28 Sep 2002

World Bank consultants accused of trying to unseat PNG Forestry Minister

9:15 am on 28 September 2002

The Papua New Guinea Forest minister, Patrick Pruaitch, says there has been a bid to have him sacked from Cabinet by a powerful lobby group that included World Bank consultants.

This week the Bank reacted strongly to the cancellation of the launch of it's Forestry and Conservation Scheme by PNG's National forest Service.

The World Bank has said the project is at the heart of its relationship with PNG.

The National newspaper reported Mr Pruaitch as saying the lobby tried using other ministers to get the Prime Minister to sack him.

Mr Pruaitch says his position regarding forestry development and the World Bank's Forest Conservation Project is the official government position.

He says the World Bank will not dictate terms in PNG.

Mr Pruaitch says the bank tried to use the Treasury minister's trip to the World Bank AGM in Washington as leverage to get him fired.

The minister, Bart Philemon, is in Washing to seek more financial assistance from the Bank and the IMF.

Mr Pruaitch says he delayed the Bank Conservation Project, which was to start this week, because there was not enough consultation.