13 Nov 2008

PNG Opposition Leader calls govt to delay signing deal with Abu Dhabi company

11:52 am on 13 November 2008

The Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader, Sir Mekere Morauta, has called on the Government to delay signing a deal with an Abu Dhabi company to secure finance for its share of the huge gas project development.

The bond deal with IPIC is Abu Dhabi is for one point six billion US dollars.

The Gulf Daily News has indicated the signing of the deal is imminent.

And the Post Courier newspaper reports, Arthur Somare, the Public Enterprises Minister, who's in charge of gas project dealings for the Government, has also indicated an agreement is to be signed soon.

Sir Mekere Morauta says leaked papers from the Treasury Secretary, Simon Tosali, show he has told Mr Somare's chief advisor the deal is risky and does not need to be done yet, especially when the full project may not go ahead.

Sir Mekere says it makes no sense to put one of the country's most valuable assets, its shares in Oil Search, at risk.

He says the Government could appoint a third party to assess the risks and advantage of the bond deal and compare them with other financing options.