Jumat, 25 Juli 2008

MRA law has clear direction

I wish to respond to the two articles in the media questioning the legality of Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) and composition of the MRA board.
Both mirror the same reports written by James Wanjik over the past two years in questioning the legality of MRA.
It is the same old rhetoric, diatribe and contradictions that the other papers have refused to print because it offers nothing new but the same confusing and illogical arguments on the legality of MRA.
Only the Supreme Court can make a ruling on the legality of MRA. The Authority has continually challenged James Wanjik to take the matter to the Supreme Court for the last two years if he feels so strongly about the legality of MRA. To this day he has not done so but instead uses ignorant people on the issues of MRA.
In the recent report in the media, Sam Kauona’s call on the National Government to convince Bougainvilleans on the legality of MRA is misplaced. It is not for the National Government to convince the Bougainville people on the legality of MRA.
The National Parliament from time to time makes laws for the people of Papua New Guinea including Bougainville, which is still an integral part of PNG until such time that the people of Bougainville decide for themselves that they no longer want to be part of PNG.
The Mining Minister has on two occasions in the last two years stated unequivocally that the Government enacted the MRA Act for the benefit of all the people of PNG and will continue to support MRA.
Only a Supreme Court ruling on the legality of MRA can convince the Government and the Bougainville people that the jurisdiction of MRA does not apply to Bougainville.
Mr Wanjik, continually accuses MRA on the transfer of mining powers to the ABG. Let me state clearly here that MRA — D I D... N O T — initiate and has nothing to do with the request for the transfer of mining powers to the ABG. It was the ABG and the Bougainville people themselves who called on the National Government and Parliament to transfer these powers.
The lead agency in these matters is the Attorney Generals office, because this is to do with the Constitution and interpretation of the laws in this country. MRA does not have the mandate to offer advice on these laws or make decision on such important matters that deal with the Constitution of this country.
Why has Mr Wanjik not accused the Attorney-General’s Office on the transfer of these powers and more importantly the ABG for requesting the National Government for the transfer of these powers. If the ABG Constitution already provides for these powers then why ask the National Government for them? Maybe this gentleman can answer this question.
This again is where Mr Wanjik is confusing himself and his supporters and continues to mix their own issues on the legality of MRA and uses in this instance the Bougainville people and their aspirations for their reasons.
The Bougainville Copper Agreement (BCA) is administered by the MRA after the Mining Department was abolished as provided for by law in the enactment of the MRA Act by Parliament in 2005.
The Mining Minister in his media statement last week clearly stated that Government in its wisdom decided to separate the policy matters from regulatory functions and in doing so established these separate entities in the MRA and the new Mineral Policy Department to effectively administer the mining industry in PNG. In doing so, the BCA was parked in the MRA Act for administrative purposes only as the regulator.
In so far as the reopening of the Panguna mine or otherwise is a matter foremost for landowners of Panguna, the people of Bougainville, the ABG and the National Government to decide — not MRA!
The provisions quoted by Mr Kaona is for the administration of the BCA only, but since the closure of the mine during the Bougainville crisis, MRA and indeed the Department of Mining under Mr Wanjik in administering the BCA have been sensitive to the issues of the Panguna mine.
MRA is not in a rush or in negotiation to reopen the Panguna mine as stated by Mr Kauona in the recent report. The negotiations that are currently ongoing are between the landowners, the ABG and the developer. MRA is not a party to any of their discussions and negotiations.
PNG’s mining industry is robust and functioning thanks to the Mining Act of 1992 and the other supporting laws and is not and will not disintegrate.
These are the same mining laws that Mr Wanjik administered while at the Department of Mining. These are the same mining laws that are administered by MRA and nothing has changed.
The demise of the Zambian mining industry was due to the nationalisation of the mining companies who then packed up and left taking with them their money (capital) and expertise, leaving the industry in tatters. What people have to understand is that owning the resource is not enough to develop these mineral resources?
You need the capital, the expertise and the market to develop these mineral resources. While PNG has the resource, the world business community has the money, the expertise and the markets to make it happen and PNG cannot do these developments in isolation.
This is exactly why the BRDC directors visited the western companies in USA and Europe to invite them to invest in Bougainville because they have the capital, the expertise and the markets. There is a cost in doing business when inviting investors, be it foreign or local who will insist on their terms to lend capital and secure markets.
This fact albeit sank in when agreeing to the split between the investors and BRDC at 70-30% with 70% going to foreign investors, a major contradiction to what BRDC and Mr Wanjik have been saying about local people developing their own resources and benefiting more than foreign investors.
This deal is hardly revolutionary, pace-setting and evolutionary as claim by Mr Kauona.
The report in the media “printed” a letter supposedly written by a landowner of the Porgera mine questioning the composition of the board of MRA. He has gone on to accuse the Prime Minister and members of Parliament for not responding to this letter.
It is a good thing that our leaders have not responded to this very well written letter from a villager on the same issues repeatedly written by Mr Wanjik on the legality of MRA and already responded to by the Mining Minister last year.
MRA is not the first and only authority to have members of the industry and private sector represented on their boards.
The Forest Authority, the National Fisheries Authority, the National Maritime Authority, the Investment Promotion Authority, the National Capital District Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority and the list goes on. Why haven't Mr Wanjik and his supporters criticised the Government on the composition of these boards too?
The MRA board’s role is to administer the organisation only and it does not have the regulatory powers of administrating the Mining Act.
Those powers are vested in the Mining Advisory Council that comprises government agencies only with no representation from the industry.

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