Social Concerns Notes – March 2011

Social Concerns Notes – March 2011 accessed 2 Mar

UN to investigate alleged PNG human rights violations

The United Nations has expressed concerns over claims Papua New Guinea security forces may have violated the rights of refugees from the Papua province of Indonesia.

It follows the removal of more than 100 West Papuans from settlements in PNG’s West Sepik province to a UN refugee camp in the Western province.

Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker: Ms Walpurga Englbrecht, UNHCR’s PNG Representative accessed 3 Mar

By Aloysius Laukai

The Bishop of Bougainville, Bishop Bernard Unabali does not support the opening of so many mines on Bougainville.

He says that the island of Bougainville is very small and its environment can be destroyed if mining is allowed all over Bougainville.

The Bishop says that he will only support the opening of the Panguna mine if environmental issues along the tailings are properly addressed.

Bishop Bernard told reporters in Buka that he was concerned as the island could lose its forest, flora and fauna and the river systems if several mines were opened on Bougainville.

Meanwhile on the Chinese investments on Bougainville, Bishop Bernard also wants the ABG to set up a good policy that can attract investments on Bougainville.

He said that whilst the President may be dealing with credible organizations and companies now, other companies that would come in later may not be so good therefore a good policy can control these activities.

The Bishop of Bougainville said that to save guard Bougainville a good controlling mechanism must be established. accessed 3 Mar

By Aloysius Laukai

Bishop of Bougainville Diocese, BISHOP BENARD UNABALI is calling on the ABG to involve the Catholic church in many of its programs in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville .

He told a Press conference yesterday that many times the church is asked to assist when they face problems already.

Bishop Benard Unabali said that the church has more than One Hundred years of involvement with the people of Bougainville and should be taken on board as a major stakeholder.

He was commenting on the current discussions on Panguna where the church is again left out. accessed 2 Mars

Kananam landowners question Minister’s interest to approve PMIZ

AMID resistance on the ground Minister for Environment and Conservation, Benny Allen is coming to Madang in March to ‘approve in principle’ the PMIZ project.
The people of Kananam are asking “what is the minister trying to do when we have outstanding issues with RD Tuna Canners and phase one of the PMIZ project? What is Mr Allen trying to do when the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) has not been properly explained to us?”
It seems the EIS is not able to suggest mitigation plans, so what is the minister thinking? Can the minister please explain to us what an ‘approval in principle’ is?
These and many other questions are boggling minds at Kananam but who will listen?
The awareness team was not welcomed on Krangket island for lack of transparency in the decisions regarding PMIZ and an attempt to make the people swallow a shallow awareness that the people knew already what it was trying to achieve. So what is the government trying to do now, when things are still not clear?, asks Mr Francis Gem, leader of Idawan Association of Kananam.
Mr Gem emphasized that all these talks about PMIZ must stop and current issues related to the initial stages of this project must be dealt with first.
Mr Gem said, there are no Memorandum of Understanding and there is no informed consent, so how can he (Mr Allen) want to approve the project? What is his interest in this project? accessed 9 Mar

Ramu mine has massive sulphuric acid plant

The processing plant for the Ramu nickel mine at Basamuk Bay in Papua New Guinea includes a sulphuric acid production unit that will produce a huge 3,350 tonnes of  98.5% pure sulphuric acid every day during the life of the mine.

The acid will be used in the high pressure acid leach, lime boil and solvent extraction stages within the refinery.

The acid production plant will be fed with 360,000 tonnes of sulphur per annum which will be bulk shipped to the processing plant.

Local landowners have recently been warned to stay out of the sea around the refinery site due to a chemical spill last week. They have also been told not to eat any food from the sea and not to do any fishing. Fish and other marine life are an important part of the diet for local people who rely on a traditional lifestyle. accessed 9 Mar

PNG Not prepared for LNG Impact  OP.ED

PAPUA New Guinea is ill-prepared for the impact of LNG. Up to now, the project has been thought of as something that might happen and that, if it did, it would impact the financial and economic sectors of the country and little else. Such thoughts are drawn from the shallow pool of ignorance and PNG pays a hefty price for ignorance.

Ill-prepared, both as a government and as a people, the full benefits of any resource project have overflown PNG entirely, leaving it to flounder in their wake and fighting over pet fodder such as royalties and taxes while the prized steak in substantial control and ownership and, in major spin-off contracts, have been left in the control of the multi-national conglomerates. Bougainville, Ok Tedi, Misima, Kainantu and Kutubu oil have come and go.

There is absolutely nothing to show for them. The reason is simply ignorance. Ignorance and a rather peculiar reluctance to learn from past lessons. That especial, if tragic, trait of PNG’s persists today and is about to hit PNG with the force of a tornado with the advent of the LNG project.

Nobody in this fair country will be untouched by its impact. Unless adequate protection is garnered on emergency footing right away, when the eerie peace and quiet that always comes in the aftermath of such a storm finally settles in 30 or so years, it will be upon a strange landscape – the same land but devoid of life and energy and filled with vultures, hyenas and carrion feeders of every kind that walks the earth. In another sense, PNG will never be the same again. The LNG projects, ExxonMobil’s as well as the one promoted by InterOil, will change the face of PNG.

As we have heard in the Asian inquiry, there are 14,000 applications for work permits alone from the LNG and only nine persons to process them. Word is now that when the project goes into full construction stage, there will be a need to process 50,000 visas. Is there capacity at the PNG immigrations and citizenship agency to process that kind of workload? Be sure that hiding among that throng coming in will be the vultures and the hyenas. They got to be stopped at the door.

The real estate industry in PNG is feeling the first direct impact of the project. The project has taken up most of the new residential buildings in Port Moresby at some previously unheard of sum per week for a unit. This has pushed up all other real estate prices so that housing, which has always been expensive, is now well beyond any individual – expatriate or national. Other industries will follow this upward trend. Already, in the Southern Highlands and elsewhere, schools are emptying of teachers as they seek hardship allowances and better terms and conditions of employment. They are not stupid.

Even unskilled labourers in the LNG project are getting paid double and triple the teachers’ salaries. This will have massive impact upon education. Students themselves will be reluctant to go to school. Education in PNG has always been promoted, quite wrongly as it turns out, as the way to a decent job and cash. Why go to school with so much money pouring out of the project? Remain ignorant and continue to be fed trash. Bad logic but immediately feasible and attractive – no work involved.

The agriculture and the fledgling manufacturing sectors, which have never received much attention in the past, will be the first lambs on the sacrificial altar. As the LNG project drives costs, including the cost of labour, up, it will become uneconomical to run factories or plantations. The cost of labour will be too expensive. Cost of factory inputs and fertilisers and fuel will go up. Factories will shut their doors and plantations and estates will be reclaimed by the bush.

For 30 years, nobody will notice – everybody being busy and employed. When the gas is all pumped out, that is when everybody starts looking around for the factories and the plantation sector and they will not be there. That is the phenomenon that is called the resources curse or the Dutch Disease.

By then, PNG will be permeated thoroughly with its contagion. A cash-rich nation will suddenly find, when the source of the cash is dried up, that there is no other source left to turn to.

The National 8 March: BSP: K283.15m net profit

BANK South Pacific posted an after tax profit of K283.15 million for the financial year 2010.
The bank also announced that its assets as of December last year were worth K8.655 billion, up 6% from December 2009.
BSP chairman Kostas Constantinou made the disclosure in a financial result submitted to the Port Moresby Stock Exchange.
The bank’s pre-tax profit was K402.10 million, up 6% from K377.96 million posted at the end of 2009. accessed 11 Mar

PMIZ loan from China is a terrible deal for PNG

By PMIZ Watcher

The loan agreement signed between the Papua New Guinea government and China’s Eximbank, to fund development of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone is a terrible deal for PNG. Putting aside the fact that PMIZ promises to be a disaster for Madang, repeating and expanding all the terrible social and environmental impacts of the existing RD Tuna fishing project, the US$70 million loan agreement signed with China means PNG will be paying for China’s continued economic expansion and business profits.

Interest and repayments

Like any loan, the PMIZ loan will have to be paid back and with interest added. Although the loan agreement gives PNG a five-year grace period before loan repayments start, that only adds to the length of the loan and the amount of interest that will ultimately accrue.

If PNG was serious about finding the money to pay for the PMIZ why not just plug a few of the holes in the Department of Finance through which billions of dollars of public money are being lost every year? PNG doesn’t need to be borrowing more money and we shouldn’t be saddling the next generation with more debt to repay.

Loan conditions

The loan conditions are where the real devil lies in this agreement.

The contract stipulates that 70 percent of the project (worth US$35 million) must go exclusively to a Chinese developer using Chinese technology, labour and equipment.

So the people of PNG will be paying for a Chinese company to come and build the Pacific Marine Industrial loan using Chinese labour and Chinese equipment and Chinese supplies. Where is the benefit here for PNG?

What about all the local people who would like the opportunity to be employed? What about all our college and university graduates without jobs? What about all the PNG based companies who could supply goods and equipment? But that is not all. Under the loan agreement the Chinese developer is guaranteed a profit of 20% – at least US$7 million! Why are people of PNG being forced to pay a guaranteed profit to a Chinese company?

It seems the PNG government have signed a loan agreement under which all the benefits will flow back to China and it is the people of PNG who are going to be paying to increase China’s economic wealth!  Why are people of PNG being forced to pay a guaranteed profit to a Chinese company?

It seems the PNG government have signed a loan agreement under which all the benefits will flow back to China and it is the people of PNG who are going to be paying to increase China’s economic wealth!

The National 10 March: Only 10 agencies accountable in 2009

TEN out of about 1,140 government entities in PNG have proven to be accountable in 2009 with their use of public money, as heard during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry yesterday.
This was made known to the PAC late last year by the Auditor-General George Sullimann.
“Not one national government department, provincial government, local level government, hospital board or provincial commercial entity is included.
“Hundreds of audits were disclaimed for want of information, records, accounts, reposts and other legally required records,” the PAC stated. accessed 17 mar

EIS paints a terrible picture of PMIZ impacts

By PMIZ Watcher

The Environmental Impact Assessment for the government’s Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang paints a terrible picture of the likely social and environmental impacts of the project.

The 39-page EIS was prepared by the Department of Commerce and Industry in June 2010 and submitted to the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Although the EIS reveals local communities are “opposing the project”; the land clearance will have “significant human health and welfare implications”; the area “has immense significance in biodiversity, aesthetics and tourism”; and the land clearance work “will seriously affect local fishing grounds, nearby on-shore reefs and mangrove systems” which are home to globally endangered species, Environment Minister, Benny Allen, last week approved the project.

The EIS says local communities oppose the project because of issues over “land, participation and environment degradation” and these socio-cultural issues “could eventually undermine the economic viability of the project”. Local communities, say the EIS, argue the land for the PMIZ was “acquired fraudulently” by RD Tuna and the government.

The EIS says labor importation will be needed to meet scheduled goals and objectives. People from within PNG and abroad will work within the project. Health issues may include STDs and HIV/Aids, typhoid, cholera and dysentery and conflicts between local communities and imported workers. The PMIZ will lead to an increase in squatter settlements and encroachment onto customary land.

Other human and health risks disclosed in the EIS include sewerage spills; loss of subsistence use of land, recreation and local economic opportunities; destruction of cultural sites, tourism potential and aesthetic values; and transmittable diseases.

The EIS reveals local women are already “forced to exchange sex for fish” and the PMIZ will increase this problem. At the existing RD tuna cannery, “employment conditions for local workers are poor” and local communities say the factory has not brought tangible benefits.

The EIS describes Madang lagoon as the largest and most ecologically diverse on this stretch of coast – which is known to be a hot-spot for marine benthic invertebrates. The lagoon has an unusually rich biodiversity and is “conservatively estimated” to contain 700 species of coral and 1,000+ species of reef fish.

An amazing variety of new marine species have been discovered in and around Madang lagoon in recent years, broadening our knowledge of fishes, soft and hard corals, nudibranchs, flatworms, polychete worms, sea stars, feather stars, amphipods and sea cucumber to name a few.

The EIS says there are two endemic species of fish and two globally endangered fish species in the area. Also two species of globally endangered turtles have been sighted in the project area. The EIS says the lagoon is home to three endangered mammal species. On land, four fauna species are listed in CITES Appendix 2 – rainbow lorikeet, eclectus parrot, freshwater crocodile and lizard.

The EIS covers the site development activities only and not the construction of the planned industrial factories and facilities.

The PMIZ will eventually include a wharf and pier, fish port and canneries, cold storage facility, fuel depot, roads, residential complex, water treatment and electricity plants, container terminal and administrative buildings.

PORT MORESBY, 16 March 2011 (IRIN) – Government officials in Papua New Guinea’s national health department have received massive kickbacks from pharmaceutical drug suppliers in a scandal that had been going on for nearly 10 years, but moves are afoot to tackle the problem, health officials say.

Payments by medical suppliers to government officials for favours had run into the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars, said the head of the country’s National Health Department (NDOH), Clement Malau, as well as senior hospital officers. accessed 28 Mar

Latest log export data

The latest round log export data from SGS shows that Papua New Guinea exported 3 million cubic metres of round logs in 2010, almost a 50% on 2009.

China remains the main export destination, increasing its export share from 83% in 2008 and 2009 to 86% in 2010.

Year Quantity m3 Value US$ China vol China %
2008 2,584,298 189,950,784 2,152,577 83
2009 2,093,193 169,933,857 1,743,156 83
2010 2,999,467 272,030,754 2,574,164 86 accessed 28 Mar

Construction set to commence on PNG LNG Pipeline

An international consortium is set to bring Papua New Guinea’s vast onshore petroleum resources to market, with the construction of an 850 km, large-diameter pipeline. Pipelines International spoke with the operator Esso Highlands to get the latest.

Construction activities are ramping up on the Papua New Guinea (PNG) LNG Project moving into the second quarter of 2011. Linepipe for the onshore gas pipeline has been arriving at the expanded shore base at Kopi, and clearing of the pipeline right-of-way has commenced. The manufacture of linepipe, including internal coating and concrete weight coating, is complete for the offshore section of the pipeline.

The project involves a two-train, 6.6 MMt/a LNG processing facility, and the integrated development of the Hides, Angore and Juha gas fields, as well as associated gas from the Kutubu, Agogo, Gobe and Moran oil fields.

The gas will be transported to the LNG plant near Port Moresby through approximately 850 km of onshore and offshore large diameter pipeline.

The onshore pipeline and affiliated infrastructure will be built by a French company Spiecapag. The onshore section will consist of a buried pipeline overland from Hides gas plant to the Omati River landfall, a distance of approximately 300km

Construction of the offshore pipeline will be undertaken by Italian company Saipem.  The work includes transportation and installation of 407km, 34 inch diameter subsea gas pipeline from the omati River landfall point on the southern coast of PNG to the onshore point near Port Moresby, where the LNG plant will be located.

Due to PNG’s extreme undulating terrain, an airport is being constructed at Komo in the SHP in a join venture between McConnel Dowell and Consolidated Contractors.

The runway will be 3.2 km long, which compares with the length of major international airports – Heathrow’s longest runway is 3.9km.

The length of the runway is because it will be receiving Antonov AN-124 aircrift that will be bringing in materials for the PNG LNG upstream facilities over a six-month period.  In the long term, Dash-8 aircraft will be the most frequent users of the airport.

The LNG Project is expected to deliver its first LNG shipments by late 2013 or early 2014.  Joint venture participants include Eon Mobil subsidiary Esso Highlands as operator (33.2 per cent), Oil Search (29 percent), the PNG Government (16.6 percent), Santos (13.5 percent), Nippon Oil (4.7 percent), Mineral Resources Development (2.8 percent) and Petromin PNG Holdings Ltd (0.2 percent)).

TN 29 March 11: Revealing report on customary land

MORE than 2.6 million hectares of land have passed from customary landowners to non-indigenous companies in the last year, it has been revealed.
The Centre for Environmental and Community Rights (CELCOR) said in a report to the UN Human Rights Office that an ingenious manipulation of the special agricultural and business leases (SABL) arrangement, with the tacit support of land officers, now posed a significant threat to major tracts of customary land throughout the country.
Land transacted in this manner is taken from the traditional landowners for 99 years and has been described as worrisome by CELCOR.
This and other concerns were raised in a 90-page report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Office by CELCOR and four other non-governmental organisations during its 78th session of the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination last month.
The report highlighted the main purpose of the SABL and its intent with regards to the lease-lease back process, through which landowners by law are supposed to get their land  back unless a consent is given for a subsequent lease to a third party.
The report said such leases are still being abused by mining, logging and other companies.
“There is evidence and growing concern in PNG that the protections offered by the Land Act (1996) are not adequately observed and that the SABL process is increasingly being used to alienate customary land, in fact, if not in law.
“This is especially troubling given that the logging and mining sectors as a whole in PNG had been under scrutiny for wide-spread violations of human rights for many years.
“The number of SABLs granted by PNG has risen rapidly in the past year. When a SABL is issued it must, by law, be published in the national gazette.
“A review of the announced SABL issued by the government in the past 13 months (updated last January) reveals that no less than 2.6 million hectares of customary lands have been granted in SABL to non-indigenous companies and other entities.
“In this total of 68 leases or extensions to leases in the last year, the majority has been for 99 years despite the stated policy of the Lands and Physical Planning department that leases to non-indigenous entities over customary lands should be between only 10 years and 20 years,” the report said.
The matter is serious enough for PNG Ambassador to the UN, Robert Aisi, to take the matter personally to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Aisi pointed out the following poignant facts in his letter to the OHCHR:
* Indigenous lands under threat of alienation through the governments practice to issue SABL to non-indigenous companies as allowed by Land Act 1996;
* The acceleration of these SABL without seeking the consent of the landowners concerned as required under the same Act;
* The sidelining of landowners in these “sign off ceremonies”. Most do not know the purpose for which the land is acquired and the environmental damages planned by these companies;
* The alleged denial of access to judicial remedies by the Compensation (Prohibition of Foreign Legal Proceedings) Act (1996), to seek redress before foreign courts, including compensation for environmental destruction;
* The newly-amended Environmental Act 2010, which denies the people’s rights from seeking redress before national courts against environmental permits granted; and
* The NGO committee have urged the state to provide information to them on measures taken which will not result in a total land alienation exercise; that the state informs the landowners at all levels of consultations by which consent must be seen to be given and the fair representation in court in the case of any violation.
A response by Anwar Kemal, the Chairperson of the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, one of the committees of the UN, has been given to the government to respond to these issues before July 31.

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