PM: Schemes Used State In Deal

Prime Minister James Marape said the State’s decision to acquire the K3 billion UBS loan and to acquire the 10.1 per cent stake in Oil Search was done by the stroke of a pen and through coffee table discussions.

James Marape who was the then Finance Minister in the 2014 government and part of the cabinet that approved the controversial K3 billion UBS loan appeared before the inquiry on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister said his views remained that the policy that the policy submission on the UBS loan was “bulldozed” by the then Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on March 6th, 2014 during the cabinet meeting.

“There was no prior policy announcement on this matter. It arrived on the 6th of March and it was processed then,” said PM Marape.

When asked on whether it was a collective view by all members of the NEC, Marape said there was no indication that the State will purchase the 10.1% share in Oil Search in the submission.

“There was cabinet approval in 2013 for the country to prepare to redeem the parcel of Oil Search that was used as exchangeable bonds transaction with IPIC. The approval was given. In that approval there was no indication whatsoever for the State to purchase the 10.1 per cent share in Oil Search.”

The Prime Minister said the UBS loan was rushed through a 20 minutes cabinet meeting as it was indicated by Peter O’Neill as a matter of urgency.

PM Marape said the state lost a substantial amount of money.

“By the stroke of a pen, through table discussions on the 10.1 per cent stake in Oil Search, PNG government lost substantial revenue.

“PNG is not part of the Oil Search share registry, yet this scheme robbed people of this country. For some of us, looking back we were used by these schemes,” he said.

Jemimah Sukbat