New PNG leader “taking back” economy, puts resources firms on notice – by Tom Westbrook, Jonathan Barrett and Sonali Paul (Reuters Africa – May 30, 2019)

SYDNEY/BRISBANE (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister pledged on Thursday to “tweak and turn” laws governing how natural resources are extracted to help lift the vast South Pacific archipelago out of poverty.

James Marape, a former finance minister who became leader after winning a vote in parliament, put some of the world’s biggest resources companies on notice over a perceived lack of wealth flowing from their projects back to communities.

Marape, who hails from PNG’s poor but gas-rich highlands, had even quit the government in April after questioning a deal with France’s Total, which allows it, Oil Search Ltd and ExxonMobil Corp to begin work on a $13 billion plan to double gas exports.

He rode a wave of discontent over how taxes and royalties from a $19 billion Exxon-led LNG project were delayed and distributed, among other projects, into the top office.

“At the moment our resource laws are outdated … we will look into maximising gain from what God has given this country from our natural resources,” he said in his first address to parliament as prime minister.

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