an electronic system or device to incite any form of unrest or giving rise is guilty of a crime."
This section could potentially kill any community organizing online if the powers that be deem such organizing to be politically unfavourable. How do you mobilize people in such an environment?
Section 40 deals with ICT Providers. It places a burden on ICT providers to monitor the activity on their network. This undermines customers right to privacy of communications.
You may or may not be aware of recent developments in the United States where the Patriot Act was repealed by the Obama Administration to stop the US Government from spying on its own people. We've also seen in the Apple iPhone scandal where the US Courts have prevented the FBI from forcing Apple to hack the iPhone of a shooter.
Following the exposure by Edward Snowden, democratic countries around the world have been moving towards protecting their citizen's right to privacy and freedom of expression. Only Dictatorships have imposed laws similar to the Draft Cybercrime Bill of the O'Neill Government.
Yes we need to regulate cybercrime and outlaw the bad stuff but we shouldn’t undermine our democratic rights in the process.
Apparently, a workshop will be held tomorrow at Lamana Hotel to discuss the new Bill and it is very suspicious that civil society has not been invited to comment.
What we are seeing are the machinations of a dictatorship.