It is ten years since the mining and petroleum company left the country and gave its shareholding in the giant Ok Tedi gold and copper mine to the people of PNG.
But BHP retained the right to appoint three of the seven board members of PNGSDP - the vehicle for the PNG people's shareholding.
PNGSDP, a Singapore-based company, is independent of the PNG government and has assets worth $1.4 billion.
Its development program includes everything from roads, wharves and airstrips through to health and education programs, as well as providing help for small business.
Peter O'Neill told Radio Australia it is time for BHP Billiton to take a step backwards.
"I think BHP should take its leave at some stage. I'd rather it be sooner than later. BHP has to learn that it has to move on," he said.
"Papua New Guineans are now capable of managing their own affairs. We don't need affairs to be managed on our behalf from Melbourne.
"We believe it is time that after 10 or 12 years of Sustainable being in operation they relinquish the management to a Papua New Guinean-based, Papua New Guinean-run organisation."
BHP Billiton has not responded to Mr O'Neill's comments but in a statement it said the results achieved by PNGSDP to date reflect very well on the board and all directors in the past 10 years.
It said any changes to the governance arrangements should ensure the ongoing sustainable performance of the company.
PNG-based writer Martyn Namorong is one of many Papua New Guineans who agree with Mr O'Neill that it is time for BHP Billiton to hand over control of its PNGSDP board positions.
"There are enough skills and experience in PNG for Papua New Guineans to be greater involved. And that's sort of a natural follow on from the fact that the mine and the shareholding is now PNG-focused," he said.
"There are some very decent people around and they can take up those roles. They are just not given the opportunity to do that."