10 October 2015
PNG Power fears

PNG Bankers Union president Anton Sekum has warned that “politicians and their cronies” are disrupting plans to privatise PNG Power for their own gain.

PNG Power logo.

The union chief made startling claims to the Post-Courier after plans for PNG Power workers to gain equity participation in a proposed public offering of the utility fell off the bargaining table.

In what seems to be a reference to the resignation of PNG Power chief executive officer Tony Koiri two weeks ago, Sekum reportedly said recent changes at the top of PNG Power were politically motivated.

“The people of PNG have been fooled once again and they will be the biggest losers,” he reportedly said.

“This is not a genuine privatisation process as they initially promised. On the contrary, it amounts to state asset stripping for the benefit of politicians and their cronies. We call for total transparency. The public have a right to know how their assets will be disposed off and who will be the new owners. We will expose these politicians and their cronies if they do not do the right thing to declare their interest publicly.”

He further claimed that “cherry picking” of the profitable assets of PNG Power will occur, making the fate of its smaller areas of operation uncertain.

Sekum expected redundancies to occur and flagged possible acquisition activity ahead.

“We reiterate that all staff entitlements must be paid out in full prior to re-engagement by any new entity,” he reportedly said.

The National separately reported PNG Power acting CEO John Tangit as saying that PNG Power workers will not go on a nationwide strike after a resolution was reached on Monday.

He reportedly told the newspaper the strike was to protest the government’s plans to restructure the state-owned enterprise without providing any union consultation.

“The matter was addressed quite clearly on Monday,” Tangit reportedly said.

“PNG Power management will not tolerate any walk off. It’s a bad signal for major investors.”

PNG Power is one of the state-owned enterprises which is subject to cabinet plans to transfer SOEs into new Kumul-named entities.

Enabling legislation is expected to be tabled into parliament in September while an overarching Kumul Trust is expected have former prime ministers as shareholders and current PM Peter O’Neill as trustee.

There are various concerns over what accountability safeguards will be in place under this proposed SOE restructuring.

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