Former PNG treasurer takes court action against govt loan
Former PNG Treasurer takes court action against controversial government loan.
The sacked Papua New Guinea Treasurer and leader of the Triumph Heritage and Empowerment Party has sought a court order for the government to pay back a US1.1 billion dollar loan.
The loan was taken out by the government with Swiss bank UBS, to purchase 10 percent of PNG's largest oil and gas company, Oil Search.
Don Polye, who was last month sacked as Treasurer over his opposition to the loan, told Jamie Tahana that he is taking court action because the loan is unconstitutional and needs to be paid back immediately.
DON POLYE: It is against the Constitution of Papua New Guinea. We have a very strong provision in the Constitution section 209, that articulates very clearly that any loan or any borrowing that is done by the government or that is yet to be done by the government must go through the mandatory process of parliament's approval, and that is constitutional. This particular loan of 1.239 billion Australian dollars from UBS has not gone through the Constitutional process of getting that approval from the parliament. Therefore I felt that the government should not proceed to obtain this loan because it breaches the constitution of PNG.
JAMIE TAHANA: But the loan has already gone through hasn't it? What difference will this court action make?
DP: Well the most important thing is that a court will declare that the unconstitutional, and I'm seeking the court to also give the orders that he deposit is reversed and that is acquired by the government the resale from the market and the funds or the money recoup are given back to the lender.
JT: With this loan the money will be given back to the lender anyway, what difference would doing it immediately be when presumably, if you believe the government, you would miss out on the benefits of the government owning these Oil Search shares?
DP: Well, first of all I said it was unconstitutional, they should not have taken place in the first instance and when his happened and I think there is a very important that the people in this country know that what the government did is illegal and unconstitutional. No matter what has happened has happened but the government does have the power to cancel it.
JT: You've already fallen on your sword as Finance Minister over this loan. Does your political career rest on wining this case?
DP: Not a political career, it's a important matter here that I stand on, I got elected on a platform of honesty of total integrity, a platform that pushed the interest of Papua New Guinea ahead of other interests, corporate interests or other polarised interests. In this case I do not believe that the 3 billion kina loan will benefit the people of Papua New Guinea in any way. Really 99 percent don't benefit in Papua New Guinea. It only satisfies corporate interest and those that are involved in these concessions.