The resignation of Papua New Guinean’s Finance Minister, James Marape, has sent shockwaves through the country’s political circles.
The unexpected announcement came at midday when Mr. Marape held a briefing with the media at his Vulupindi Haus office in Port Moresby.
James Marape, who has been Finance Minister since 2012, said his decision was because the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, and ‘his associates’ had ‘lost trust’ in him.
“This decision is not easy to make and despite cultural and personal ties, the level of trust between Prime Minister and myself is at the lowest after his office and associates continue to send negative signals on their lack of trust in me,” he said.
In a statement released today, Mr. Marape said he disagreed with the Prime Minister on various issues including local participation in the oil and gas sector and support for local businesses.
“These include policies like getting more local content participation in our gas, oil sector, or mining industry, or on the empowerment of our local businesses; or on resource laws reconfiguration for wealth generation for our country, or for lack of honoring existing resource project agreements like the 4.27% of Kroton shares for 5 Provincial Governments and their Landowners, and other issues.”
Mr. Marape’s resignation comes 36 hours after the signing of the USD13 million Papua LNG project that allocated only two percent for landowners. He also revealed how he had been trying to maintain his position amidst a burgeoning rift between himself and the Prime Minister, fueled by what he called the Prime Minister’s “associates.”
“I have come to realize that most of my advice find no traction, and is non-compatible with Prime Minister’s world view, thus it is only fitting that I exit cabinet.
“I am not in cabinet for its comforts, but to contribute to national development and having completed some reforms in Finance Department over the last 7 years including better expenditure control mechanism as well as setting up my signature reform in procurement laws that includes local content emphasis , I feel the time is now right for me to move out of Cabinet so that fresh minds can come into cabinet.”
Mr. Marape is the second most senior cabinet minister to resign from the O’Neill cabinet. Earlier, Don Polye resigned as treasurer following disagreements over the UBS loan.