PNG political leaders at odds over Oil Search sale

11:32 am on 26 September 2017

Political leaders in Papua New Guinea are at odds over the sale of the state's shares in the company, Oil Search.

This comes after the government sold off the last of its shares from a controversial purchase in 2014 for which it borrowed nearly $US1 billion from UBS bank.

The Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, said the state had made about US$30 million from the sale.

He claimed that in 2014 action had to be taken to protect the interests of the state, and investment in the country's largest resources company was the right move.

Mr O'Neill said the government's intervention to buy the shares had a positive influence on the direction Oil Search had taken and boosted investor confidence in PNG.

But his attorney general at the time, Kerenga Kua, who's now in opposition, said the sale was an admittance by the government that its controversial acquisition was flawed from the start.

He said the prime minister was advised not to proceed with the sale but he recklessly chose to do it anyway.

Mr Kua said there had been no transparency and he called for the O'Neill government to reveal the true extent of the damage the huge UBS loan inflicted on the country.