7 Jan 2004

PNG's Acting Fisheries Minister removed for unauthorised license approval

8:28 am on 7 January 2004

The Acting Fisheries minister in Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neil, has been removed from his ministry following his unauthorised approval of 17 fishing licences to Asian companies.

The Post Courier reports that prime minister Sir Michael Somare, who is currently in Thailand, instructed that Mr O'Neil be stripped of his acting capacity.

Sir Michael is reportedly very upset over the matter because of its potential to harm the government's efforts to promote good governance.

However Mr O'Neil will remain in his position of Public Service minister.

The National Fisheries Authority has confirmed that Mr O'Neil ignored procedures and approved 17 licences within three days.

The NFA says the licences were immediately revoked upon discovery because only the authority has the power of approval.