12 Aug 2002

PNG's Prime Minister moves to stop the privatisation of public assets

3:35 pm on 12 August 2002

Papua New Guinea's new Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has moved to stop the privatisation of public assets.

After less than a week in office, Sir Michael said his predecessor Sir Mekere Morauta had pushed through the sell-offs in a rush.

Backed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and donors such as Australia, Sir Mekere had tried to implement a broad privatisation programme.

The halt on all sell-offs, including the recently agreed partial sale of the state phone monopoly PNG Telikom, is likely to alarm the multilateral agencies and donors alike.

Sir Michael said his order to halt the privatisation programme was not intended to terminate the process but to give the government enough time to evaluate the sales.