Tkatchenko criticises Barker’s ‘ongoing negativity’

The Minister for Lands and Physical Planning and APEC, Justin Tkatchenko, has condemned what he described as ‘the ongoing negativity’ of Institute of National Affairs Executive Director, Paul Barker.

The Minister made the comments after the INA director talked down the independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers that Papua New Guinea can expect around K9 billion in investment after hosting APEC.

“Mr Barker claims to know more than the internationally respected accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and its analysis of investment coming after Papua New Guinea hosted APEC,” said Tkatchenko.

“PricewaterhouseCoopers have done their research and have reported that 9 billion Kina worth of investments will come into Papua New Guinea after the successful hosting of APEC.

“This is independent analysis and global investors believe the word of PricewaterhouseCoopers over the likes of Paul Barker.

“Hosting the APEC Leaders’ Summit, and around 250 ministerial and technical meetings, has brought international attention to the investment potential in Papua New Guinea and business is responding.

“Following a few challenging years, global investors continue to have confidence in the economy and governance of Papua New Guinea.

“This includes investment across a wide range of sectors including tourism and agriculture, the energy sector and increased investment in resources projects.

“The economic stimulus from APEC will continue for many years after the APEC Leaders’ Summit and will generate thousands of new jobs.”

Minister Tkatchenko said it is time for constant complainers such as Barker to take a look at themselves and act professionally.

“The negativity of people who are not independent, and pursue political agendas does not help the country.

“The Executive Director of the Institute of National Affairs should be independent and provide perspectives that are impartial and accurate.

“But all we see is this constant stream of negativity on many issues that is based on questionable information.

“The fact is that our economy is growing, and even through the challenging years, maintained positive economic growth.

“Papua New Guinea welcomes the increased investment we are receiving from APEC economies and countries right around the world.

“Our Government has no issue with constructive criticism, but will not tolerate blatant lies that try to totally undermine the success of this outstanding event.”

In response, Barker said though he would not normally bother to respond to Tkatchenko’s rants, this time he will reiterate that contrary to his observations, he is extremely committed towards PNG in achieving its potential and the best outcomes for its population and future.

“To focus on real priorities, avoid flagrant or inappropriate extravagance in the face of severe deficiencies affecting systems and people's lives, and certainly to be realistic. Positive outcomes result from being honest, realistic and transparent and therefore addressing, rather than circumventing, the challenges at hand, and avoiding suggesting they eat cake, when there's little in the larder!”

Barker was not the only individual who refused to take the PwC report at face value. Loop PNG readers also commented, with some saying unless PwC releases more details, the report itself is closer to government propaganda “rather than work worthy of an international accounting firm”.

(From left: Minister for Lands and Physical Planning and APEC, Justin Tkatchenko, and INA director Paul Barker)

Carmella Gware