Panel established to review tax dispute

The National Executive Council has appointed a panel of three independent experts to review the tax dispute between the Internal Revenue Commission and Barrick Niugini Limited.

NEC noted the progress of the activities required to reopen the Porgera Gold Mine and was concerned that the tax matter was prolonged.

While it continues to observe the independence of the internal revenue commission, it availed itself of the opportunity to be advised independently of the issues surrounding the taxation dispute.

In its meeting of 1st February 2023, the NEC appointed, David Sode, former IRC Commissioner General, David Castiglione a specialist in Resource taxation, and Ron Webb QC who will work with a legal firm review the legal analysis of the IRC’s position.

These are reputable individuals who have the skills and experiences to review independently what the IRC has done with this assessment.

Prime Minister Marape said while the independence of the IRC remains paramount, there was a need for an independent assessment to assure the Government that the assessment is correct in terms of its legal and technical basis, and that the government is positioned carefully to take its position in the dispute that stands in between the way of reopening Porgera gold mine.

“The National Government notes differing reading of the same tax law by both IRC and Barrick and instead of allowing the deployment of tax tribunal as allowed by law for tax dispute resolutions, cabinet felt responsible to set up this review to ascertain law as it is so solutions can be found sooner rather than later as is the case with tribunals and arbitrations.

“This independent review panel is not the tax tribunal that is provided for in the Income Tax Act, but it allows the State to independently look at the standoff between IRC and Barrick in as far as the reading of presently law is concerned to tax considerations IRC has made in respect to stripping definitions and others.

I consider that the independent review panel is within our powers to establish independently, and to review the issues and advise the government in return.”

The panel has two weeks from the date of receiving the NEC decision to complete and file its report back to the National Executive Council.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the leadership of the Minister for State Enterprises, William Duma and Mining, Sir Ano Pala, who worked hard to bring this matter to the NEC.
Meantime, BNL has welcomed the appointment of the independent panel.

“We note the statement announcing the NEC’s establishment of an independent review panel to examine the tax dispute between the IRC and BNL. If the panel can assist in seeing the matter be resolved fairly, amicably and in accordance with PNG law, we welcome its appointment.”

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