THE CLOSURE OF THE PANGUNA copper mine in Bougainville and the low commodity prices of our agricultural products in the early 1990s meant the economy was struggling to sustain Papua New Guinea.
It was during this period that Sir Mekere Morauta in coalition with Sir Michael Somare succeeded in a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the then prime minister and took over the captaincy of PNG.
Sir Mekere's government inherited a country hardly able to meet its debt, pay for its workers or maintain its institutions.
The Central Bank had zero reserves and the kina was virtually worthless. Economic, social and political commentators around the region had a few ugly names for PNG including ‘basket case’, ‘banana republic’ and ‘failed state’.
During this period, no one wanted to know about PNG or talk to us except our neighbour, Australia.
It took a great man like Sir Mekere to go begging on behalf of PNG and her people. He also set about rebuilding the country.
Also at this time his government negotiated with BHP Billiton for Ok Tedi to continue to operate after the environmental disaster and PNGSDP was born.
The revenue flow from Panguna was gone and there was none from elsewhere to support the country.
Given this background, it is an incompetent argument that decisions made back then were based on reasons other than the best interests of PNG.
The relevance and necessity of the decisions should be judged on what options, if any, PNG had at that time, and the success and difference PNGSDP has made to the lives of communities around PNG and in Western Province.
It is tempting to sit here in 2013, with the economy booming, and pass judgement about the reasonableness or correctness of the decisions taken in the circumstances that prevailed at that difficult point in our history.