OPPOSITION Leader Hon Matthew Wale says the current Prime Minister has mishandled the EXIM Bank loan debacle during the ethnic crisis.
Speaking in Parliament recently, Hon Wale said under the current Prime Minister’s watch, our nation experienced the tragedy of the EXIM Bank incident.
He said it was a glaring reminder of how noble intentions can still lead to more harm than good.
Hon Wale said the TRC Report highlighted how the EXIM Bank disaster served to hinder rather than aid our quest for reconciliation.
“What transpired from the EXIM Bank payments was an insidious compensation culture, fuelled not by cultural considerations or genuine grievances, but by greed and extortion. Government would know this as people demanding payments was normalised,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said since EXIM this country have seen this culture run rampage, where opportunists and elites exploit payouts at the expense of the victims & taxpayers.
Moreover, he said this cycle of violence and compensation gave perpetrators the opportunity to portray themselves as victims, further distorting the truth and impeding our reconciliation efforts.
As we move forward, Hon Wale said the Government must ensure that any policy our country pursues aims to dismantle the damaging culture of extortion fostered by the EXIM Bank payments.
“We must take a firm stance against this culture even if it requires a significant departure from the existing compensation frameworks that has proven to be detrimental to our reconciliation process,” Hon Wale said.
He said the TRC recommendations and implementations offer Government an opportunity to commit to carefully craft a reparation and compensation policy that carefully addresses past wrongs and safeguards the future.
The EXIM loan payout was an event that occurred during the second stage of the conflict following the Townsville Peace Agreement when the then Government obtained a US$25 million loan from the EXIM Bank of Taiwan in June 2001.
The TRC Report points out that this loan led to a significant increase in the government’s formal debt, severely straining the finances of the government.
The Ministry of Peace & Reconciliation was established then and one of its roles was to administer compensation to victims of the tensions for losses.
The former militant groups took large amounts from these funds. Generally, the EXIM loan funds became a hotbed for corruption, and many genuine victims were not compensated.