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Russia to Supply PNG with Vaccine
by PNG Business News - May 26, 2021
Photo credit: March 12, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
The Russian Federation has declared that it is happy and willing to supply the Sputnik V vaccine to Papua New Guinea.
It said that once the pandemic is over, Prime Minister James Marape will be welcomed to Russia.
The Russian government is negotiating with Papua New Guinea to create a reciprocal visa-waiver deal.
This was said by Ludmila Vorobyova, Russian Federation's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, during an online symposium attended by leading Russian and Papua New Guinean academics, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lawmakers, and community leaders.
The symposium was opened by Nicholai Miklouho-Maclay, a descendant of the world-famous explorer of the same name, founder and director of the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation, and head of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Research Centre for South Pacific and South-East Asia, Australia and Oceania Institute of Oriental Studies.
He thanked the symposium attendees for their contributions to the development and deepening of Russia-Papua New Guinea ties.
“We aim for comprehensive cooperation within a whole range of projects which can be implemented in spite of pandemic,” Vorobyova said. “We have a unique opportunity to hold dialogue which we hope to continue our projects, considering the planned visits of the Prime Minister of PNG, as well as our cooperation in healthcare, humanitarian and cultural spheres. The Russian Federation is open for cooperation to deliver the Sputnik V vaccine and we need to strengthen bilateral commercial, economic, cultural, scientific, educational and humanitarian cooperation.”
She expressed the expectation that Prime Minister James Marape would be able to visit Russia as soon as the situation permits.
Ms Vorobyova suggested that the parties sign a memorandum of understanding on trade and investment, as well as a visa-waiver deal.
On behalf of Marape and the government, Northern Governor Gary Juffa expressed willingness to work with Russia in a variety of fields.
Russia, he said, has enormous molecular, historical, and cultural diversity, similar to PNG.
“We are happy to welcome investors from Russia to cooperate and develop bilateral relations,”
Juffa said. “Our motto is “friend to all and foe to no one. We are friends to all nations and we are trying to use this ideology in our cooperation with other countries.”
As soon as all COVID constraints are lifted, Sir Peter Barter, president of the Melanesian Tourist Services tour agency, said he is happy to host Russian visitors and support the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation's mission.
Post-Courier (24 May 2021). “Russia set to supply PNG With Vaccine.”
PNG Business News - March 11, 2021
PNG Gives Regulatory Approval for AztraZeneca Vaccine
The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been given regulatory approval for use in Papua New Guinea. The government is planning for the vaccine rollout, aimed to launch by the end of April, as PNG struggles to control the spread of Covid-19. The PNG Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed the various Covid-19 vaccines produced, according to Prime Minister James Marape. PNG can obtain the AstraZeneca vaccine produced through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access, or COVAX facility, he said. The World Health Organization has also given it their blessing. Vaccination would not be compulsory, according to Marape. It will be aimed at a specific audience. “A large number of health workers have been affected by the Covid-19, therefore, they will be given priority,” he said. “We are now in the process of getting the vaccine across, hopefully by April.” PNG will receive a total of 588,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the first allocation by the end of June, according to the Department of Health. The vaccine will be sent to PNG in two shipments: the first, consisting of 288,000 doses, is scheduled to arrive in late March or early April, and the second, consisting of the remaining 300,000 doses, will arrive in late May or early June. Frontline vital health staff will be the first to be vaccinated, with the first batch arriving by the end of June, followed by the most vulnerable, such as those with co-morbidities and the elderly, in the second half of the year. Marape expressed concern in a statement that Covid-19 has infected a significant number of health workers, and that they will be given priority for vaccination. "Health workers will be vaccinated first as we are seeing a growing number of health workers who are getting infected in the line of their work," he said. "There is evidence that there is a large community transmission in the National Capital District, and that is affecting health workers who have come in contact with Covid-19 patients in the course of their duty. This is a serious community transmission and we are now relooking at our own isolation strategies, and how we can best look after our health workers while processes for bringing in the vaccine are completed and the vaccines are brought into the country." The prime minister said that he would not take the vaccine ahead of those who need it most and that he would only do so to demonstrate to Papua New Guineans that the vaccine can help them combat the virus. “It must be emphasised that even with the vaccine, we must maintain and strengthen public health measures such as face masking, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, respiratory and cough hygiene, avoiding crowds and ensuring good ventilation,” said Marape.
PNG Business News - March 24, 2021
PNG Receives 8,000 Covid-19 Vaccines From Australia
Australia has sent 8,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Port Moresby's Jacksons Airport as part of its continuing assistance to PNG to contain and combat the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Prime Minister James Marape expressed gratitude to the Australian Government at the airport where the vaccinations were sent, saying that Australia continues to assist PNG wherever it is required. The launch of the vaccinations was observed by Prime Minister Marape and the Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea His Excellency Jon Philp, Minister of Health and HIV/AIDS Jelta Wong, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock John Simon, Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response and Police Commissioner Mr David Manning, and Secretary for Health Dr Osbourne Liko. According to Marape, Australia has agreed to provide another million vaccines to Papua New Guinea. In the next two to three months, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its allies will secure almost 700,000 vaccines for PNG. “These vaccines are not compulsory for all citizens but would be available for those who feel that they need to protect themselves against COVID-19. Our health workers in the first instance would be given preference before the rest of us,” Prime Minister Marape said. The Prime Minister has claimed that he would be glad to be the first citizen to receive the vaccine in order to illustrate that it is safe for others to receive it too.
PNG Business News - May 03, 2021
Marape Starts Vaccine Roll-Out
On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape will formally start the vaccine roll-out in the country at the APEC House in Port Moresby. Government ministers, regional governors, and dignitaries, including delegates from PNG's foreign partners, are scheduled to attend the presentation, which begins at 10 a.m. David Manning, Police Commissioner and Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response, said most of PNG's 22 provinces will have obtained their AstraZenega vaccine and completed their training in advance of the May 5 national roll-out. He explained that the COVID-19 vaccine's National Roll-out Programme began on March 25-26 with a COVID-19 vaccination training for all Provincial Emergency Operation Centres (PEOCs), followed by a series of training activities/workshops for different target groups covering an outline of the vaccination program and microplanning, vaccine, immunization protection, connectivity, and demand creation. In the first round, 103,725 people have been registered to be vaccinated, according to Manning. They are either health care employees, support personnel in both public and private health hospitals, workers in quarantine and isolation facilities, students in health establishments such as nursing colleges and medical schools, jail guards, border and immigration/customs agents, seaport workers, or airport/aviation workers. officers, airline workers, police, Defence Force personnel and teachers. According to the Controller, the cumulative number of cases in PNG had increased to 11,206 in the last 24 hours, finishing at 12 p.m. on Friday, April 30. “That is from a total of just over 92,000 tests we have conducted to date for COVID-19. We are recording cases every day so the vaccine will be critical to our COVID-19 response going forward. I urge everyone to be responsible and make that important life-saving decision to take the jab. Protect yourself and your family,” Manning said.
PNG Business News - July 22, 2021
Oil Search Considering Merging with Santos
Santos, an Australian oil firm, announced its plan to combine with Oil Search Limited. Santos proposed a non-binding indicative merger last month with the goal of making the two companies the regional energy champions. The proposed merged entity has a market capitalization of A$22 billion (K56 billion), putting it among the top 20 ASX-listed companies and the top 20 global oil and gas companies. This means, among other things, that the merger will have a diverse portfolio of high-quality, long-life assets spanning Australia and Papua New Guinea, a solid balance sheet with ample cash to support expansion choices, and an investment-grade credit rating. The merger plan, if approved, would be conducted through a Scheme of Arrangement in which Oil Search shareholders would receive 0.589 new Santos shares for each Oil Search share held, according to Santos in a market disclosure to the Australian Stock Exchange. Following the scheme's acceptance, Oil Search shareholders would control 37% of the combined company, while Santos shareholders would own 63%. Based on Santos' closing price on June 24, 2021, the ownership ratio suggested a transaction price of A$4.25 (10.92) per Oil Search share. This was a 12.3% premium to the Oil Search closing price of A$3.78 (K9.72) on June 24, 2021, and a 9.8% premium to the Mubadala block trade selling price of A$3865. (K9.92). Kevin Gallagher, managing director and chief executive officer of Santos, said the merger will bring more alignment to PNG, allowing for the development of important projects such as Papua LNG, as well as the creation of new employment and support for the local economy. Santos, according to Gallagher, has proposed a true merger in which ownership of the combined firm is based on proportionate contribution and value. “The strategic rationale for a merger is clear and offers superior value to Oil Search shareholders rather than continuing on a standalone basis. “Santos continues to believe that the Merger Proposal represents an extremely attractive opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both Santos and Oil Search shareholders.” Oil Search stated in its ASX market update that it is open to receiving and engaging with any proposal that is in the best interests of its shareholders. While the company's board of directors agrees with Santos that combining the two firms makes strategic sense, the conditions must be fair to the company's shareholders, which the terms proposed by Santos are not. Despite Santos shareholders holding 70% more shares than Oil Search shareholders, Oil Search maintains that the proposed conditions provide just a 6.8% premium based on Friday's closing share prices for Oil Search and Santos. According to the firm, no such proposal has been made at this time. Reference: Post-Courier (21 July 2021). "Oil Search Open To Merger with Santos".
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Study Says Sweet Potato Growers Have Received Significant Insights into Customers Buying Habits
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), sweet potato (kaukau) growers have received significant insight into customer buying habits, which is assisting them in identifying new market possibilities. The recent market analysis, which was supported by the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership and conducted by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, revealed that an increasing number of consumers in Port Moresby prefer to buy fresh produce from supermarkets, citing convenience and safety as reasons. While this trend may result in fewer consumers at conventional farmer markets, PNG and Australian experts believe it may open up new marketplaces for rural people. “Farmers are looking for stable markets where they can receive more consistent prices for better-quality produce,” said Professor Philip Brown from Central Queensland University (CQU), who is leading the research project. “The research shows that consumer behaviour is likely to support an expansion in the supermarket sector in large urban centres and this is positive news for the farmers. This could allow commercial focused farmers to secure more stable market access.” The study of 353 customers was conducted as part of ACIAR-funded sweet potato research sponsored by CQU and the PNG National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), which aims to improve sweet potato value chains by increasing the quality of harvested roots. Sweet potato quality and production are improving, resulting in increasing supplies to retailers eager to provide better fresh produce. “The project, with support from the Fresh Produce Development Agency and NARI, is helping farmers to build their business skills and connect with emerging supermarket opportunities,” said Professor Brown. Kirt Hainzer, a CQU researcher who collaborated on the survey alongside NARI researchers, said it was the first study to look at customer behaviour and see what role stores may play in the development of PNG's commercial sweet potato sector. “The research sought to better understand and compare how consumers buy staples from open markets and supermarkets and to explore the preferences for purchasing staple foods as supermarkets increase the availability of convenience staples like rice,” said Hainzer. “Although expanding formal sales represents a huge step forward in developing a commercial sweet potato industry, continued research on consumer preferences and the market for fresh produce will help better understand trends in staple food purchasing and what market opportunities exist for growers.” With over a hundred kinds of sweet potato in the nation, NARI economist Raywin Ovah said the study sought to find out which of these customers preferred. “Not all the varieties are preferred from a consumer point of view. There are only a few that consumers want to be based on the taste or health properties and that is what we want to also find out. Farmers can be provided with that information, so they produce those varieties that the market wants.” One of five initiatives under the Transformative Agriculture and Enterprise Development Program is a project to increase commercial sweet potato production and commercialization in the PNG highlands. The ACIAR program, which is funded by Australia in collaboration with the government of Papua New Guinea, aims to improve the livelihoods of rural men and women through private sector-led development, increased agricultural productivity and quality, and the development of individual and institutional capacity. Reference: Loop (20 July 2021). “Study looks into sweet potato industry”.
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Garry: MRA Evaluating K50 Billion Worth of Investments
According to managing director Jerry Garry, the Mineral Resources Authority is evaluating more than K50 billion in investments in the country. Wafi-Golpu, Frieda River, and Woodlark are among them. “We are also looking at the Central Lime and Cement,” he said. “If that project comes on-stream, it will be one of the first industrial mines ever built in the country.” Garry was speaking at a Port Moresby consultation session on the Mine and Works (Safety and Health) Bill 2021. PNG, he added, was home to some of the world's largest mines. “We have grown from strength to strength,” he said. “If you compare the Bank of PNG statistics, the mining sector alone, in terms of production, has exported over K17 billion in 2020 and 2019. “So it’s a huge industry that we are trying to regulate and manage.” Garry expressed gratitude to the industry for making safety a primary priority. “They have been taking health and safety at the workplaces very seriously,” he said. “We must not only consider (the workers) and the environment but also people living around the (areas) we operate in. “And if we are using any hazards, we must also take responsibility.” The newest mining methods in Wafi-Golpu, known as block cave mining, are one of the new things to expect, according to Garry. “New mining hazards will come with this new mining method,” he said. Reference: The National (20 July 2021). “Authority assessing investments worth K50bil”.