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Leading PNG entrepreneur hits kickbacks

In an extraordinary attack on corruption in PNG, one of the country’s leading businessmen, Sir Ramon (Ray) Thurecht claims that a syndicate of bureaucrats and politicians demand a front-loaded payment of 30 percent of contracts before awarding work.

Thurecht told the PNG Post-Courier that business could not speak out because of fear of retaliation by bureaucrats and politicians.

“Our biggest challenge now is to work with the Government. Unfortunately, with the graft and corruption that permeates both the bureaucracy and political level, it is extremely difficult if you win a contract to get your money. This happened to us,” he said.

Thurecht_kt Thurecht is managing director of HR Holdings Limited and former chairman of the PNG Manufacturers’ Council. He has lived in PNG for 50 years and is the long-term owner of PNG Printing.

Thurecht fears the ’30 percent syndicate’ will curtail business growth. “We win the contract and they just stonewall the payment for whatever reason. They were asking for 30 percent. Some of the bureaucrats were asking me for that (so) they’d let the money flow through. This is just killing the initiative and incentive to work.”

He said this had happened to members of the Manufacturers’ Council: “Ya! It has happened to some of my members. But no-one wants to speak out about it because if you speak about it, then it would open up a mess of possible retaliation against your company. That happened to me when I was with the Chamber of Commerce. I found that if I said something that could be derogatory to government, all of a sudden my company was not getting any work from the government.”

He also noted that the syndicate was responsible for the collapse of Talair, the country’s flagship third-level airline which closed in the 1980s. “Why did Talair pull out? Because he (Sir Dennis Buchanan) hit the same stonewall that I told you about-not being able to get his money. The politicians were stonewalling him.”

Photo: Ray Thurecht is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in October last year.

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