PM denies link with PRS
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has denied that he had shareholding in a shipping company, Pacific Registry of Ships (PRS), which he assisted in getting work by writing to the Transport Secretary.
“I do not have any shareholding in PRS and therefore have no reason to disclose anything to the Ombudsman Commission (OC),” Sir Michael said when responding to questions from Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta.
These questions were raised in the last Parliament, and Somare provided written answers yesterday.
Sir Mekere had asked why he gave directions to the Secretary for Transport and recommended a company which was insolvent and did not qualify under guidelines of International Maritime Organisation.
He also asked whether the Prime Minister had any shares and if so, had he made a declaration to the OC.
Sir Michael said in response: “The intent of my letter was for the department to implement a decision already taken by the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) board.”
“The matter was duly considered by the board, and I have on many instances seen such issues where one person stands in the way of collective decision making.”
Sir Michael said he had been provided a brief by the Department of Transport that stated that the company had never been insolvent.
“The NMSA board had decided to accept the services of PRS on the understanding that it is limited to deal with vessels below 500 gross tonne,” he said.
“Very few local companies in Papua New Guinea can deal with ship surveying. It is a specialised area of work.
“Vessels that are over 500 gross tonnes need to meet standards of both the NMSA and the requirements of IMO.
“Therefore, in this instance, there is no breach to IMO standards and requirements.”
The Prime Minister said he was unaware at the time that a shareholder of PRS was an employee of the chairman of NMSA.
“However, having said this, I do not object to shareholdings by any Papua New Guineans in shipping, and for that matter, any business venture in this country that comply with PNG laws.
He said the ship surveying industry was a specialised field and if ordinary Papua New Guineans want to try their hand, nobody must stand in the way.