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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sydney casino sacks informers

Source: The National, Tuesday 20th March 2012 SYDNEY’S Star Casino has sacked three more managers, including one who forwarded an email revealing that it allows international high rollers to gamble non-stop for more than 24 hours. The organisation brought in outside lawyers last Tuesday to help sack mid-level managers with more than 40 years’ experience among them for breaches of its internet and email policies, a report in the Sydney Morning Herald said. A leaked incident report from the casino fingered Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah for sexually harassing a male dealer and consuming too much alcohol last April. The report said Namah was asked to leave but allowed back in when management discovered he had deposited A$800,000 with the teller. Namah has denied being the person named in the report and had advised lawyers to start legal proceedings against Australian newspapers that carried the story. The casino’s actions meant at least seven staff had been dismissed or had left in the fallout surrounding last month’s sacking of managing director Sid Vaikunta. One of those dismissed had forwarded an email, dated Feb 21, from the director of VIP services, Dean Wilson, explaining why responsible gambling rules used to stop locals betting for more than 24 hours at a stretch did not apply to wealthy foreigners known as international rebate guests. Wilson told senior staff he had asked the responsible gambling manager, Ron Wagemans, to clarify the po­licy after a staff member had wrongly advised two wealthy international guests, who had been playing for 21 hours, that they would soon be asked to leave under the casino’s policy of sending gamblers home after 24 hours of non-stop wagering. “For our (international rebate) guests we are under no obligation to stop their play at the 24-hour mark,” Wilson wrote to managers in the high rollers’ section. “These guests travel with limited time to play and they have an esta­blished amount of funds that they are prepared to gamble with.” A Casino Star spokesman said yesterday the employees “were dismissed for breaching several employment policies such as sending confidential company documents to third parties and private email addresses”’, including “highly sensitive customer information”.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Economist says no LNG earnings until 2023

Source: The National, Wednesday 14th March 2012 By MALUM NALU EARNINGS from the LNG project are not expected to be significant until after 2023, according to Asian Development Bank’s Papua New Guinea country economist, Aaron Batten. He told The National yesterday, after the release of the latest edition of ADB’s Pacific Economic Monitor, that this had to do with financing agreements of the project. “For the first five to 10 years of LNG production, revenues will be quite small,” Batten said. “This has to do with financing agreements of the project,” he said. Batten said: “This is accelerated depreciation (to do with tax benefits to the project). “LNG revenues for the first five to 10 years of the project will only replace the decline in other mineral revenues government receives. “In the long term, things will get better, but over the medium term, government will face a growing fiscal challenge.” Batten said government must ensure that enough funding was allocated to key service delivery priorities such as health, education and infrastructure. “At one level, this will require an increasing prioritisation of these areas (health, education and infrastructure) within the budget,” he said. “It will also require them to manage public expectations for improved service delivery as a result of LNG revenues, which are not expected to be large until after 2023.” Batten said the major challenge facing the government right now was the declining revenue over the next two to three years, mainly because of the winding down of LNG construction, declining output from mines and oil fields, and agriculture exporters to face loss of competitiveness as a result of the high kina exchange rate.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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Grand Chief urges PM and Polye to tell truth

Source: The National, Tuesday 13th March 2012 GRAND Chief Sir Michael Somare has called on Peter O’Neill and his team not to shoot themselves in the foot by accusing past governments of doing nothing. “If the suggestion wasn’t so ridiculous it would be laughable,” he said. Sir Michael said O’Neill and others held senior positions in his government and were trying to fool Papua New Guineans that they had done this country a turnaround in the last couple of months. “For the records let me state that from 2002 until 2007, my government tightened its fiscal management and introduced its four policy pillars: improved governance, export-driven growth strategy; improved service delivery and poverty alleviation,” Sir Michael said. “The public may recall that in 2002, morale in PNG was at an all-time low. “We did not even have money to pay our public servants. I had inherited a government whose coffers were depleted from the kind of election spending that the O’Neill regime has been doing today. “We were so desperate that the World Bank even tried to lend money to us with strict conditions. “We refused but with the help of AusAID and the Asian Development Bank we started the Highlands Highway rehabilitation programme (between 2003 and 2004) from K50 million found internally. “We had to be creative as we had very few resources. We also relied on tax credit schemes where companies like Chevron (now Oil Search) were able to carry out initial works on the highway. As more money came in, more work was contracted out on other sections of the Highlands Highway. “With tight fiscal management and our export-driven strategy, we were able to offer private sector incentives that boosted the economy and effectively got this country back on her feet. “Our spending was conservative yet we increased our international debt repayments from 70% in 2002 to less than 30% today (public debt to GDP ratio).” He said many of the ministers who should be credited were still there today with O’Neill. “The emerging trend of members of parliament telling lies to the public should stop. We are leaders and our utterances should be responsible. “I call on members of parliament to be responsible and not speak rubbish during an election year.”