Govt has no choice over UBS loan

By STARZA PAUL

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said that the government had no choice but to borrow the USB loan of more than K3 billion to pay for the Oil Search shares.

“In respect to the Oil Search shares, we absolutely had no choice as they were mortgaged and they exercised their rights under the mortgage.

“We had to borrow this loan (UBS) to pay for the shares and we could have lost millions of kina if we had not secured the UBS loan,” said Mr O’Neill.

Mr O’Neill explained that to buy a single share it costs US$250 million and he can only clear this through published accounts of Kumul Petroleum Holdings which he claimed were audited reports published online yearly and urged the public to access it.

The PM explained that for the previous PNG LNG agreement, a total of 4.27 per cent shares was promised to the landowners and the provincial governments by the National Alliance led government.

“For the case of PNG LNG case a 4.27 per cent of the shares was promised to the landowners and the provincial governments but to be paid for, an agreement between the landowners and NA led government.

“How can a poor landowner afford this billions of kina and the blame is with the NA led government for lying to the people with this deal.

“Where can these poor landowners afford these billions of dollars and how can they go and borrow these amounts,” questioned Mr O’Neill.

Tari-Pori MP and Former Finance Minister James Marape questioned PM O’Neill through a series of supplementary questions on whether Mr O’Neill had any choice not to borrow the UBS loans.

“My question to the PM is whether you had any choice or not to borrow the controversial UBS loan that is posed to cost this country millions of kina in repayments also in the process lost billions of kina,” Mr Marape questioned.

Hela Governor Phillip Undialu supported the call by Mr Marape and pointed out that PM O’Neill lied to his people when he made an election campaign commitment in 2017 to release the shares to the people at cost free.

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