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K10M To Give Agriculture A Boost
by PNG Business News - March 16, 2021
In the Southern Highlands Province, K10 million has been set aside for agriculture growth.
Agriculture is the backbone of any economy, according to Southern Highlands agriculture advisor Kenneth Kuimp, so growing it in the province is a step in the right direction. He said that the province is embracing change and that agriculture is the driving force behind growth.
“We are pleased to receive a K10 million funding from the provincial government to develop agriculture in the province,” he said. “Currently with the support of Fresh Produce Development Agency and Innovative Agro Industry, a chips factory has been established and this will help push the provincial authority to roll-out agricultural programs and interventions.”
The province is currently implementing the potato seedlings initiative, according to Kuimp, which is in line with other projects in the works.
“We are looking at rolling out other projects like coffee, potatoes and inland fisheries, fresh fruits and vegetables and other agriculture projects,” he said.
The province's agriculture sector has been ignored for a long time, but Governor William Powi and provincial administrator Joseph Cajetan have recognized agriculture as a catalyst for change and have committed K10 million in funding from the Southern Highlands provincial government budget. The agriculture program, according to Kuimp, will be implemented in the five districts of Mendi Munihu, Imbonggu, Ialibu-Pangia, Kagua-Erave and Nipa-Kutubu.
PNG Business News - November 20, 2020
CEFI Conducts Workshop on Agriculture
As a measure to partner with financial institutions, the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) recently conducted a workshop in agriculture lending and implementing the Market For Village Farmers Project. In his opening remarks, CEFI Executive Director Saliya Ranasinghe said, “One of the differences with this particular project is that we would like the banks to be equal partners in project implementation from the beginning, so you all will know what is happening and what each partner is doing and embrace the process of the project,” he said.Ranasignhe highlighted other components such as technical service providers, digital financial services with addition to risk mitigation and product design, and encouraged financial institutions to share the view on agricultural lending.“We would also like to introduce some risk mitigation so one option is that we have Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) to design a credit guarantee cooperation so we would have a special dedicated window for agriculture lending,” he continued. “If we all are to change agriculture in Papua New Guinea, you all should play a pivotal role and take the unwanted risk, but we will revise better means of mitigating the risk and take it forward and we are positive that this project will be a landmark from which we can definitely show to other agriculture projects how to work with banks.”For his part, Manager-Banking Supervision-BPNG Sabina Deklin thanked the financial institutions for their commitment in bringing financial services to Papua New Guineans.“The focus for financial inclusion has been the focus of the Central Bank for a number of years and this is ensuring in partnering with the financial institution that we take these financial services to the rural areas and CEFI is a creation of this and its one of its core mandates,” Deklin stated.The workshop also featured presentations from the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Deputy Acting Secretary Regina Nukudj and Market For Village Farmers Project Manager Robert Lutulete; and Thierry Mahieux, an international consultant with International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), who talked about Digital Financial Services For Agriculture-Innovation in Agriculture Lending and Risk Mitigation via zoom.The workshop was attended by financial institutions such as Bank South Pacific, People’s Microbank, Nasfund Contributors Savings and Loans and East New Britain Savings and Loans, and also representatives from the Productive Partnership in Agriculture Project (PPAP) and World Bank.
PNG Business News - December 14, 2020
Cabinet Approves NAQIA Facilities
Cabinet has approved the K20 million submission to establish the facilities of the National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (Naqia) across the country.According to Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Simon, “The managing director Joel Alu and I took the submission to the Cabinet in which we got an approval of roughly K20 million to set up Naqia quarantine facilities throughout the country,” he said. “The country is growing and Naqia is understaffed.”The plan shows the particular strategies and achievable milestones over a duration of five years. “Agriculture is viewed as the industry with the broader potential to raise the highest number of small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs in the country,” Simon said. “Accordingly, it is anticipated that the number of businesses associated with agriculture will rise to levels where Naqia will be scrambling for capacity and resources to facilitate unprecedented growth in trade in the immediate future. PNG is part of the global village and Naqia is required to foster partnerships with the international community to enhance our socio-economic development aspirations in a safe and secure environment. Our global integration, collaboration and partnership come with challenges and risks to the foundation of our livelihood from regulated pests and disease on animals and plants through the movement of goods, people and transportation.”He continues, “Naqia’s vision, mission and strategic objectives align itself to the national policies and strategies. It clearly demonstrates the authority’s commitment to supporting the implementation of these policies. The plan provides the strategic direction and leadership in fostering collaboration and cohesive partnerships with core stakeholders, regional and international network partners in addressing biosecurity legislation and relevant policies affecting compliance with international sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards."
PNG Business News - January 15, 2021
Logging Project in Bouganville to Start Next Month
The Tonolei logging project in South Bougainville is set to start next month.This was disclosed by local MP Timothy Masiu, the Communication and Information Technology Minister, who said that resource developer KKCL based in East New Briain would land its equipment and machinery next month.He also thanked the Tonolei Development Corporation (TDC) landowner company for getting the project going, since this has been delayed for two years to give time for the landowners to work on social mapping exercises and register incorporated land groups. He also asked for support from the Autonomous Bougainville Government. Masiu also expressed his appreciation to TDC Chairman John Kebau for showing accountability and transparency by giving an acquittal report. He said that his DDA would resume to support and work with the TDC.
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PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Price of Oil Recovers in Spite of COVID
According to Oil Search, oil prices have risen steadily in recent months from the initial effect of the Covid-19 last year, when prices ranged about US$43 (K150) per barrel of oil (bbl), to levels above US$60/bbl (K210) since February this year. In response to questions, a group spokesperson said,“ To date, there has been no impact to production in our Oil Search operations in PNG as a result of the recent surge in the Covid-19 cases. The increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in PNG has prompted Oil Search to enact its crisis and emergency management plans. The health and safety of our employees remain the company’s highest priority and teams have been assembled in PNG and Sydney to deploy additional support to protect our people and to ensure the safety and reliability of our operations. At our PNG field locations, we continue to operate under precautionary protocols established in 2020, which includes redeployment of non-essential personnel, restriction of access and travel to field locations and implementation of strict preventative measures and quarantine zones.” He added, “We have enacted additional risk mitigation measures include establishing ‘cocoons’ for our field teams and extending the quarantine period for employees and contractors. To date, there has not been a single positive case recorded in our operating sites outside of quarantine. We have also conducted more than 7,500 Covid-19 tests at our medical clinics and quarantine facilities in PNG. Beyond the safety of our own people and assets, Oil Search stands ready to work with relevant Government and health authorities to assist in PNG’s overall response to the Covid-19. This includes the dissemination of accurate information around the Covid-19 and vaccinations, supporting provincial health authorities to implement an effective vaccination programme, and providing logistics and cold chain support where required and as directed by the Government.”
PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Lae Chamber Welcomes Green Energy
The Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said it welcomes any power plan that is long-term, environmentally friendly and creates jobs in the delivery of efficient, low-cost electricity in Lae and Morobe. President John Byrne referred to concerns regarding the PNG Biomass project in the province's Markham Valley when he said, “PNG Biomass has provided a solution which ticks most of these boxes, whether it fits the plan of PPL (PNG Power Ltd) is a decision beyond our scope. The recent Ramu 2 announcement is another such solution. Our people of Lae, Morobe, and PNG, not only expect but deserve, reliable, constant and cost-effective power solutions.” According to Byrne, the Lae business group praised the Lae PPL team for their commitment, hard work, and communication in maintaining an ageing and insecure grid infrastructure operational. He said many companies that had short or long-term contracts with the government were failing because of the long-standing outstanding Government bills owing to them. “The quantum of debt is not specified but very large and this added to the impact of the Covid-19, resource debates and a lack of forex is taking a toll on the business houses.,” he said.
PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Businesses Concerned Regarding Government Debts
With the outstanding amount of government debt owed to the sector, pending landowner fees, and rising law and order woes, businesses are concerned about 2022. According to Chey Scovell, chief executive officer of the PNG Manufacturers Board, conversations within the business community revealed that the government owed companies more than K2 billion. “I don’t have an updated list, but from general conversations with business and what is being raised with the various chambers, it would exceed K2 billion,” he said. “We hear that contractors for the Department of Works have claims for this amount alone, so the number could be as high as K3 billion. No doubt they may have paid some, technically a K1 payment would be paying at least some. The Budget hasn’t been able to be implemented properly at all. Recurrent expenditure, monthly bills for things like water, power, security, rent, are not being paid in full or in many cases at all. We’ve suggested that the Government put up an online portal/list, for all creditors to register for the Government to show full or progressive payments.” Scovell compared what the government was doing to the private community to what would happen if everybody started paying taxes for one to five years but continued to use government programs. “They wouldn’t be able to survive, so how is it that they expect businesses to carry on?” he said. “It is also a bit of a cop-out that Treasury is taking a long time and in many instances taking extensive reviews of claims to see if they will pay them and by how much.” Scovell argued that the government was required to behave in good faith and to set a precedent, but that forcing or intimidating companies to make substantial reductions in compensation due for goods and services rendered was bad form. “We note there are many dodgy claims, but there seems to be little evidence that hires car firms, public works contractors and catering firms (reported as problematic areas) are having the same scrutiny,” he said. “BOC Gas waited years to be paid for medical gases such as oxygen supplied to PMGH (Port Moresby General Hospital), it was reviewed twice that I know of and not paid. The other item of note is that debt carried is a growing debt. The older it gets the more it has cost the businesses.” He added, “Also, our currency has been depreciating, many businesses based their fees on the foreign exchange rates at that time, some even had loans Just like our tax penalties, the longer they are overdue, the higher they should become. This Government isn’t doing to others as it does for itself. We still have micro, small and medium enterprises that have suffered duress due to non-payment of bills going all the way back to our 40th Independence, same goes for the 2015 Pacific Games, we hear from the regional chambers that there are many outstanding claims for the past two elections. Again, if we had a publicly available list, the Government wouldn’t be able to hide behind confusion and people could whistleblow on dubious claims.”