Keep Current with the Times by Reviewing Safety Regulations: Mano
by PNG Business News - July 15, 2021
According to a provincial official, mine safety laws need to be updated to keep up with current trends and practices.
This was said by Levi Mano, the deputy administrator of East New Britain, at the beginning of a consultation forum for the New Guinea Islands area on the mine and works on safety and health bill 2021, which includes the Mine Safety Act (1977) in Kokopo.
The Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management hosted the one-day consultation conference.
According to Mano, the extractive industry has become more complex and diverse, necessitating the incorporation of legislative changes.
“We are in the equator and we are also vulnerable to the environment and there are certain things engineers do not expect things to happen but it happens also,” Mano said.
“We have not experienced any major disaster in mining here in PNG apart from minor ones like from what we have been hearing from the other parts of the world.
“We don’t want to wait for that time to happen when hundreds of people should be trapped in the cave of whatever operation that we have.
“I think we are always proactive and, therefore, I want to say thank you to the department team for taking some yard steps in making sure that we properly legislate for safety in all our mines in our country.”
Mano believes that it is the appropriate moment to draft legislation to safeguard ourselves, the environment, and infrastructure.
The state team, which comprised the Department of Provincial Affairs, State Solicitors, Department of Labour, and legal officials within the department, was in charge of the consultation forum, which was led by the acting secretary of the department.
The National (13 July 2021). “Review safety regulations to keep up with trend: Mano”.
PNG Business News - February 23, 2021
St Barbara Transitions from Mining Oxide to Sulphide
St Barbara Ltd’s Simberi operations in New Ireland is set to transition from mining oxide ore to sulphide. The mine which has been producing gold since 2009 said that its social and environmental impact studies (SEIS) are presently being finished for submission to the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) and Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) in March.Sulphide mining is predicted to extend its mine life for at least another 10 years and produce more benefits for stakeholders.St Barabara managing director and chief executive Craig Jetson said, “We are at an important stage of operations at Simberi, as we continue to productively mine the oxide deposit and plan for a bright future via the Simberi sulphide project.”He added, “Iso will capably lead us through this transition as we support our Simberi community, contribute to New Ireland and deliver on our commitments to PNG.”Meanwhile, the firm said that since 2009, the mine has brought K84.3 million in royalties, paid an annual 0.5 per cent production levy and contributed over K97.4 million in contracts to landowner businesses.“In 2020, the company paid over K28 million in income tax,” according to St Barbara. “Other community benefits delivered since 2012, when St Barbara acquired the mine, amount to over K119 million. They include health and education infrastructure development, roads and bridges maintenance, cocoa farming, mariculture projects, education scholarships and employment and training.”
PNG Business News - February 23, 2021
Iso Ealedona Appointed General Manager for Simberi Mine
St Barbara Limited’s Simberi operations in the New Ireland province has a new general manager in the person of Iso Ealedona.Ealedona was previously the head of operations for the past seven months and is a mining engineer and pioneer of the PNG University of Technology mining degree program. With over 26 years of experience in the industry working in Australia for Rio Tinto Iron Ore and in PNG at Misima, Ok Tedi, Hidden Valley, Lihir and St Barbara’s Simberi Operations, his expertise includes operational leadership, technical services, maintenance, safety management and business transformation.“As a recognised employer of choice, we are proud to be the first public company (ASX listed) operating in PNG to entrust this important role to a capable Papua New Guinean with the right skills and experience to lead our 1200 strong workforce at Simberi,” he said. “We are at an important stage of operations at Simberi, as we continue to mine the oxide deposit and plan for a bright future via the Simberi sulphide project. Iso will capably lead us through this transition as we support our Simberi community, contribute to NIP and deliver on our commitments to PNG,” said Craig Jetson, St Barbara’s managing director and CEO.”He said, “It’s an honour to lead, on behalf of St Barbara, a mining operation in my home country. With the St Barbara executive, Simberi leadership team and the workforce behind me, I am determined to lead Simberi safely and successfully through this transition period of oxide to sulphide mining for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
PNG Business News - March 01, 2021
Landowners Support National Government on Wafi Golpu Project
The Wafi-Golpu landowners have finally voiced out their support to the National Government on the environmental permit given to mine developers. The five associations chairmen - Victor Geactuluc (Yanta Development Association), John Nema (Hengambu Landowner Association), Jack Raban (Babuaf Development Corporation) of the Special Mining Lease (SML) area including Joseph Tetang (Wampar Pipeline Association) and Gae Galang (Wagan Outfall Association) - said they want the project to proceed and are asking Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu to desist from any purported court proceedings against the Sate about the deep-sea tailings placement (DSTP).Saonu, however, said that Morobe’s position still stands. “I will do what is right, just and fair for everyone,” he said.According to an independent body monitoring and evaluating process for the last four years, the landowners shouldn’t rush into things. The leaders argued that this process may cost Morobe and the provincial government millions of kina and added that the mining forum is the best place to discuss this problem. Nema said that he has lost more than 20 of his community members to common natural calamities and lack of basic health services. “I am against the move by our governor to register another court proceeding against the National Government while my people are suffering and dying without seeing any real developments or benefiting from their land,” he said.Geactuluc said that they don’t support the intention of the governor to take this to court. “We urge the good governor to refrain from wasting his time with his consultants and advisers but instead commit his time and resource to mobilise the SML, Pipeline and Outfall landowners through their associations in preparation for the upcoming Wafi Project MoA,” he said.For his part, Tetang urged the governor to have a discussion on how he intends to recognise the Huon Gulf coastal communities benefit-sharing instead of fighting a losing arrangement to prevent DSTP. “That is why the developer has chosen DSTP because it is much safer and could not harm the marine resources or the coastal communities based on the research and studies conducted,” he said.
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.