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Allegations towards Government corruption on Modulus Pacific unfounded

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20 November 2013 : The Prime Minister’s Office wishes to issue this statement in rebuttal of the unfounded and cheap allegation of corruption made by Sione Taione People Representative for Tongatapu No.8 against the Prime Minister and his Office.

During the Parliamentary debates in October 2013 in connection with the Annual Report of the Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources. Sione Taione raised the point that Modulus Pacific is administered and managed by the Prime Minister’s Office and the only explanation for such an arrangement is because Princess Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita is involved with Modulus Pacific. He continued to say that this is an example of what he describes as corruption.

Modulus Pacific Company Limited is one of three Tongans-registered subsidiary companies of the US-based venture capitalist Modulus-Baringer Group that were registered in Tonga in 2008 to carry out oil and gas exploration.

It administers and manages its own affairs through its Directors and its Management Team. The Prime Minister’s Office is not involved in any way with the management of this company. The allegation that Modulus Pacific is administered and managed by the Prime Minister’s Office is totally false.

What Sione Taione did not understand and failed to find out is that the advisory Committee consisting of the Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet, Deputy Secretary in charge of Geology Division of the Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources; the Solicitor General and three members appointed by Modulus Pacific and its two partner subsidiary companies is responsible for advising the Minister of Lands in his role as the competent authority. The Chairman of the Committee is the Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet and the Committee operates from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Minister of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, is the sole competent authority for all exploration and mining of petroleum under the Petroleum Mining Act. The Minister is supported by the Advisory Committee.

The function of the Advisory Committee is to assess and review on an annual basis the mining operations and expenditure of Modulus Pacific and its two partner subsidiary companies, which is formulated and proposed in a work programme. The work programmes of these three companies include refinement of geophysical areas, geological studies, and development of a 3D petroleum model prior to conducting of any drilling activity in Tonga. After assessing and reviewing the work programmes, the Advisory Committee then advises the Minister on whetherto approve, amend on reject parts or the full work programme submitted by Modulus Pacific and its two partner subsidiary companies.

The public should also note that the extension pointed out in the said-Annual Report refers to the extension of the Initial Exploration Phase from 4 years to 6 years, which is within the contractual and legal rights of Modulus Pacific and its two partner subsidiary companies to apply for, under the Petroleum Agreement entered into by the Government respectively with Modulus Pacific and its two partner subsidiary companies, under the Petroleum Mining Act and Petroleum Mining Regulations. This extension was granted in order for Modulus Pacific and its two partner subsidiary companies to ascertain better and updated seismic data of the Kingdom’s seabed through conducting another survey using more modern equipment. The current data available was obtained more than 20 years ago.

The scientific results gathered from the explorations conducted by Modulus Pacific and its two subsidiary partner companies will provide extraordinary opportunities and profound benefit for the development of infrastructure and employment for Tonga

Mr Sione Taione and people like him should make proper enquiries to obtain the correct facts before making serious allegation of corruption against the Prime Minister and his Office.


ENDS


Issued by the: The Prime Minister's Office, Press Office, P.O. Box 62, Nuku'alofa, Tonga. Tel: (676) 24 644 Ext. 215 Fax: (676) 23 888; Media enquiries: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 November 2013 16:13 )
 
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