29 Oct 2002

World Bank pressure could be splitting PNG's Somare Government

6:00 pm on 29 October 2002

The World Bank's tough stand against the Papua New Guinea government over the forestry issue may be driving a wedge through the middle of the Somare government.

The National newspaper says the government's solidarity is being tested with Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare against the World Bank's stance while Finance minister Bart Philemon says PNG must not be shortsighted and undermine the support of its international donors.

Mr Philemon's comments come after Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe said the World Bank's attitude was impinging on the sovereignty of the country.

Mr Kalinoe has met with World Bank officials to express concern about two Bank conditions which he says impose a super board on top of the National Foresty Board and a time-bound action plan which PNG had to comply with.

A formal letter of concern has also been sent to the World Bank offices in Washington.