The International Finance Corporation, a division of the World Bank, has failed to provide details about its development of Special Economic Zone laws for Papua New Guinea.
Community advocacy organisation ACT NOW! had asked the IFC office in Papua New Guinea for further details about the development of the SEZ laws but its questions have not been answered. This is despite the IFC claiming it is committed to transparency and accountability and sharing information 'to strengthen public trust'.
Special Economic Zones are tax free enclaves where foreign businesses are given special incentives to set up manufacturing industries. The Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang is expected to be the first SEZ in PNG.
The questions relate to an IFC advertisement in September 2010 for a local lawyer to assist in the review and drafting of the legal and regulatory frameworks necessary for the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs) in Papua New Guinea.
In April ACT NOW! wrote to Carolyn Blacklock, IFC Resident Representative in Port Moresby, asking:
- whether a lawyer had been engaged,
- who was engaged,
- the timeframe for completion of the project, and
- how civil society could engage in the process.
Ms Blacklock responded, offering a meeting but no answers. She has since not responded at all to a second request made in May for written answers.
Meanwhile, the IFC has updated the information about SEZ laws for PNG on its website. This discloses that, under a cloak of secrecy and while ignoring requests for information, the IFC has gone ahead and written 'a model legal and regulatory framework for SEZs' in PNG which includes 'draft model legislation'.