Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP has urged Oil Search to pay its fair share of tax due to the Government and people of Papua New Guinea.
Mr Marape was speaking at the occasion to mark the 90th anniversary of Oil Search operations in the country last week.
He said Oil Search and PNG Government have been sharing this journey for a long time since PNG gained independence in 1975.
“I like to believe that PNG governments in the past and present have had quite a significant input into what Oil Search is today and without that support, Oil Search shares will still be pegging along the same track as Santos and many of the companies operating in the country.
“I want to pay my respects to the landowners of the entire areas in which Oil Search has operated since 1929, some of them here tonight, me included.
“But as we sit in the porch, affluent modern 21st century environment, tossing to the occasion lest we forget the tribesmen and women whose territory we operate in are still living a life of the 19th century,” said Prime Minister Marape.
He urged Oil Search and other companies in the oil and mining industry to have the landowners involved in the downstream processing of their resources.
“I ask us to focus on them as we move into the future and Oil Search and your peers in the industry is for you to respect our laws, policies and regulations we’ve had in the past, exist today and further configuration of laws and policies we all make, so that our people, shareholders in the industry can benefit.
“They are the shareholders in this country but are still lacking behind into the 21st century.
“We saw life, as Oil Search started in 1929 it was just manual labour operation and moved from that era into digital age of operation in 2019.
“We will celebrate 100 years of Oil Search in 2029. I may never be a politician in 2029 but I want to lead this country far better almost equivalent to most of Oil Search and Exxon Mobil shareholders who live better life. I want to lift the life of PNG citizens to live the same life they lived.
“For every time; you still live in all the licences that you hold; deserves a same life you live in Port Moresby. A life where easy access to medicine is there for them; life where better school not just school and free education but school with quality interventions; life where when traveling on sealed roads; life where electricity is in the houses and homes,” said Prime Minister Marape.
He also thanked Oil Search for many of their interventions in communities where it operates, but placed on record that is really not its core mandate.
“You shouldn’t be doing that, you are doing that out of generosity and heart and obligations because you are living in those environments.
“So going into the future we will not be asking much of you in terms of community service obligations but we will be asking you to pay your fair share of tax.
“We will be asking you and others in the industry for a greater participation in downstream processing; we will be asking you for clearer better definition of what local content is.
“So that together as we celebrate 100 years of your existence in our country and your country; together we can show better pictures than kids going to hospitals that are amended by doctors and medicines lacking behind.
“That’s the story I want to tell you in 2029 and I’m sad but it’s not your business it’s my business and I’m appealing to the consensus of government, what you saw up there are my tribesmen and women,’’ he said.
Prime Minister Marape also told those present that from the hinterlands of Southern Highlands to the floors of Kikori plains and right down to Port Moresby, the stories are similar right across the country.
“I just came back from Ok Tedi, not so long ago and people are still behind. In a village called Mingerum from 1971-1976, they lived in the face of Ok Tedi but the story is still the same.
“They still are way behind and so our Government is in the business of ensuring that we don’t harm our investors but we work in greater partnerships to ensure that these people are still not left behind but lifted up so we can share in the profits that terminate from the land of PNG.
“When PNG is healthy, when no child is left behind, your dividend flow to your shareholders will continue to flow in huge abundance.
“We don’t want to run the risk and danger of living majority behind and few are affluent and seeking better for their kids.
“’For those who are left behind, their children will haunt the memories and will haunt our future and that is the challenge we face about giving opportunity to those out there to celebrate life.
“Most of them are not your fault but as the Government, we have been doing business over the years. So we are in the process of making those corrections so that companies like Oil Search and Exxon Mobil are not burden to community obligations. However, the Government seem to be doing better to these people that is why we are still in the business.