Among them was West New Britain Regional Member, Sasindran Muthuvel. The former Minister for State Enterprises, in a statement, said he made a considered and decisive move.
“When I agreed to the role of Minister, with the blessing of the people of West New Britain of whom I was Governor, I made a promise to ensure that I carried out the duties to the best of my ability. I promised to do what needed to be done to turn the state enterprises around. I promised to appoint qualified Directors and Chairpersons who could protect the employees, to improve services and to deliver a dividend,” he stated.
“And if the Directors did not meet our expectations quickly, they would be replaced regardless of who they were. I made a promise that I would not rest until the policies and legislation encouraged governance, accountability and transparency. I brought the State-owned Enterprise Reform plan to NEC which has resulted in a USD500 million ADB soft policy loan to restructure SOE debt and ownership. This included the approval of amendments to the Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) Act.
“I worked tirelessly with our bilateral and multilateral partners to get funding for projects that would develop our utilities. I developed plans that ensure existing assets are rehabilitated, expanded and optimised. And I discussed and advanced opportunities to broaden investment with a potential to encourage partial and full privatisation of SOEs from domestic institutional investment companies.
“Like others, when I feel that my decisions are being undermined or that I am being forced to approve projects which are not in the best interests of our PNG citizens and the SOEs, then I must take action. If I am being forced to appoint people to SOE boards that are not qualified or appoint managing directors who are clearly incompetent or have conflicts of interest, then I will take action.
“And even though this government promises to separate itself from our SOEs, NEC continues to push for more political influence, not less. The proposed amendments to the KCH Act which I brought to NEC, were rejected, until I agreed to leave the appointment of CEO/MDs and Board Directors with NEC.
“How is this removing political influence from the SOEs? How is this change for good? Whether it is signing uncommercial deals, approving expensive debt or compromising the quality of management, I will not support decisions that worsen the financial and operational performance of SOEs.”
Muthuvel said he is confident that his move is the right move. He has not moved because he is following others. He is moving because he has not been allowed to do the job to the best of his abilities.
“This country is struggling and there are no practical plans to stimulate the economy and improve social indicators.”
Despite these significant differences, Muthuvel is grateful for the opportunity to serve as a PNG Minister for State Enterprises.
“God bless our people, God bless our country, God bless our Papua New Guinea!”
(MPs filling up the Opposition bench on November 13th)