CEFI & NRI sign research collaboration
by PNG Business News - October 04, 2021
Photo credit - CEFI. (from left to right) PNG NRI, Deputy Director for Research Associate Professor Eugene Ezebilo, NRI Acting Director Dr Osborne Sanida, CEFI Executive Director Saliya Ranasinghe and CEFI Manager Communications and Stakeholder Mobilisation Eva Kuson following the signing of the MoU.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today (24 September 2021) between the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) Executive Director Saliya Ranasinghe, and the PNG National Research Institute (NRI) Acting Director Dr. Osborne Sanida with the aim to consolidate and strengthen cooperation between the institutions.
The NRI is a publicly-funded policy think-tank in PNG mandated by legislation to carry out independent research and analysis on development issues affecting PNG. The National Research Institute Act 1993, states that the functions of NRI include the following:
(a) “The promotion of research into Papua New Guinea Society and the economy, and
(b) the undertaking of research into social, political and economic problems of Papua New Guinea in order to enable practical solutions to such problems to be formulated.” (Section5, NRI Act, 1993).
The NRI’s mission is to provide quality research which contributes to evidence-based public policies and decision-making processes that improve service delivery, leading to better quality of life for all Papua New Guineans. CEFI was established under the Association Incorporation Act and officially launched on 24th April 2013 serves as the industry apex organisation for coordinating, advocating and monitoring all financial inclusion activities in PNG. CEFI’s vision, mission and values focus on financial inclusion and literacy, poverty elimination and the promotion of vibrant financial institutional operation in PNG.
The agreement reflects the mutual value both institution hold in terms of extension and strengthening of research exchange for the general benefit of Papua New Guinea. The partnership signals new research grounds into the country’s economic and social development, with special focus on the role of education in development, and the impact of economic and social change on education. Other research activities under the signed partnership will include exchange of research staff, joint research partnerships and co-hosting of seminars and workshops to disseminate research findings through networks of both organizations.
CEFI Executive Director Mr Saliya Ranasinghe stated the partnership is in compliance with CEFI’s mandate on financial inclusion and literacy, poverty elimination and promotion of vibrant financial institutional operations in PNG.
“The main areas of this agreement between CEFI and NRI will be on researching the impact of Financial Inclusion Activities, Digital Financial Services, Financial Literacy and Financial Education, Micro Insurance, SME and Agriculture Lending.” Mr Ranasinghe addressed at the signing event. “Synergies like the one between the CEFI and the PNGNRI contribute to the more effective research ecosystem that enriches both the education and economic sectors.” Mr Ranasinghe said.
NRI Acting Director Dr. Osborne Sanida equally elated about the partnership states, “NRI as a policy think-tank in PNG looks forward to working closely with CEFI to provide practical solutions to financial inclusion constraints, and contribute evidence-based solutions to improve financial inclusivity for all Papua New Guineans.” “Close cooperation is needed between our institutions and the academic community in order to develop the necessary methodologies and to create the appropriate tools to enable CEFI to carry out their work effectively.” Dr. Sanida remarked. This MOU is effective today and will be renewed every five years between the institutions.
Article courtesy of CEFI
PNG Business News - July 08, 2021
CEFI and Department Sign MOU
Photo Credit: Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion Facebook Page The Department of Community Development and Religion's Informal Economy Section recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Center of Excellence and Financial Inclusion (CEFI) that will provide a new collaboration pathway for training and education of Informal businesses and vendors in order to help them graduate and grow into the SME Sector. The cooperation agreement signed by interim Department Secretary Jerry Ubase and CEFI Executive Director Saliya Ranasinghe would pave the way for joint efforts in providing individuals with Financial Literacy and Financial Inclusion Training through the District Community Development Centre (DCDC). Ubase praised CEFI's work with the department on behalf of Minister Wake Goi, and spoke about how the relationship will benefit the lives of participants in the Informal Economic Corridors. “My department recognises and embraces partnership and collaboration in delivering protection and empowerment services to people. “This MoU signing is yet another milestone to assist the government of the day to achieve its vision of growing the economy through informal business and SME. “As a responsible government department, we will continue to create dialogue and partnership with stakeholders such as CEFI to create an enabling environment for people in the informal economy to access necessary services,” Ubase said. Warren Marape, Acting Deputy Secretary, Community Development Division, described the MOU signing as a big step forward for the Department in addressing the country's financial literacy needs. “The participants in the informal economy are in a dire need of this service so they can venture into SME. “And we will make sure to deliver this significant program at the DCDC beginning with Imbonggu after the official opening on September 17, 2021. Saliya Ranasinghe, CEFI's Executive Director, commended the department for partnering with them (CEFI). “The diverse setup of financial institutions is meant for people to partner with and everyone has to patronise that. “To do that, Financial Literacy is the first step to moving towards your financial goals and direction. “We are looking forward to working closely with the department to push the goal of transiting the participants at the informal sector into the formal sector,” Saliya said. Representatives from the North Fly District Development Authority, the Imbonggu District Development Authority, the media, department officials, and CEFI were present during the signing of the MoU at Sambra Haus in Port Moresby. Reference: Salmang, Grace Auka. Post-Courier (7 July 2021). “MOU by CEFI And Department To Boost Informal Sector”.
PNG Business News - September 28, 2021
CEFI signs MOU supporting the DEFINE Initiative
CEFI, the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PNGX Markets, the PNG Digital ICT Cluster and Emerging Venture Management (Unkapt), together the proponents of the DEFINE Initiative, to provide for a framework of cooperation and communication. To achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the country, one of the initiatives to implement work on the Fintech space is the Developing Financial Markets for Enterprises in the Pacific Islands (DEFINE) Initiative that is being spearheaded by partners which includes Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI), with PNGX Markets, the PNG Digital ICT Cluster and Emerging Venture Management (Unkapt). The objective of the DEFINE Initiative is to contribute to the development of financial markets, products, and services for – aligned enterprises in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Island countries, with the ultimate goals of diversifying their sources of capital and enhancing access to finance. This includes the establishment of specialist SME funding facilities for debt, debt-like, and equity-like investments in SDG-aligned private enterprises which demonstrate governance, performance, return and impact potential with a special focus on Women-led enterprises, clean energy initiatives, agribusinesses, and businesses in the ICT sector. Mr. Saliya Ranasinghe, Executive Director for CEFI expressed his views on the journey taken to be working with and supporting the DEFINE Initiative. He further stated that the objectives of the DEFINE Initiative are very well aligned with those of CEFI and together is hopeful that the collaboration of all parties can deliver greater financial inclusion, financial literacy and business capability to the SME sector. PNGX Chairman Mr. David Lawrence stated that a key objective of the DEFINE Initiative is to strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking and financial services for all, in particular women and the vulnerable, and their integration into value chains and markets. Mr. Lawrence elaborated that as a locally driven initiative, CEFI will be a key partner for meeting our objectives within Papua New Guinea and using the experience gained to export financial services and financial access across the Pacific.
PNG Business News - June 17, 2021
BPNG, CEFI, GGGI, and New Zealand team up for the development of an Inclusive Green Finance Policy for PNG’s banking sector
Papua New Guinea yesterday launched a new project to develop a National Inclusive Green Finance Policy for the banking sector to boost financial inclusion and guide public and private sector investment towards Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development. Bank of Papua New Guinea Assistant Governor Ellison Pidik representing Mr. Loi M Bakani, Governor of BPNG, H.E Dr. Nathan Ross New Zealand Acting High Commissioner to PNG, Mr. Saliya Ranasinghe, Executive Director, Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion and GGGI´s Deputy Director General Ambassador Jenny Kim, jointly initiated the project. Inclusive Green Finance is a new and evolving policy area that countries are beginning to devise and implement policies, regulations and national strategies to mitigate or build resilience to sweeping environmental, health, social and economic effects of climate change. The project will deliver two main outputs: first, a green taxonomy based on PNG’s goals and priorities; and second, and a diagnostic report on the state of green finance in PNG. Both are expected to steer financial flows (loans, equity, and guarantees) towards technologies and services that contribute to the government’s financial inclusion and green growth goals. Bank of Papua New Guinea Assistant Governor Ellison Pidik representing Mr. Loi M Bakani, Governor of BPNG pointed out, “We understand that dual threats of financial exclusion and climate change are recognized as key barriers to financial stability. As a member country of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), and implementing the work on Green Finance, we have identified Inclusive Green Finance (IGF) as a key priority area in the financial inclusion space. Similarly, Acting High Commissioner of New Zealand H.E. Dr. Nathan Ross stated that “Climate change is the most significant security and development issue facing the Pacific region, and we can only meet its challenges through collective action. This includes the private sector, and the Inclusive Green Finance Policy will be an important step towards helping businesses to contribute to PNG’s low-emissions, climate resilient development.” Ambassador Jenny Kim states GGGI´s role in the project will be on scaling up access to green finance, “we hope that this project will serve as a strong foundation for future cooperation between New Zealand MFAT, BPNG, CEFI, and GGGI for more ambitious and impactful cooperation on climate change.” At the event, an MOU was signed. The MOU between GGGI and CEFI is under the initiation of the regional program, Low Emissions Climate Resilient Development Program (LECRDP), a regional collaborative effort between GGGI, NZ/MFAT and the governments of Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji to support regional resilience and emissions reductions, by working with these Pacific Islands Countries to transition to inclusive, low emissions and climate resilient development.
Paul Oeka - September 29, 2022
AGRICULTURE HAS HUGE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
Photo credit: Oxford Business Group The creation of the new ministries by the current government for both major agricultural commodities, Coffee and Oil Palm is a huge step forward in achieving the agriculture sectors economic potential. For the past years the agricultural sector had not been fully utilized by consecutive governments as the focus had mostly been centered on the extractive industry and Mining & Petroleum sector. This important and vital sector is eventually and currently being recognized as an economic pillar to boost the state coffers. Prime Minister Hon. James Marape said the allocation and restructure of the four newly created ministries concentrating on Horticulture (Fresh produce), Coffee, Oil Palm, and Livestock to the agricultural sector is a complete paradigm shift to get agriculture moving again. The focus of the Marape Government on ‘Taking Back PNG’ is deeply rooted and aligned with the mechanisms and functions of the agricultural sector as most of the country’s population are situated in rural settings and largely depend on subsistence agriculture to sustain themselves. Coffee, Cocoa, Oil palm and Fresh produce have been a mainstay that this rural population rely on for income for so many years. As far as many Papua new Guineans can recall and relate, Agriculture has always been the foundation and backbone of the country and it can surely drive the economy forward. Although the agricultural does not match in monetary turnovers for the country, it is an economic foundation and is here to stay. In comparison over monetary benefits with other sectors, Agriculture had not been performing to expectation due to so many underlying issues concerned and faced with the value chain of agricultural commodities prompting a decline in agricultural activities over the years. The Prime Minister said it was no secret that agriculture had declined since independence in 1975, and the current allocation of the four agricultural ministries was to revive the sector for it to be a major income generator for PNG. PM Marape said this when explaining the concept and rationale for his allocation of four ministries to the agricultural sector. This direction by the Marape/Rosso Government to emphasize more on agriculture will boost agricultural activities in and around the country. Mostly the sector had not been given proper recognition for decades and had been lacking government intervention from past successive governments. Now with the current Government’s backing, the respective agricultural ministries and its industries are expected to flourish dramatically and are likely to bring more benefits. The new ministries will also empower provinces that currently do not have mining and petroleum resources. This will certainly build stronger local economic activities for future generations. “We want to see import replacement and more exports within the agriculture sector, which is why we have allocated four separate ministries to agriculture,” PM Marape said. The recognition of this agricultural industries will also ease and slowdown rural-urban drift. The number of people migrating from rural areas into towns and cities in search for better opportunities have risen in the past couple of years due to inequality in the distribution of wealth and lack of government services. Thus, the governments focus on agriculture will encourage many unemployed Papua New Guineans living in urban areas to go back to their home Provinces or villages and be self-reliant. As economic opportunities arise in rural areas from vibrant and innovative policy interventions within these newly created agricultural ministries, it will attract many to contribute meaningfully and be productive on their own customary land. Prime Minister Marape said over the last three years prior to the creation of the new agricultural ministries, his government has given millions of kina to support agriculture through price and freight subsidies and SME support. “We are now targeting specific commodities through the establishment of the four ministries. Over the next term of government, we will give specific production targets for Coffee, Oil Palm and all other major agricultural Commodities” he said. The government also plans to revive and rehabilitate once thriving agricultural hubs in the country such as Cattle farming in the Central Province and the Coffee plantations of the Highlands region that produced quality organic Coffee and grew the fledgling industry pre-independence in the 1960’s. Now that the agricultural sector has been categorized into four industries, there will be room for much improvement in economic activity within the agricultural sector as people will start contributing meaningfully to the economy.
Paul Oeka - September 28, 2022
TREASURER WANTS REVIEW OF ELECTION FUNDS
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey is dismayed at how the 2022 National Elections were conducted and is now looking forward to a complete review of the allocated funds that were spent on the elections. Ling-Stuckey recently stated in parliament that the government had allocated and funded enough money for the election process to be conducted this year. “We provided a further K50 million to cover the costs for the 2022 election, bringing the total funding for the election to nearly double the level of expenditure in the 2017 national elections. There was enough money to support a much better election this year, so I look forward to the proposed parliamentary committee examinations of what went wrong and what can be done better” he said. The Treasurer also expressed concern that there was a decrease in the public servants’ salaries. He explained that “Once again there is a salary cost overrun. This is K201 million much lower than in previous years, and out of this, over 70 percent is related to teacher wage overruns. We contributed to bring this area under control. After no pay increases during the latest part of the Covid-19 crisis, it is now time to start increasing some salary payments”. “There is also the need to provide additional funding for the seven new districts that have been created and K3 million each has been provided. There are also new members in existing electorates, and it is appropriate that they be given some funds for commencing programs through to the end of the year. For equity reasons all districts and provinces needed to benefit the same so an additional 2 million per district and province have been allocated bringing the funding back to 10 million per districts and provinces” he said. Meanwhile there was an announcement on Thursday last week that the Department of personnel management, Treasury and Finance are working together to ensure that there will be a three percent pay increment in the salary of public servants. This pay increment is to be adjusted and effective by December this year, the welcoming news for public servants was confirmed by the Secretary of the Department of Personnel Management, Taies Sansan.
PNG Business News - September 28, 2022
PNG’s minimum wage
Commentary by Stephen Howes, Kingtau Mambon and Kelly Samof The urban minimum wage has been an important part of Papua New Guinea’s economic history. In the last few years before independence (in 1975), it was greatly increased. In the decade or so after independence, it was widely regarded as too high. In 1992, it was slashed, merged with the rural minimum, and hardly increased again for more than a decade. We can compare the minimum wage in PNG today with other Asia and Pacific developing countries using International Labour Organization (ILO) data. As Figure 1 shows, PNG’s minimum wage is 18% below the average of the 19 countries shown if the market exchange rate is used to compare minimum wages. It is 37% below the average if differences in cost of living are also taken into account (with conversions made on the basis not of market exchange rates but so-called purchasing power parities or PPPs). The greater difference in terms of PPPs reflects PNG’s relatively high cost of living. Of the countries shown, only Samoa and Kiribati have a lower minimum wage than PNG when a PPP comparison is made. This is very different to the past. Raymond Goodman, Charles Lepani and David Morawetz in their 1985 report The economy of Papua New Guinea compared minimum wages in PNG with a subset of the countries above back in 1978. Then, the PNG minimum wage was about twice as big or more than the other comparators. Today (using market exchange rates, and the earlier authors do), PNG comes in the middle of the pack, as Figure 2 shows. So far, we have shown that around the time of independence minimum wages were very high in PNG by international standards, and that they no longer are. Figure 3 shows how this change came about – also, for interest, comparing trends in PNG with those in Australia. Both the PNG and Australian weekly minimum wages are shown in Figure 3 measured in Australian dollars. The PNG minimum wage is converted into Australian dollars using the current exchange rate. Both wages are then adjusted for inflation and expressed in 2021 prices. The two series follow diametrically opposed paths. The Australian minimum wage fell with the high inflation of the 1970s and industrial relations reforms of the 1980s, and by the early 1990s was little more than half its value in the 1970s. It then increased in the late 1990s and 2000s during the resource boom, and has continued to increase. Adjusting for inflation, it is now almost back to where it was in the early 1970s. The PNG minimum wage does the opposite. It increased in the 1970s and was then held stable due to indexation, until the big bang reforms of 1992. Adjusted for inflation, PNG’s minimum wage continued to fall until 2004. There have since been some significant increases, but today PNG’s minimum wage is only about one-third of its value at independence, and below its value even in 1972, which is when the steep minimum wage increases began. The Australian minimum wage has always been significantly higher than the PNG one, but the ratio has changed a lot over time. The lowest that ratio has ever been is 2.2 in 1986, the highest 45 in 2004. The gap between the two wages is much higher now than at independence: the ratio of the Australian to the PNG minimum wage was 14.5 in 2021, compared to only 3.2 at independence (1975). This reflects PNG’s 1992 deregulation, and the faster growth in the Australian economy, which has enabled an increase in the Australian minimum wage. The solution to low wages in PNG is not necessarily to increase the minimum. In some sectors, where there is a lot of international competition, a higher minimum wage might lead to job losses. For example, in tuna processing, one of PNG’s main competitors is the Philippines. From Figure 1, we can see that PNG’s minimum wage is lower than the Philippines' on the basis of PPPs, but actually higher on the basis of market exchange rates. While the former is what matters for the welfare of workers, the latter is what matters for international competitiveness. Whether PNG’s minimum wage should be increased will require a lot more analysis. The point of this blog is simply that PNG’s minimum wage does not look high any more by international comparisons, as it has fallen a lot since independence. PNG is often described as a high-cost economy, and this is a fair description. However, with regards to unskilled labour, it is no longer a high-wage economy. Data note: The PNG Economic Database provides the weekly minimum wage of PNG going back to 1972, and the PGK-AUD exchange rate. Wikipedia provides the Australian weekly minimum wage data (hourly and weekly, on the assumption of a 38-hour week) starting from 1966. The Australian CPI is from the Australian aid tracker. There are some years where Australian minimum wage rates change more than once in a year. For such cases, we took the average as annual minimum wage rate. The data for Asia-Pacific comparisons are from the International Labour Organization and the World Bank. The different frequencies of minimum wages for each country in 2019 in the ILO’s report are adjusted to convert to weekly rates. World Bank data is used to obtain market exchange rates and PPP conversion factors. For the Goodman, et al., data go to Table 3.6 on p.61 in their report.\ Disclosure: This research was undertaken with the support of the ANU-UPNG Partnership, an initiative of the PNG-Australia Partnership, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The views are those of the authors only. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, at The Australian National University. Kingtau Mambon is currently undertaking a Master of International and Development Economics at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, for which he was awarded a scholarship through the ANU-UPNG Partnership. Kelly Samof is a lecturer in economics at the School of Business and Public Policy, University of Papua New Guinea.