2 Mar 2012

PNG treasurer not concerned about losing finance portfolio

3:19 pm on 2 March 2012

Papua New Guinea's Treasurer Don Polye says the decision by Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to strip him of his powers as Finance Minister is understandable.

Mr O'Neill took over the finance portfolio after alleging in a letter that Mr Polye failed to contain expenditure overruns in relation to LNG project-related landowner payments.

The Prime Minister indicated the removal of powers from the Minister was temporary.

Mr Polye says there hasn't been any expenditure on landowner payments yet but claims the Prime Minister is being extra-cautious because of certain pressures on him.

"I sympathise with him. But I hope he relinquishes the powers (of Finance Minister) as soon as possible because this is my government. I made O'Neill the Prime Minister and other coalition party leaders, we all of us participated in putting this government together and I would be very mindful that the solidarity in this coalition is not undermined by any conduct on our side."

Groups of Papua New Guinea LNG Project landowners have called for Mr Polye be restored as Finance Minister to deal with their demands.

The Post Courier reports that disgruntled landowners have been camping outside the Prime Minister's office in Port Moresby demanding to be paid all outstanding commitments.

A combination of upstream resource landowners came together to demand the immediate re-instatement of Mr Polye, who they say is the only one who can 'fast-track' their payments.

The landowners had announced today as the deadline for payment of 137 million US dollars.

The Prime Minister has told them that he will meet all the landowner leaders about the issue on Tuesday next week.

Security remains tight around Morauta Haus, with police containing the ongoing sit-in by the protestors.