The Papua New Guinea Government is tightening its belt on how it does business with the Chinese.
It is engaging in very tough negotiations with China’s state entities and private individuals to make sure they build in local content into every loan and projects they are pursuing in Papua New Guinea, Post Courier reports.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced this in Parliament, which met for the first time in 2018.
O’Neill said Cabinet has taken note of a reserved list for PNG businesses which responsible authorities had not implemented in the past four years, like trade stores and related retail businesses.
O’Neill was bombarded with questions at Question Time by Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta on Chinese influence in PNG, how Chinese businesses were engaged in reserved activities and how much debt PNG already had sourced from China.
The prime minister said his Government was merely following former governments’, including Sir Mekere’s footsteps.
“This is not the only government that is doing business with China. We are following the footsteps of former governments including the one that he (Sir Mekere) has led. He has made many visits to China, he has been hosted quite well there,” O’Neill said.
“I announce to promote the business of this country. Many governments in the past had borrowed from China. The conditions they adhered to, we are also adhering to today. Where concessional loans received from China had conditions that other governments also signed. We are the only government that is trying to change that.
“In fact we are in very tough negotiations today with the Chinese Government, trying to make sure that we build in local content into every loan and of course projects that we are getting from China, trying to get up at least 50 per cent,” O’Neill said.
“When Minister Richard Maru was Minister for Trade in the last government he brought to Cabinet a reserved list for PNG businesses. Cabinet has already endorsed it, officials are being told to enforce it, the officials who are responsible for this.
“Sometimes also we find that our own citizens are inviting not only Chinese but foreign nationals to go through their community and do business. Sometimes, renting their own premises because they themselves don’t want to do business but they want to be landlords – these are things that we have to restrict right across the country,” O’Neill said.
“We are doing everything possible to making sure that Papua New Guinea’s interest is paramount and we are not borrowing money like the last government – to literally fund the budget.
“What we are borrowing from the Chinese is that we are building infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports, ports and that is what Papua New Guineans will enjoy for years to come.
“If we do not build infrastructure today, we have an increased population, whose going to build the infrastructure for you? We simply do not have enough money in our budget to fund large scale infrastructure.
“The neglect that he has left is the result of what we are seeing now. The neglects of past governments is what we are shouldering. Stop crying foul all the time.”