The Mounting Debt Crisis Threatening the Power Sector in Papua New Guinea
by PNG Business News - May 04, 2023
Photo: Chairman David Burbidge
According to the Independent Power Producers of Papua New Guinea, the debts of PNG Power Limited (PPL) to independent power producers (IPPs) have exceeded K500 million. IPPs are the primary source of electricity for PPL, and the accumulation of arrears has reached a critical level where it cannot continue without severe consequences, including the potential collapse of the power sector in the country.
Chairman David Burbidge expressed concern about the mounting debt, saying, "It remains of concern that PNG Power still has significant arrears in payments to independent power producers (IPPs) who provide the majority of electricity to PNG Power and its customers. This amount exceeds half a billion kina, and this situation cannot continue without significant consequences, which may include a total collapse of the power sector as PNG Power’s creditors see no option but to pursue legal remedies for non-payment of their mounting debts."
Mr Burbidge emphasized that the situation is unsustainable and could have dire consequences if not addressed promptly.
Mr Rio Fiocco, the President of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also commented on the issue, saying, "In Moresby, we have been experiencing power blackouts fairly regularly lately. But compared to other centres, we are actually doing well, very well, because in other towns such as Wewak, Vanimo, Kavieng and others, they have blackouts that sometimes last the whole day. That's because for whatever reasons PPL is not supplying diesel for the generators."
Mr Fiocco noted that many businesses have resorted to using backup generators to cope with the unreliable power supply. However, this is not a sustainable solution, and the situation calls for urgent action from all stakeholders to address the mounting debts and ensure a reliable and consistent supply of electricity in the country.
PNG Business News - April 29, 2021
Parliament Passes Energy Bill
The National Energy Authority Bill, 2020 was passed by the National Parliament with an overwhelming majority of 73 to 0. The National Energy Authority Bill was created to control renewable and non-renewable energy production, storage, delivery, and retailing. The Act will also cover the following functions: Governing the oil market by overseeing the implementation and implementation of rules, legislation, and policies. Levies, fines, tariffs, and other charges are received and collected. Responsibilities for energy research and development in order to put energy policy and legislation into practice The aim of the Act Administer the National Electrification System is to approve the corporate policies of subsidiary corporations and affiliates Administrate the National Electrification Trust Funds The Bill for an Act to Reform the Electricity Industry Act 2020 was also passed. The National Energy Authority 2020 and the Electricity Industry Act Amendment Bill 2020, according to Minister for Energy and Rural Infrastructure Saki Soloma, are the culmination of the work undertaken so far in restructuring the energy market. He said that the passed Act of Parliament would create energy and electricity industry legislation for the energy sector in general. According to him, the National Energy Authority Bill 2020 establishes a robust and equitable legislative framework, with fines imposed on those that violate the Act and regulations. He went on to say that the Electricity Industry Act (Amendment Bill) contained consequential changes to the Electricity Industry Act, allowing the National Energy Authority Act, which was passed by Parliament, to go into effect right away. The National Energy Authority Bill 2020 is based on the same model used for the establishment of stationary authorities such as the National Fisheries Authority, National Information and Communication Technology Authority, and others, according to the explanatory notice. It specifies that the National Energy Authority is a policy and regulatory agency, not a commercial institution, as stated in the Act. PNG Power Limited will no longer be an economic or technological authority and the NEA will conduct the licensing and technical functions that were formerly handled by PNG Power Limited.
PNG Business News - May 04, 2021
Australia Supports Electrification for PNG
The Australian government has decided to contribute $US90 million (K315 million) to the Marape government's top-priority Edevu Transmission and Electrification program. The Edevu hydropower plant, which is based in Sogeri, is part of the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership, which seeks to reach 70 per cent electrification across the country by 2030 with the support of Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and Japan. Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey praised the announcement, calling it a major step forward for the Marape government's electrification efforts. “With only 13 per cent of the nation connected to power, this is a very important and ambitious project,” he said. “We know that the original announcement was made at the APEC meeting. This was a good announcement. But it is one thing to make big announcements and cut ribbons. “Support from our international friends and allies is critical, and I am grateful that Australia, through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, is coming to the party.” Ling-Stuckey stated that the discovery would be on favourable terms, with a $US18 million grant portion (K65 million). The money will be on-loaned to PNG Power Ltd, pending NEC clearance. The Edevu project would have the required infrastructure to link modern hydropower generation to the Port Moresby Grid, allowing diesel generation to be replaced at a lower cost and with less environmental impact. It will also allow for the upgrade of substations to improve grid stability. PPL will now be able to purchase and mount smart meters in consumer premises as part of the funding. Taxes, duties, levies, and fees on supplies, utilities, and facilities available for the project would be exempted as part of the Marape government's contribution.
PNG Business News - March 11, 2021
Puma Energy Concerned About Shortage of Forex
Puma Energy PNG Ltd is concerned about a shortage of foreign currency (forex) to import crude oil in a timely manner, according to country manager and director Hulala Tokome. The business paid for its crude supplies when forex was available on the market, he said. Tokome added that the availability of forex had influenced the crude oil purchase schedule, also commenting on oil prices, citing Platts as a source. According to Tokome, oil prices for February have been steadily rising. Platts is a source of benchmark price assessments in the physical energy markets and a provider of energy and metal knowledge. “Hence, we will have an increase in prices for March as the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) pricing structure is based on Mean of Platts (MOP) Singapore prices for the prior month,” Tokome said. “There is a one month lag on pricing effect. “All eyes will be on the Opec (Organisation of petroleum exporting countries) meeting. Their decision to increase crude oil production or not will determine which direction prices will go. There is strong market optimism around global demand returning on the back of vaccine rollouts.” Many countries have begun to announce plans to phase out lockdowns, he said, and the warmer weather could help support demand. “With this, prices should continue to trend upwards,” Tokome said. Brent rates are currently at US$64/bbl (K220.95/barrel of oil), according to Tokome.
PNG Business News - June 05, 2023
PNG PM Marape Participates in PIF Leaders Breakfast Caucas
Photo: PNG PM Marape Participates in PIF Leaders Breakfast Caucas Prior to the Korean-Pacific Islands Leaders (Kor-Pic) Meeting, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Marape joined other PIC Leaders for a breakfast caucus Chaired by Cook Islands Prime Minister and current Pacific Islands Forum Chair Mark Brown, to discuss the agenda and a common position on shared development issues. Prime Minister Marape said climate variation, being the perennial issue including sourcing appropriate development assistance from the Korean Government was high on the agenda. He said the encouragement during the caucus was for all PIC Leaders to discuss their developmental challenges and put forward their ideas on how Korean Development assistance could complement the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy. Following this caucus, Prime Minister Marape, met with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. Their discussions were centered around progress of the proposed Bilateral Security Treaty (BST), the recently concluded Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, Visa issues and the PNG NRL Bid. On the BST, Prime Minister Marape mentioned that it was work in progress and required the PNG side to consult our domestic processes and sovereign laws in relation to certain wordings and provisions. He also conveyed his apologies to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for the delay in formalising this proposed Treaty with Australia. For the DCA with the US, Prime Minister Marape informed that it was centered around improving the PNGDF's capabilities and interoperability including protecting our frontiers and sovereignty. He said it was non-discriminatory and PNG was open to entering into similar arrangements with its bilateral partners. “In fact, the DCA would also complement domestic law enforcement,” Prime Minister Marape said. “The Ship Rider Agreement on the other hand was also vital in combating illegal fishing and transnational crimes.” For Visa issues, Deputy Prime Minister Marles informed that the current Australian Government was fully aware of the situation and following the Ministerial Forum in February this year in Canberra, had established a Joint Ministerial Team to work on bringing the Australian visa processing facility back on shore to PNG. Prime Minister Marape in his response said that all processes from both sides had to be attended to in order for smooth facilitation and for citizens and businesses to continue without much hindrance now and heading into 2050 when PNG celebrates 50 years of nationhood. On Papua New Guinea’s NRL Bid, Prime Minister Marape explained that PNG was still very keen as rugby league was a major unifying factor, bringing our 800 tribes together as one people. In closing Prime Minister Marape assured Deputy Prime Minister Marles that PNG in no way would compromise its excellent existing bilateral relations with Australia and further stressed that PNG was capable of managing its sovereign affairs on its terms, systems and processes.
PNG Business News - June 05, 2023
ADB Helps Launch Vocational Education Project in PNG
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) today launched a cofinanced project to improve the country’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) program. PNG's Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso delivered a keynote address at the launch event at Port Moresby Technical College. PNG’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, and Sports Don Polye, ADB Country Director for Papua New Guinea David Hill, and Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Paul Lehmann all spoke at the event. The Improved Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Employment Project financed by ADB and the governments of Australia and PNG will strengthen the country’s TVET program and help prepare students to be more competitive and responsive to employment and industry demands. “We hope this project will become a model for all vocational education and skills training in TVET colleges in the country,” said Mr. Rosso. “The beneficiaries of this project—young, skilled workers, including women and men—represent PNG’s future, and through this project, the future of vocational education in PNG looks bright.” This project aims to boost the numbers of skilled workers in the construction and agriculture sectors where demand is high. “We will work with our partners to help advance reforms in the vocational education and skills training space in PNG,” said Mr.Hill. “These sought-after skills in priority sectors will help grow PNG’s economy.” The TVET sector of PNG’s education system comprises public, religious, or private institutions, including technical and business colleges offering postsecondary courses and vocational training. “The Australian government is pleased to be supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea to achieve its reform goals in technical and vocational education and training to increase the number and quality of skilled workers,” said Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Paul Lehmann. “My vision for the TVET for Employment Project is that it will perform as an innovation and technology business incubator across PNG,” said Mr. Polye. “The project is the embodiment of a new approach—building a culture of quality education and innovation in a renewed and revitalized TVET sector.” The Improved Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Employment Project is funded through a $50 million concessional loan from ADB and a $10.6 million grant from Australia. The Government of PNG is also contributing $5.7 million. ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.
PNG Business News - June 05, 2023
PNG Forges an Innovation-fueled Partnership with South Korea in Digital Transformation
Papua New Guinea was amongst seven other Pacific Island countries to sign a partnership statement of intent with the Republic of Korea to further cooperation and partnership in digital transformation. Information and Communications Technology Minister Timothy Masiu, who also was appointed co- chair of the just concluded Korea -Pacific Islands Digital Ministerial Conference in Seoul, South Korea, signed the statement together with the meeting chairman Korean Minister for Science and ICT Dr Lee Jong-Ho. The others who signed the partnership intent are Tonga, Nauru, Samoa, Palau, Cook Islands and Kiribati. Australia and the World Bank also attended the meeting as supporting partners. The Statement of Intent states; The partnership recognize digitalization has transformed not only daily lives but also shapes innovation in all sectors including politics, economy, society, culture and environment. Recognize and note that digital technology offers great potential to address various social economic challenges that come with rapid transformation of society. Agree on continued partnership in digital transformation inclusive of sustainable development will be the key to future prosperity of the people of Korea and the pacific. Agree on sharing digital vision of policies will pave way for strong partnership to digital co-prosperity. Mr Masiu expressed deep satisfaction that Korea , the global leading innovation country, has agreed to partner with Pacific countries including Papua New Guinea in digital transformation that will greatly enhance communication in a vast area like the Pacific and more so, strengthen supporting technology to better access to health, education and business. He told the conference that Papua New Guinea has begun the digital transformation with Parliament passing the Digital Government Act 2022 and relevant policies, and welcomed the partnership with the Republic of Korea, which he says, will go a long way in progressing the digital transformation agenda for PNG and the region. Mr Masiu had bilateral meeting with his South Korean counterpart, further seeking a stronger country to country relations in digital transformation and support to the National Broadcasting Corporation proposing a partnership between the NBC and the Korean Broadcasting Services. The Minister has formally invited the Korean Minister for Science and ICT to visit Papua New Guinea for the Pacific ICT meeting in August 2023 or to accompany the South Korean President who has been invited by Prime Minister James Marape to visit PNG. Mr Marape was in Seoul also this week for the Korea- Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting. Minister Dr Lee Jong-Ho acknowledges the leadership of Papua New Guinea in digital transformation and reaffirmed its support to PNG and the other Pacific Island countries.