ORO Governor Gary Juffa has said prime minister Peter O’Neill should sack minister Justin Tkatchenko for misleading the public about the cost of running the annual APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) leaders’ forum, scheduled for Port Moresby over two days in 2018.
Governor Juffa said Tkatchenko (pictured), who is the minister responsible for APEC, had said the forum budget would be K600 million, which Juffa believes is a greatly inflated figure. O’Neill says the number “has been taken out of thin air” by the opposition.
But Tkatchenko had already admitted to a recent TV Wan ‘Nau’ talkback program that the cost would be “over K600 million over the next two years.”
“This is too much,” said Juffa, “when there are very important issues in the country that need immediate funding,” adding that Tkatchenko should be sacked for misleading the PNG people.
Juffa said he was not against staging APEC but that Papua New Guineans had the right to know how much of their money was being spent on major events and whether they would benefit from such spending.
“We cannot pretend that we are OK by staging international events that costs a lot of money when our people do not have access to basic services,” he said.
Earlier O’Neill had welcomed the beginning of work on the site of the new APEC Haus that be the central focus of the leaders’ summit
O’Neill said the edifice (left), being built on reclaimed land at the juncture of Ela Beach and the Paga Hill Ring Road, will be the centrepoint of global attention during APEC and, thereafter, will be a national icon used by generations of Papua New Guineans.
“The building will have two levels on an island that is being reclaimed just off the foreshore,” O’Neill said. “The design is based on the shape of a lakatoi sail and will showcase the sailing tradition of our people.
“For Papua New Guinea APEC will be a chance to showcase our country and our economy to the rest of the world. Across the Asia-Pacific and around the world people will learn more about Papua New Guinea, our culture and traditions, and the investment opportunities in our country.
“After APEC the building will serve a number of purposes including weddings and musical events, shops and restaurants, and will likely have a museum of national artefacts. The room where leaders meet will likely be kept in place after the meeting and become a tourist attraction and host board meetings and other events.
“In other countries where they have kept their meeting table people love to come and sit in the same seat and desk where the American, Chinese or Russian president sat.”
Tkatchenko has just announced that three large cruise liners will be brought to PNG to accommodate 5,000 guests from the 21 countries at the summit.
The ships will be moored off Ela Beach and, according to Tkatchenko, will be “a spectacular feature”.
Meanwhile, a new Hilton hotel along with two other hotels are under construction in Port Moresby. The Stanley, PNG’s first five star hotel, opened this month at Waigani.
PNG leaders say the APEC event will be the biggest in the country since Independence in 1975. The Australian Defence Force will be helping PNG police to beef up their intelligence systems ahead of the summit.