BSP: Small to Medium Enterprises Loans reaches 60% rate.
by Paul Oeka - August 12, 2022
Photo credit: BSP
Bank South Pacific's Financial Group Ltd Chief executive officer Mr. Robin Fleming has recently announced that the bank has granted more than K200 million as loans to small to medium enterprises under its credit scheme facility that the then Marape government had released to the bank to support Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) and local businesses during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Fleming said about 1523 customer loans have been approved, that is about 60% of loan approval rates since 2019.
Prior to this announcement BSP and the Department of Commerce and Industry (DCI) had agreed to increase the maximum loan under the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) credit enhancement facility to K5 million. The previous limit was K3 million when the Government first released K100 million as security to the bank under its K200 million SME allocation for BSP to rollout the loan facility last year.
Fleming stated that even though they have exhausted and rolled out the bulk of the governments relief funds for SME's they will still be running the SME loan program under its credit facility scheme
“At this stage, BSP has not received the funding planned for this year but that is not preventing BSP from giving loans under the facility”.
“There remains significant capacity for BSP to continue to assess, approve and funds loans under the facility”.
“The agreement with the Government did provide for momentum in the SME facility to be maintained while allowing for the Government budget and funding process to be adhered to”.
As part of the government SME relief funding, Commercial Banks were allocated K200 million with BSP Financial Group receiving K100 million, NDB K80 million and another K20 million was allocated to the department of Commerce and Industry
BSP could not comment on how the National Development Bank (NDB) is dealing with the K80 million it received, but the intent, when discussions were initiated, was that BSP would be lending to more mature SMEs and NDB to startup ventures.
In addition to enabling SMEs to access lower cost of funds through the facility with BSP, the bank has also made it a responsibility to ensure that Government funding is preserved by not approving loans that have a higher risk of default.
PNG Business News - May 26, 2021
BSP Group Records Net Profit of K203 Million
In the first quarter of 2021, South Pacific Financial Group Ltd recorded a net profit of K203 million. According to the bank, this is a 2.6 per cent decrease from the first quarter of 2020, owing to a decrease in net insurance revenue and a rise in computing costs. Some highlights included net assets of K3.6 billion, a cost to income ratio of 40.3 per cent, a capital adequacy ratio of 25 per cent, a provision coverage ratio of 5.7 per cent, a market capitalisation of K5.6 billion, and earnings per share of 43 toea. The last 12 months had been tough, according to Group Chairman Sir Kostas Constantinou, "but we did well with the profits that we achieved." “We have an excellent staff, everybody’s committed,” he said. “It is unfortunate with the Covid-19, but we progress forward now with the inoculation of our staff who are behind it. The intention is to do most of the branches. We have had problems through the Pacific, places like Samoa, Tonga which have been restricted because of tourism. The Cook Islands have opened up so we are yet to see what happens. In spite of this, Sir Kostas remained positive. “Good times are coming for Papua New Guinea with the recent announcements on the progress of some of the country’s resource projects,” he said. “We are fortunate that we have the Papua LNG project that has been successfully completed and is proceeding with Total who’s the lead partner doing the upstream and Exxon doing the downstream. These projects are K48 billion and right on our doorstep and there’s not a lot of countries in the world that have these types of projects.” The news about P'Nyang was also embraced, according to Sir Kostas. Reference: The National (24 May 2021). Bank records first quarter profit of K203 million
PNG Business News - May 26, 2021
Bank South Pacific Joins ASX
The Bank South Pacific Financial Group Ltd has had its application to join the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) accepted. The bank will be listed on the ASX this week, according to Group Chief Executive Officer Robin Fleming, and shareholders will be able to transfer partial shares to the ASX. “We were listed on the PNGX (PNG Stock Exchange) in 2003 but because of the size of BSP, that market capitalisation was close to K5.6 billion,” he said. “And because of the size of BSP, it was difficult for shareholders to have larger partials of shares and actively trade their shareholdings. Being listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, shareholders can move their shares either in full or in parts to the ASX and, therefore, trade their shares far more easily on a very liquid stock exchange market. PNG resident shareholders still have to go through a process in making sure their compliant with the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) and Bank of PNG guidelines in respect to exchange control as to how they deal with any share sales. But once they move to the Australian stock exchange, they then have the capability to trade their shares far more readily and in a far more accessible format than is the case for PNG. He added, “While we have a good shareholding base in PNG because of BSP’s success, the composition of BSPs investment and the portfolio of some of the superannuation funds which is very high, we’ve been successful. Our portfolio continues to increase and even if they want to trade more actively, it is constrained by the absence of liquidity in PNG.” Sir Kostas Constantinou, the bank's chairman, said it was a watershed moment for the bank, allowing it to collect money and grow more. “It gives us liquidity, it gives our shareholders liquidity so that they can buy and sell shares and trade on the Australian Stock Exchange,” he said. Reference: The National (24 May 2021). BSP set to start trading on ASX
PNG Business News - March 31, 2021
BSP Changes Group Name
BSP Financial Group has replaced Bank South Pacific Limited as the company's name. Sir Kostas Constantinou, Chairman of the BSP, revealed this last week. The shareholders approved the name change, as well as other legislative amendments, according to Sir Kostas. BSP will now proceed with the filing of its application for listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). “The notice of the meeting is currently subject to advise and approvals, which are expected to be finalised during March 2021,” Sir Kostas said. According to BSP Group CEO Robin Fleming, the proposed ASX listing would provide access to new pools of capital on Australia's largest market. “While BSP has been listed since 2003 on the PNGX, there are a number of constraints that BSP faces in sourcing new forms of equity capital,” he said. “Accordingly, BSP is pursuing the proposed listing as a means of mitigating some of these constraints. Access to new sources of capital will allow BSP to explore future growth opportunities. Another benefit of joining the ASX is that it will facilitate increased liquidity for BSP’s shareholders (trading of BSP shares). The ASX is a much deeper (larger pool of investors) and (more) active market than the PNGX. Accordingly, shareholders will find it easier to trade BSP shares on the ASX.” The visibility of BSP would increase if it joined the ASX, according to Fleming. “It will provide the opportunity to better educate the international marketplace in relation to BSP and PNG,” he said. BSP's shares would be exchanged on both the PNGX and the ASX if authorised. When asked about the name change, CEO Robin Fleming confirmed that the iconic trade name of BSP would continue to be used throughout the Pacific.
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.