The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector arm, has accepted a complaint by local communities in Papua New Guinea referring to the IFC’s role in advising the government on drawing up laws for special economic zones (SEZs). This includes the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ), where foreign investors will be given financial and legal incentives to set up manufacturing industries (see Update 73). The complaint, endorsed by over a 100 local landowners, says that “there has been no proper consultation with the landowners in the area”, and the project is not “in the interests of the majority of people, the environment or improved social conditions.”
In June ACT NOW!, a Papua New Guinean campaigning website, has accused the IFC of “ operating under a cloak of secrecy” with regard to the project. There is scant information about the SEZ on the IFC’s webpage, and a fact sheet on the project has been removed. In April ACT NOW! sent the IFC a letter asking about “the timeframe for completion of the project; and how civil society could engage in the process”, but have still not received a reply. In August, after continued controversy over potential environmental and social impacts, a lack of local consultation, and accusations of corruption, the government ordered an immediate review of the project.