PNG To Gain K85b From Papua LNG, Says Official
by PNG Business News - September 05, 2022
Photo credit: TotalEnergies
According to an official, Papua New Guinea would gain K86 billion from the Papua LNG project throughout its lifetime.
Jean-Marc Noiray, managing director of Total Energies PNG Ltd, made the comments at the induction ceremony for new lawmakers in Port Moresby. He said this when acknowledging the country’s laws and regulations that governed resource projects as some of the best in the world.
Local laws, according to Noiray, recognised landowners and gave the State and its citizens a powerful role.
“From a regulatory point of view, we have done all that was needed, we have the gas agreement which secures the fiscal and regulatory terms,” he told MPs.
“They are stabilised in a fiscal stability agreement with all the amendments that were required. So we are ready to go.”
According to Noiray, during the course of the project's existence, the State would collect between 50 and 55 percent of its worth.
“The higher the price of the gas, the more the shareholders are going to get,” he added.
“The direct value going to the State we reckon will be in the order and value of US$25 billion (K86 billion) over the life of the project.
“Just half of that is direct from what the developer will pay in terms of income tax than we have other direct taxes that will be paid, the workforce for example which we reckon is in US$3 billion (K10 billion) and indirect benefit in the order of US$8 billon (K27 billion) going to the country.
“All those numbers, we will round them up and will be in the file that we will give to the authorities to try to get our different licenses.
“We are keen to start contributing big to the country and to help the country and its citizens and local communities.”
Reference: Pacific Mining Watch (29 August 2022). “Papua New Guinea getting K86 billion from gas”.
PNG Business News - February 15, 2021
PM Says LNG Project is Moving in the Right Direction
After the signing of the fiscal stability agreement, Prime Minister James Marap said that the Papua LNG project is going in the right direction. He gave confidence to the investors that PNG has an active democracy. “We appreciate very much that this project has now been moved,” he said. “The Government will ensure that all necessary support is procured for this project to be moved as our project developer moves into the FEED phase. Our country is moving into exciting years ahead. Let me sound this out to our investors: Today is a testament to what democracy in PNG is all about, irrespective of the politics that is at play. Our economy is in a very vibrant democracy. Our rule of law prevails, our judiciary always presides over matters that are in conflict. Our country has not terminated any project agreement during the life of the contract.”Apologising to investors that the government had caused them too much stress, he said, “The Government provides the social licensing, provides the security also. It needs to ensure that all ticks that need to be ticked are ticked, with respect to the laws that we have.”
PNG Business News - February 15, 2021
Oil Search Happy with Papua LNG Progress
Oil Search Ltd is happy to see the progress of the US$12 billion (K41.38 billion) Papua LNG project.According to Oil Search managing director Dr Keiran Wulff, “We are pleased to see further progress achieved on the Papua LNG. This milestone highlights the commitment from the Government towards Papua LNG and is a significant step in de-risking the project. It also demonstrates increasing alignment between the Government and the joint venture partners. We look forward to progressing the Papua LNG and announcing further milestones consistent with our strategic review announced last November.”Total, the operator of the project signed the agreement - together with ExxonMobil and Oil Search - signed an agreement with the government early this week. This is seen as a final step under the Papua LNG gas agreement to proceed with the project fiscal stability. Total managing director, meanwhile, Jean-Marc Noiray said that they welcome the “whole stabilisation of the project”.“The Feed (front end engineering design) itself will last between 15 and 18 months, from the moment we reach the final investment decision,” he said. “And from final investment decision to first gas, we have about four years of construction. It’s a long journey before we get to the first gas, and the first revenues for the developers and the country.”
PNG Business News - February 26, 2021
Oil Search Shows Strong Performance
Oil Search has brought a strong financial year in 2020 with a core net profit after tax of US$22.0million (K77m), also reported to a full-year production of 29.0 mmboe and the strongest safety performance since assuming operatorship in 2003.The financial results were significantly lower realised hydrocarbon prices in 2020 as compared to 2019, which resulted in a full-year net loss of US$320.7 million (K1.1bn). This includes a post-tax impairment charge of US$260.2 million (K908.7m) that had been recognised in the interim financial results.For managing director Dr Keiran Wulff, “Oil Search emerged from 2020 stronger and more resilient as a result of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, demand collapse and oil price downturn. Despite the material challenges, Oil Search achieved three important records for the year. The first is the strongest safety performance in PNG since becoming the operator of the PNG oil fields in 2003, with a total recordable incident rate of 0.78 per million hours worked, and no Tier 1 process safety events.”According to Wulff, the second is the strongest production reliability from its operations in PNG since the 2018 earthquake and, the delivery of record annual production from the PNG LNG project.He said that the company brought down some decisive actions. “We also undertook a major strategic review to prioritise activities and capital spend for a low carbon future,” he said. “This resulted in streamlining our portfolio and incurring a non-recurring, post-tax impairment charge of US$260.2 million (K908.7m). We are a more focused, leaner and lower cost resilient business in a strong position to commercialise our world-class resource base and leverage the oil price. We will continue to focus on maximising operating cash flow and delivering material growth projects which will be underpinned by resilient operations and disciplined capital management. We have set up a dedicated transformation team to embed a high-performance culture across the business.”
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.