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Mekere Morauta

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Name  Mekere Morauta

Resigned  August 5, 2002
Mekere Morauta wwwabcnetaunewsimage44627903x4700x933jpg
Role  Papua New Guinean Political figure
Education  University of Papua New Guinea
Party  People's Democratic Movement
Similar People  Bill Skate, Peter O'Neill, Michael Somare

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Sir Mekere Morauta, KCMG (born 12 June 1946) is a Papua New Guinean economist and political figure.


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Sir Mekere was born in 1946 in Kukipi, a coastal village east of Kerema in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea, and was educated at local primary schools and at Kerema High and Sogeri National High. He went on to study at the University of Papua New Guinea, where he obtained a Bachelor of Economics in 1970. He was also an exchange student at Flinders University in South Australia.

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After graduating from university he worked as an economist in both the public and private sectors. In 1975 he was the first Papua New Guinean to be appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance, a position which he held until 1982. Other positions he has held include Managing Director of the government's commercial bank, the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation (1983–1992), and Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea (1992–19993), PNG's central bank. Morauta was also a successful businessman after he retired from governing the central bank. From 1994 to 1997, he was executive chairman of Morauta Investments, Ltd. (Delta Seafoods and Morauta and Associates). After entering politics he withdrew from actively managing the firm and his wife Lady Roslyn Morauta took over the management of the firm. Sir Mekere was a member of the so-called "Gang of Four", a group of influential young civil service chiefs who played a leading role in holding together public administration and public policy in the formative decade or so after Papua New Guinea's independence in 1975. The other members of the group were Charles Lepani, Sir Rabbie Namaliu and Sir Anthony Siaguru. Namaliu also later went on to become Prime Minister. Morauta maintained from that period on a strong professional and warm personal relationship with the Australian economist Ross Garnaut.

Mekere Morauta Morauta to stand again for PNG parliament Radio New Zealand News

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Political career

Mekere Morauta Sir Mekere tells PM ONeill to stop personal attacks and discuss

Sir Mekere entered the national parliament in July 1997 as the member for Moresby North-West. He was in 1988/89 Minister for Fisheries in the government of Bill Skate that emerged from the 1997 elections. The Skate government did not cope with the economic and political crises that beset PNG then and the government was defeated in a vote of no confidence. Sir Mekere was then elected by parliament as Prime Minister with a huge majority in July 1999: 99 votes for Sir Mekere and 5 votes for his challenger. His government was a reforming government and developed policies to deal with the crises. Sir Mekere was reelected in Moresby North West in 2002 and 2007. However he was manoevered out of government by Sir Michael Somare after the 2002 elections . , His National Alliance Party (NA) was the biggest party with 19 out of the 109 seats as compared to 12 for Mekere’s People’s Democratic Movement. Somare excluded Morauta in the coalition building after the elections and Morauta became leader of the opposition. However, he rejoined the government as Minister for Public Enterprises in the Namah/O’Neill cabinet that was formed in 2011 after a vote of no confidence made an end to the Somare/Abal government. In May 2012 he announced that, after fifteen years in Parliament, he would not stand for re-election and so left the Parliament in June 2012 However, he became during the O’Neil/Dion government in the period 2012-2017 a player in major controversies. There were also calls on him to stand again. He decided therefore to give in to major pressures and stood again successfully in Moresby North-West in 2017.

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Party identification He joined parliament in 1997 as a member of the People's Democratic Movement (PDM). PDM was founded by Paias Wingti who lost his seat in the 2007 election and Morauta became the party leader. During his time as Prime Minister, between 1999 and 2002, Morauta was also leader of the People's Democratic Movement (PDM). After Michael Somare took over as Prime Minister after the 2002 general elections, it was expected that he would be leader of the opposition. However, he was challenged from within his own part by John Muingnepe. , the deputy leader of the party. He also dismissed Morauta as leader of the party in favor of Paias Wingti. Wingti had succeeded to return to parliament. PDM split then into two groups. Morauta had advocated already a change of name of PMD to make a fresh start. After being deposed as leader he left to form his own party, the Papua New Guinea Party. Morauta was installed as leader of the opposition after a successful appeal to the Registrar of Political Parties and the Ombudsman Commission against the actions of Muingnepe. He remained leader of the opposition until he joined the Namah/O'Neill government in 2012. He stood as an independent in the 2017 election.Sir Mekere Morauta has joined the ranks with Pangu Pati under the leadership of Sam Basil as the party leader together with 4 other Independent MP’s. Party identification and formation is not a determinant factor in PNG politics: coalition building is crucial. Morauta is a politician who as a strong regional base in Gulf and Western province because of the economic importance of his fishing interests as well as the benefits brought by the Ok Tedi mine. He has also a solid base in Port Moresby. He as elected four times in the same constituency. However eludes him often because of difficulties in forging coalitions.

The Morauta government

Mekere Morauta Mekere Morauta Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

The Morauta government was in office from 14 July 1999 till 5th of August 2002 and deployed far reaching initiatives. The most urgent task when coming to power was macro economic stabilization . Morauta looked back with satisfaction in his last budget speech before the election in 2002 on lower interest rates, lower inflation and a more stable currency. This had been achieved with the support of the International Financial Institutions and the Australian government. Second, the financial structure of PNG was reformed. The independence of the Central Bank was restored and reinforced. The government withdrew from the banking sector. Government used to be a major player in the banking sector through the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation (PNGBC). This bank was privatised. The state owned enterprises (SOES) were brought together under a holding company called the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC). This was supposed to be a shell company that refrained as much as possible from direct management of the businesses under its control. Its core function was to stimulate the privatisation of SOES and managing the dividends that came from those enterprises. Thirdly there were major political reforms aimed at strengthening party formation. MPs used to shift allegiances easily and created therefore political instability. The Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) had as its main provision that MPs had to remain loyal to the Prime Minister they had chosen whether they had supported the PM on a party platform or as independents. It proscribed crossing the floor on virtual all issues. It also laid down a framework for the organisation and registration of political parties. Similarly the electoral system was changed from a First Past the Post system to a system of Limited Preferential Voting. The idea was that candidates under such a system would approach other candidates searching for support in voters casting second or more preferences. This would stimulate cooperation between candidates and encourage stable party formation. Fourthly, government involvement in the natural resources sector was reorganised. Previous governments had involved themselves more and more with managing such resources through equity participation. Orogen Minerals Ltd was the major vehicle to bring government and private investment together in natural resources projects. The Morauta government sold the government’s 51% controlling interest in Orogen to Oil Search Ltd. Government withdrew therefore from direct management and was merely drawing dividends from Oil Search. A different vehicle was created for the big Ok Tedi mine in Western Province. BHP was the controlling interest and manager of this mine. A tailings dam broke and BHP was faced with big claims of environmental damages. BHP wanted to avoid these and these were settled by transferring their shares to an entity representing the people of Western Province : the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Fund. Income from these shares was used for development projects in Western province and Papua New Guinea as a whole. However one third of that income was paid in a trust account in Singapore as a reserve for the people in Western Province when the mine would be exhausted. The Mineral Resources Development Corporation (MRDC) remained in existence. It was originally also a vehicle for government equity participation. However, its mission was limited ehen Orogen was established. Its task was to administer the equity interest of landowner groups and provincial governments in natural resources projects.

The Morauta government faced stiff opposition after the first benefits of macro economic stabilization were realized and economic reforms were on the table.. This opposition was primarily directed against austerity and privatization demanded by the International Financial Institutions and the Australian government. Soldiers rebelled when a report was leaked proposing the cutailment of the army and even merging it with the police into a mere paramilitary force. Soldiers protested not only against these plans but also strongly against the terms of retrenchment. (A widespread protest movement of soldiers, workers and especially students emerged against the influence of the World Bank, IMF and the Australian government. During student protests against the privatizations in 2001, three students were shot dead by police. At a meeting with the parent of a dead student, Sir Mekere referred to the previous loss of his son and he described the events as “the blackest day in our nation’s history. Morauta entered the elections of 2002as a highly respected reformer, but this did not find favor with the voters. His PMD party they dropped from 42 seats to 17 seats.The National Alliance Party had fought a hard campaign against privatization and won the largest number of seats and could invite the prime minister. Michael Somare succeeded In bringing together a large coalition of 88 votes in the 106 parliament. The PDM party boycotted this election.<ref</ref> Somare put further privatisations on hold but he did not backtrack on the reforms that had already been implemented.

Effects of the reforms by Morauta cabinet The long lasting beneficial effects of the reforms by the Morauta cabinet were most clearly felt in the macro economic situation. The Bank of PNG could operate independent of political influence and this was especially felt in debt management. Public debt decreased from 72.3% in 2000 to 25.5% in 2010. External debt fell also spectacularly from over 50% of GDP in 2000 to just 10% in 2010. The decade 2000-2010 was in contrast to the decade of 1990-2000 characterized by a stable currency (kina), low and stable inflation and a sharp decline in interest rates. A fiscally conservative attitude of the Somare government as well as high commodity prices in the second half of the decade were important as well, but his successor, Prime Minister Michael Somare, left the reforms of the Morauta government intact and could benefit from those. The political reforms left a much more mixed legacy. The Somare government that followed the Morauta government was the first PNG government that made a full term. The increased stability in political life seems at first sight to be due to the reforms. However, closer inspection makes this doubtful. The reforms did not lead to a decrease in the number of parties or the emergence of policy driven parties. PNG politics remained dominated by opportunistic diverse coalitions. The ban on switching allegiance to a particular prime minister did not work, if only because the prime minister switched in support base. The increased stability is in the first place due to organizational arrangements in parliament: first, a long grace period during which votes of no-confidence are not allowed and second, scheduling sessions advantageously for the government due to a coalition between the speaker of parliament and the prime minister. Finally, the Supreme Court considered in 2010 the provisions in OLIPAC contrary to the freedoms guaranteed in the constitution. The third set of reforms : privatization and regulating income from natural resources became the major issue in the opposition by Sir Mekere. The reorganization of the natural resources sector by the Morauta government led to a stable income from the sector. Rent from Natural Resources provided in the decade 2000-2010 a large share of GDP: on average 45.74% as compared to an average of 28.9% in the whole period 1970-2014. However, the Somare governments returned to increased state intervention in the sector through equity participation. This gave rise to opposition by Morauta.

In August 2011 Peter O'Neill became Prime Minister after a successful parliamentary motion of no confidence in the government of Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal (standing in for Somare while the latter was hospitalised for a heart condition). O'Neill appointed Sir Mekere as his Minister for Public Enterprises.

In 1990 Morauta was made a Knight Bachelor. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Sir Mekere is married to Lady Roslyn Morauta, an Australian, and has two sons from a previous marriage.


Mekere Morauta Wikipedia