New PNG PM says his govt will review resource sector laws

6:37 am on 1 June 2019

Papua New Guinea's new prime minister says his government will review laws governing resource sectors.

An ExxonMobil LNG Project plant near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

An ExxonMobil LNG Project plant near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

James Marape was elected by MPs on Thursday as the country's new prime minister, replacing Peter O'Neill who earlier resigned after almost eight years in power.

Mr Marape has prioritised addressing uneven benefits from the country's abundant resource wealth.

He promised his government will take a closer look at the mining, oil and gas and other resource sectors, saying the laws which govern them are outdated.

"This leadership is all about placing this country in the right place in taking back our economy. Our forestry... we don't need more foreigners to come in and export our forestry sector," he said.

"Those players currently playing in this country, your time is now to go into downstream (processing) and not round log export."

James Marape said he does not intend to chase away investors. He said he encouraged investors, but that PNG must maximise gain from its God-given resources.

Mr Marape added that provincial governments should be able to participate more in resource extractive industries including fisheries.

He hinted that government's recent moves to give more autonomy to provinces should go beyond transferral of functions and help empower them to raise their own revenues

The prime minister also said his government would work to give people better services, quality health and education, good infrastructure and access to modern communication systems.

Meanwhile, PNG's opposition leader says his group of MPs is available to help the new prime minister in governing.

Patrick Pruaitch was among dozens of MPs who crossed the floor of parliament to vote for Mr Marape.

Mr Pruaitch said it was yet to be determined whether he and around 24 other MPs would stay in opposition.

According to him, a collective effort is required to address major issues affecting the country including mismanagement of the economy and a huge debt burden

"This team stands ready to respond with various policy stands that we have developed over the last two years. And we would no doubt if invited be too happy to make that available to the prime minister and his team."

Patrick Pruaitch said the opposition's primary aim of removing Peter O'Neill had been achieved.