Update: 5/12/12: Everyone take a deep breath – the sky is not falling! – PHIL FITZPATRICK
MONDAY’S ARTICLE IN The National and Peter Donigi’s response yesterday about landholder rights need some clarification.
Both articles were about amendments to the Papua New Guinea Mining Act originally proposed by Boka Kondra, now Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, which were taken up by Mines Minister Byron Chan in a new Bill.
The article in The National has got the story wrong. This is not a draconian Bill designed to give landowners exclusive rights to land and minerals. Instead, it is an attempt to come part of the way towards easing the tensions which exist between landowners and miners by giving the former more equity in mining projects.
Response to front page headline by National Newspaper titled “Say No to Land Bill” (3/12/12).
In response to the statement by the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum about their desired outcome at the Sydney Conference, Ambassador Donigi the designer of the Boka Kondra Bills said,
“Mr Anderson and his people are purveyors of scare tactics and are engaging in misrepresentation of the Boka Kondra Bills. They do not want us to preserve our customary law which has served us since time immemorial. Mr Anderson used to be a government officer who influenced the current regime and is now defending the regime from outside government. As a former government officer he and others like him created a regime that benefited foreign capital, a regime that brings in the idea of horizontal boundaries that do not exist in our customary law. Customary law only recognises vertical boundaries to the centre of the earth in relation to ownership of land. They created a regime that will foster fighting between our people while they benefit.. His personal credibility is at stake. He is engaging in the tactics of projecting fear – whose fear – it is his and foreign capital. In the end he will lose – and it will not be too long in coming.”
“Our politicians have to decide whether they will make laws that they were elected to make for the benefit of our people or make laws that will benefit those who do not have a right to vote at our elections but stake their profits on our politicians’ weaknesses. The strength of this nation depends on how we manage our resources for the benefit of landowners – not on how we manage our resources for the benefit of foreign capital.”
“Our people are now more educated than 36 years ago. That is a generation and half. Why would you want to retain a regime that says that you have to go overseas to borrow money to buy back a percentage of what you already own? When you borrow money to buy back what you already own, you create a liability for our future generations and transfer capital which could be better spent internally, overseas. It fosters an outcome of keeping the foreign capital rich and keeping land-owners poor. This is stupidity at its highest level.”
“Anderson says that the provincial and national governments will not benefit from a change in the laws. He is pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Kondra Bills says that the national government will actually make more money than under current regime through taxation without having to borrow money to pay for its equity. The provincial governments will get 4% of the stake and Local-level Governments will be guaranteed 1%. In fact foreign companies take home pay after taxes will be more than 29% and landowners will earn 28% after taxes and the government will get close to 40% based on 30% corporate tax and 17% withholding taxes. The government will be the biggest winner. This is a win/win outcome not the current win/lose outcome. Anderson is lying through his teeth.”