A fishy deal with China: Opposition

THE PNG Party-based opposition is questioning the “secrecy” around the O’Neill government’s plans to secure K6 billion ($A2.7 billion) of Chinese finance.
A fishy deal with China: Opposition A fishy deal with China: Opposition A fishy deal with China: Opposition A fishy deal with China: Opposition A fishy deal with China: Opposition

Back in May, Works and Transport Minister Francis Awesa flagged K6.4 billion worth of Chinese finance could be secured at low interest rates to upgrade the troubled Highlands Highway.

O'Neill is in China and according to Xinhua today he even supported China's stance in relation to a dispute over the ownership of Diaoyu Islands with the Japanese government.

"Both China and Papua New Guinea were victims to the Japanese fascist invasion back in the Second World War," Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang reportedly said.

With Chinese financing on the cards, the opposition is questioning why O'Neill has "circumvented the Department of Treasury in the loan arrangements" when it must negotiate and manage public loans on behalf of the government.

"We understand from sources inside the Department of Works and Transport that the Prime Minister is converting the Department into a State- Owned Enterprise," the opposition said in a press release.

"The K6.0 billion loan will be parked and managed through this new entity outside of the Department of Treasury."

The Opposition questioned why O'Neill has rushed to China in his first few days of office since the election and it wants to know what the structure, terms and conditions of any Chinese loan will be.

"What is the K6.0 billion going to be used for? Is there an infrastructure development plan? If there is a Plan, what are the details of the plan and why was this not publicly disclosed?

"We say this is a fishy deal that is entered into under the pretext of national interest."

Public sector debt reached K7,495.3 million by the end of March and the opposition said the K6 billion loan would push total public debt to K14.6 billion or 45% of GDP.

It claimed this debt level will "hasten" PNG's economic ruin.

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