By Staff Reporter : PNG Today
Open Letter to Minister Justin Tkatchenko
Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC) takes great offence at the factually incorrect and defamatory assertions you raised during your press conference of 13th February 2017.
PHDC has indefeasible title over Paga Hill, winning every legal challenge in District, National and Supreme Courts. Your suggestion that the title’s acquisition should be the subject of further investigation is without basis and contemptuous of multiple court rulings.
Illegal Squatter Settlement Relocation
Despite not being required to do so, PHDC spent millions in humanely resettling the illegal Paga Hill squatters. This included the donation of blocks of land (which in some cases have been on-sold), as well as the provision of civil works, water, power and ablution facilities. In addition, PHDC provided business and literacy training through the Ginigoada Foundation, community governance support and security at site. Following this extensive and prolonged support, the community was officially handed over in a ceremony in October 2014. During the ceremony, Mr Roy Trivedy, Head of the United Nations in PNG, publicly commended our achievements and the example it set. This ceremony marked the official end of PHDC’s involvement (although we continued to provide support) – PHDC were never, nor cannot be held responsible for the ongoing welfare of this community. Given just 3% of land is State Land available for development, together with the phenomena of urban drift putting increasing pressures on cities like Port Moresby, such challenges will continue to be faced and is something politicians like you should be addressing. Rather, you completely failed in your role as the local Member of Parliament. In no way have you, these people’s elected representative, assisted any of these landmark efforts, and to attend the site now, so close to an election, is a blatant and shallow attempt to discredit these achievements, divert attention from your own inactions and stir the political pot for your own selfish purposes.
Contradiction to Cabinet Decisions and Government Representations
The issues you raise in your press conference are in stark contradiction to Cabinet decisions which you yourself were party to. Namely, the 2012 declaration of Paga Hill Estate as a ‘Project of National Significance’, the declaration in October 2015 of Paga Hill Estate as a preferred location for the hosting of APEC 2018 (which also happens to fall within your ministerial portfolio), as well as the December 2016 recognition of Paga Hill ‘Tourism City’ and approval of fiscal incentives for Paga Hill Estate in an attempt to attract foreign direct investment. Furthermore, The Hon Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, during his visit to China July 2016, presented Paga Hill Estate to the Chinese state-owned company China Harbour Engineering Corporation, and the Hon NCD Governor Powes Parkop similarly launched the project in Shenzhen, China in May 2016. Finally, as recently as 26th January 2017, Hon Tobias Kulang, Minister for Tourism, Arts & Culture launched an international Expression of Interest process at National Parliament House. All of these actions are clear demonstrations of government support for the Paga Hill Estate project, as well as its diverse range of benefits to the country. Whilst we actively pursue the hotel in readiness for APEC, which is within your very ministerial portfolio, your bizarre and incomprehensible actions serve to potentially undermine our and Government’s efforts, deterring foreign investment and job opportunities for the likes of your own constituents.
Paga Hill Tourism City
The vision for Paga Hill Estate is one of truly national significance, and is far bigger than any one electorate, or any one summit. We have been working closely with the PNG Government through Minister for Tourism, Arts & Culture, Hon Tobias Kulang, and Minister Richard Maru, Minister for Trade, Commerce & Industry, progressing a whole-of-PNG strategy for Paga Hill Estate to sustainably boost the nation’s tourism industry, as well as trigger a more diversified local economy. These leaders are presenting a strong, supportive and unified front to foreign investors as we look to position Papua New Guinea as a viable place to visit and do business. We passionately pursue our vision with such leaders’ support, who fully appreciate the incredible potential this project holds for the nation as a whole. In contrast, your incongruous arguments put you at odds to your Cabinet, the Courts, foreign investment, the development of a better Port Moresby, the creation of jobs, as well as the interests of your very constituents.
International Expression of Interest Process
In what is an incredible achievement for the development, as well as PNG as a whole, PHDC has established a highly respected and accomplished Advisory Board. These Board members are in the process of presenting the opportunity to many of their extensive network, receiving a high level of interest from major developers and funders from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. In a Cabinet decision that you were also party to, fiscal incentives have been approved for Paga Hill Estate in attempt to attract such foreign direct investment to the country, creating much needed jobs and economic stimulus. Your recent actions stand to hinder this process and are in contrast to Government decisions that you were party to. Worse, they are a shallow attempt at chasing votes at the expense of a genuinely exciting project that will benefit all Papua New Guineans.
Request for an Immediate Retraction
PHDC has spent tens of millions to date, as is evident from designs, approvals and civil works already carried out, and is now pursuing approximately K3 billion funding to pursue a transformative vision for Port Moresby, one that will create thousands of jobs, uplift the city’s tourist infrastructure and trigger a more diversified local economy. Your defamatory statements are without basis and are in contradiction to Cabinet decisions which you were party to. Further, these actions put our international Expression of Interest process under unnecessary threat, a process that stands to benefit Papua New Guinea as a whole, including those from within your electorate. We therefore provide you with the opportunity to immediately retract your defamatory and baseless statements in relation to our squatter resettlement initiative and title acquisition. Should this not be received by close of business, Thursday 16th February, we reserve our right to pursue legal action against you personally.