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PNG Business News - January 12, 2022

Madang Chamber of Commerce and Industry Proposes Joint Venture for Pacific Marine Industrial Zone

Photo Credit: PNGI Central  The Madang Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) has proposed a joint venture between the private sector and the government to build the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project in Madang. Kevin Murray, president of the Chamber, believes the project will be unlikely to be funded entirely by the government. In the 2022 National Budget, the government set aside K100 million for the project, with an expected total cost of K1.2 billion by the end of 2025. “The PMIZ project has been on and off for about 10 years,” Murray told The National. “If it does go ahead like promised, it will be a major development for Madang. “It has been promised a number of times in the past and I can’t predict what is actually going to happen. We are all hoping that it’s going to go ahead. “It more than likely should be a joint venture by the corporate sector and government. “I don’t (think) the Government is going to fund it and frankly, companies who are going to build their business within the PMIZ are obviously going to bear the cost of building their own infrastructure. “The Government can help by providing roads and other infrastructure for commercial activities. “Companies themselves should be able to build their own factories or production facilities for the PMIZ. “The Government should play its part by making sure that there are proper roads, water is provided and there is electricity.”   Reference: The National (10 January 2022). “Official suggests PMIZ project be co-funded”.

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PNG Business News - January 12, 2022

ICCC Likely to Approve Telstra Clearance

Photo credit: Ry Crozier - Telstra The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) ruled that Telstra's planned acquisition of Digicel PNG would not impair competition in the telecommunications industry, thus the deal is likely to go forward. Members of the public can still offer their opinions, which will be taken into account, according to the commissioner and chief executive officer Paulus Ain. This comes after the ICCC determined that the planned transaction will not reduce competition in the telecommunications industry. The ICCC will give the deal the go light, according to Ain in a draft judgment. The public will now be invited to comment on the proposed merger. “After careful consideration of the information provided in Telstra’s clearance application, as well as comments received from both industry participants and relevant stakeholders, including available market information, the ICCC concluded in its draft determination that the proposed acquisition will not have, or will not be likely to have, the effect of substantially lessening competition in any telecommunication services market,” Ain said. “The ICCC, therefore, proposes to give clearance to Telstra to proceed with the proposed acquisition. “The ICCC now invites persons who may have an interest in the proposed acquisition to provide comments and or make submissions on the draft determination.” Except for material designated "secret" by the sender, he added, all contributions will be viewed as public information. "Where the material is designated secret, the submitter must explain justification(s) for why that information should not be made public or kept private. “The ICCC will assess and decide on the confidentiality claim(s),” he said. “All comments and submissions should reach the ICCC by Jan 25, 2022.”    Reference: The National (7 January 2021). “ICCC to give Telstra clearance”.

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PNG Business News - January 11, 2022

OTML signs PGK50million Phase 1 of Tabubil-Kiunga Road Upgrade & Sealing Project

Photo credit: Ok Tedi Mining - Part of the Tabubil/Telefomin road currently under construction is one of the TCS funded projects. Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has signed a PGK50 million project agreement to commence the upgrading and sealing of the Kiunga-Tabubil Highway.  The agreement was signed today (11th January 2022) in Port Moresby between OTML and contractor, China Railway Construction Engineering Group Co. Limited for Phase One of project. Funded under the Government’s Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme (ITCS) program, the project will be undertaken in three phases, with Phase One to commence in February which will see the upgrading and sealing of the highway commencing at Kilometre-3 near Kiunga town. Phases 2 and 3 will follow suit once further funding is available through the ITCS. OTML Deputy CEO and General Manager Community and Operations Support, Kedi Ilimbit, said the 135-kilometre highway provides a vital link for the people of North Fly and having it upgraded and sealed will significantly help the people, local farmers and small-to-medium enterprises. Since 1997 OTML has spent over PGK300 million on ITCS projects in Western Province and Telefomin District in Sandaun Province. These include high impact priority projects in Health, Education, Law and Justice and Transport Infrastructure and Utilities. OTML recently thanked the National Government for increasing the Tax Credit Scheme (TCS) ceiling from 0.75% to 2% as announced in the 2022 National Budget. The increased tax credit ceiling along with improved performance by OTML in the near term, mine performance is expected to see a significant increase in annual tax credits from approximately K25 million per annum to more than K100 million per annum over the life of the mine Other major projects being considered include the upgrading and sealing of the Daru Town Roads and airport extension, construction of a new District Court House in Kiunga, refurbishment of the Aiambak Secondary High School, road link to Vanimo and Hela Province, construction of Atemkit/Kavorabip road and construction of the road from Alice Pit to the border.   Article courtesy of Ok Tedi Mining

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PNG Business News - January 04, 2022

PNGEITI HAILS SMOOTH MERGER OF PROMINENT INDUSTRY PAYERS IN SANTOS & OIL SEARCH

Photo credit: PNGEITI - Lucas Alkan Papua New Guinea’s prominent petroleum company, Oil Search Ltd merger into Santos has been welcomed by the PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI).   PNGEITI hailed the merger as a milestone achievement for both companies who are prominent and competitive players in the PNG petroleum space.   “The smooth transitioning of this merger arrangement demonstrates an independent and vibrant regulatory environment in Papua New Guinea where business can operate free of undue control and influence” PNG EITI Head of National Secretariat Lucas Alkan commented.   Santos Limited on Friday 17th December, 2021 announced on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) that the merger of Santos and Oil Search Limited (Oil Search) was effected on the same day. Accordingly, Santos has acquired 100 per cent of the issued capital in Oil Search from Oil Search shareholders. “Papua New Guinea EITI is happy to witness this merger of two strong companies and we believe that this arrangement will bring enhanced benefits for the shareholders and the economy.  “Oil Search has been a founding member of the PNG EITI Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) and has played significant roles in the EITI implementation process in Papua New Guinea. “We thank Oil Search as a company for the support PNGEITI enjoyed for the last eight years and we look forward to welcoming Santos, another significant player in the industry now with boosted capacity and as second biggest player in the PNGLNG project and other significant projects that are in the pipeline- to the PNGEITI MSG,” Mr. Alkan said. “We also extend our warm congratulations to  MSG representative  Mr. Musje Werror, Managing Director Ok Tedi Mining Ltd for being appointed to the Santos board as non-executive director  and we look forward to working with him in that capacity as well going forward. “ Mr. Alkan added.   Article courtesy of PNGEITI

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PNG Business News - January 04, 2022

Survey Finds Coping with Household Finances Biggest Worry for PNG Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic

World Bank and UNICEF surveys of Papua New Guinean families have found that while levels of employment, access to education and healthcare remained relatively stable from January to June 2021, 93% of households in PNG had used at least one economic coping strategy since the beginning of 2021, and 40% had used five or more coping strategies. According to the third round of surveys of approximately 3000 Papua New Guineans (the first round was conducted in June 2020, and the second in December 2020), 88% are ‘very worried’ or ‘somewhat worried’ about their household finances. The most common coping strategies included finding ways to earn extra money (71% of households), spending from personal savings (52%) and receiving non-cash assistance from friends or family (47%). Only seven percent of households reported receiving any assistance from national or provincial governments. Conducted between May and July this year by the World Bank and UNICEF – just before the major spike in COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant that has severely stretched PNG’s health services – the new surveys show that a third of households (35%) reported reduced or no income since the start of 2020, and households in rural areas were significantly more likely to experience a decline or stop in their income (36%) than households in urban areas (23%). Other key findings from the latest surveys include: 93% of PNG families reported using at least one coping strategy since the beginning of 2021, an 8% increase from the first survey when 85% reported using at least one coping strategy. Most families that employed coping strategies were in the bottom 40 percent of the wealth distribution. 33% of households reported selling livestock as a coping strategy, more than double the number that reported using this coping strategy in the first survey (15%). More than two-thirds of all households reported at least one incidence of food insecurity in the past 30 days, with the highest number of families in the Islands region (73%) and the lowest in the Highlands (63%). Less than a quarter of primary school students participated in distance learning when schools were closed in the first half of this year. Of those who didn’t participate, nearly all reported that the reason was that no remote learning program was available. Women-headed households were much more likely to expect no income from this year’s growing season (13%) compared to those households with male heads (2%). Nearly half of all respondents felt that conditions related to drug and alcohol abuse had become worse since January 2021 – the same result as in the first survey. Stefano Mocci, World Bank Country Manager for Papua New Guinea (PNG) said that with the reality that the pandemic will continue to cause significant impacts for some time yet, it was vital that formal safety nets and assistance are expanded in Papua New Guinea. “Families, especially those in the bottom 40% of incomes, are reducing their savings and assets, and increasing their debt, just to keep everyone fed and going to school. But this will only make economic recovery even harder in the long term,” said Mocci. “And the impacts of the pandemic are not felt equally, with many indicators showing that those in rural areas, and those in the bottom 40% of the wealth distribution, are struggling significantly more than other groups. “We have been working with the PNG Government on economic recovery support throughout 2021, and this ongoing research will help PNG target support where it’s needed the most.” Claudes Kamenga, UNICEF Representative for Papua New Guinea (PNG) stressed that the ongoing response efforts are critical for children and adolescents, the future of the country. “While COVID-19 continues to affect families and communities differently, it is clear that the most vulnerable households are especially hard hit. With more than three quarters of students who were not able to benefit from distance learning during previous school closures, children and adolescents in vulnerable households will find it even harder to participate in future distance learning opportunities and to return to school," Kamenga highlighted. "Any decisions made for economic recovery now, affects children tomorrow and UNICEF stands committed to support the Government's COVID-19 response to help mitigate these impacts. The full report is [available online]. The next round of the survey is now underway and will reflect the impacts of the Delta outbreak in July and August 2021. The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific – including Papua New Guinea – supporting 84 projects totaling US$2.09 billion in commitments in sectors like agriculture, health, education and employment, climate resilience and adaptation, energy, fisheries, rural development, economic policy, macroeconomic management, aviation and transport, telecommunications and tourism. UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF works for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

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PNG Business News - December 21, 2021

Parliament passes ABG 2022 Budget

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has approved a budget of nearly K500 million for the fiscal year 2022. The 'One Post Referendum Budget' was the topic of the 2022 ABG Budget, which was presented in parliament by ABG Minister for Treasury and Finance Hon. Salas, Mathias “The budget directly addresses all priorities that the ABG has set towards our journey to independence,” Minister Salas said. “The main focus of the 2022 ABG Budget is the consolidation of the peace and political process through economic and infrastructure development to prepare and mobilize the people of the conduct of consultations and negotiations for Independence in Bougainville,” he said. Minister Salas noted that the National Government contributes around 91 per cent of the overall budget, which represents a 29 per cent increase over the total appropriation from the National Government to the ABG in 2021. “Funds that are provided by the national government through the national budget are part of its commitments to the rebuilding and political process in Bougainville aimed at targeted projects or programs,” Minister Salas said.  “In 2022, the total appropriation is estimated at an amount of K549,324,600.00, with total National Government Grants at K424,065,000.00, ABG internal revenue at K45,000,000.00 and re-appropriated funds estimated at K74,683,100.00,” Salas said. Minister Salas also expressed his concern that the National Government offer clarity on a mismatch in statistics in the National Budget for funding allotted to Bougainville. “Clarification will be sought from the National Government on the amount of K430,065,000.00 allocated to the ABG (in the Appropriation Bill) when in fact the budget schedules show a figure of K424,065,000.00, a variance of K6,000,000.00,” Salas explained. Minister Salas had made a formal request to the Prime Minister and the National Minister for Finance for more information on the difference at recent joint government meetings in Port Moresby.   Reference: Autonomous Bougainville Government (15 December 2021). “Parliament passes ABG 2022 Budget”. 

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PNG Business News - December 11, 2021

JOINT STATEMENT: PAPUA NEW GUINEA-AUSTRALIA ANNUAL LEADERS DIALOGUE

The third Papua New Guinea-Australia Annual Leaders' Dialogue was conducted virtually on December 8, 2021, between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prime Minister James Marape. The two Prime Ministers recognized the fundamental importance of the bilateral relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, as well as our shared interests in a safe, stable, peaceful, wealthy, and democratic region. They reaffirmed their commitment to the Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership between Papua New Guinea and Australia (CSEP). Papua New Guinea and Australia are collaborating to combat COVID-19's health and economic consequences. In addition to the more than $340 million in COVID-19-related assistance that Australia has provided to support Papua New Guinea's response to the pandemic, Prime Minister Morrison announced that Australia will contribute an additional $35 million in sector budget support to the Papua New Guinea Government's tuition fee subsidy for primary schools, ensuring that around 1.1 million primary school students can continue their education. Prime Minister Marape commended Australia for its unwavering commitment to provide PNG with a complete COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution assistance. The Prime Ministers also talked about Australia's financial support for Papua New Guinea's economic reforms and budget repair, as well as the suspension of Papua New Guinea's principle and interest obligations on a 2020 loan from Australia, as part of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. Despite global economic concerns, Prime Minister Marape praised Australian corporations such as Santos, Fortescue Future Industries, and Telstra for their willingness to invest in Papua New Guinea. The Prime Ministers praised the tight cooperation between Australia and Papua New Guinea in meeting Papua New Guinea's development requirements, which includes the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP). They addressed the AIFFP's pipeline of high-quality, long-term infrastructure projects, including transportation-related infrastructure and energy projects. They expressed their enthusiasm for working together under the AIFFP to build high-quality, climate-resilient ports infrastructure that would benefit the people of Papua New Guinea economically and socially. The Prime Ministers recognized the need of conserving Papua New Guinea's forests, including contributing to the global response to climate change, which poses a particular threat to the Pacific. They agreed that Australia will offer greater assistance to the forestry industry in Papua New Guinea, including project funding for nature-based climate solutions. At COP26 in Glasgow, Prime Ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Building Capacity for Participation in Global Carbon Markets, creating a cooperation under the Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme. The Prime Ministers reviewed Australia's long-standing support for PNG's national election procedures, highlighting ongoing collaboration through their respective national election boards as well as logistical and other support for PNG's national election in 2022. The Prime Ministers discussed the Solomon Islands Government's request for Australia and Papua New Guinea to deploy quickly with Fiji and New Zealand to bolster the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force's response to public disturbance. They emphasized the necessity of peacefully, legally, and via communication settling any conflicts. The Prime Ministers agreed to keep working together to address the Pacific family's common issues. They talked on the relevance of the Pacific Islands Forum and its crucial role in responding to shared issues, as well as their wishes for the Forum's sustained unity.   Reference: Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council (9 December 2021). “Joint Statement: Papua New Guinea-Australia Annual Leaders Dialogue

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PNG Business News - December 09, 2021

United States Government Lukautim Graun Program and CEFI Launch New Partnership

CEFI Executive Director Saliya Ranasinghe (3rd from left), Bank of PNG Assistant Governor Ellison Pidik (4th left) and AOR / Development Assistance Specialist, USAID Julie Hulama and Maurice Knight (Cardno LGP Chief of party) with the signed financial inclusion partnership documents. The Lukautim Graun Program (LGP) — funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Cardno International Development — and the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) signed a partnership agreement to roll out financial literacy trainings in six provinces in Papua New Guinea. Approximately 86% of PNG’s population lives in rural and remote areas on land owned by traditional landowners. Pressures from such industries as forest extraction as well as population growth threaten the PNG’s natural resources and biodiversity. With limited options local communities are tempted to convert their resources to meet short-term needs. This risks the ability of current and future generations to meet their needs and potentially opportunities for increased conflict larger demands for governments to care for those whose resources have been lost. USAID’s Lukautim Graun Program is a five-year project that works with PNG governments and non-governmental organizations to empower traditional landowners to directly manage and conserve the natural resources on which their livelihoods, wellbeing, and social stability depend. CEFI promotes financial inclusion and literacy, poverty elimination and the promotion of vibrant financial sector across Papua New Guinea, including for those in rural and remote areas. CEFI advances accessible quality financial services, innovative delivery channels and financial education to those who are often completely left out of the formal economy. CEFI also works to ensure financial education is introduced into public and private school curriculums and promote standardization and certification processes for the delivery of financial literacy training in PNG. CEFI’s mission aligns with USAID’s LGP-based efforts to expand entrepreneurship and creative enterprises, increase access to financial services, and develop new micro- and small-scale businesses in PNG, particularly for people who live in rural and remote areas. CEFI and USAID’s LGP program will particularly emphasize women’s economic empowerment. “Unless women and girls are empowered to fully participate in the economy, PNG will not be able to meet its development targets,” Maurice Knight, Chief of Party for USAID’s Lukautim Graun Program, said. “And for women, and men, to be fully enabled in the economy, PNG’s biodiversity and natural resources must be wisely managed so that current generations can meet their needs while not threatening the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The linkages are obvious.” Mr. Saliya Ranasinghe, Executive Director for CEFI stated that “Financial inclusion is identified as an important priority in the implementation of CEFI’s third financial inclusion strategy which women and youth are important under the digital financial services and financial literacy and financial education.” “This agreement between Cardno and CEFI aligns with USAID’s 2020 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy that affirms USAID’s vision of a prosperous and peaceful world in which women, girls, men, and boys enjoy equal economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights and are equally empowered to secure better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries,” said Julie Hulama, USAID Development Specialist. “Our cooperation also aligns with CEFI’s financial inclusion strategy that prioritizes access to financial services for informal and small-scale enterprise development, SME Finance, resource sector engagement and digital finance. The signing of this MOU comes at the perfect time as we launch our new 2022-2026 in the first quarter of 2022,” said Mr. Loi Bakani, Chair and member of the Board of CEFI. Through the USAID Lukautim Graun Program, CEFI and Cardno will begin implementing joint training programs in the first quarter of 2022 in Eastern Highlands, Jiwaka, Madang, Milne Bay, Morobe and Simbu provinces.   Article courtesy of the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion

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PNG Business News - December 08, 2021

PM Launches Several Projects in West Sepik

During his official visit to West Sepik, James Marape inaugurated a number of impact initiatives. PM Marape described his visit as a watershed moment, not only for the official opening of the new West Sepik Provincial Administration Building but also for the announcement of other significant projects. “I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Governor of West Sepik, Hon. Tony Wowo, who did not wait for the National Government. Instead, he went ahead and used the funding given to the provincial government and the province’s internal revenue to build the new provincial assembly Building,” he said. “It is not easy to have a vision and to bring it to reality.” West Sepik, according to PM Marape, is one of the few provinces that owns and operates a modern building. He stated that the National Government will provide an extra K4 million for the building's other expenses. “As I am now standing at the new Provincial Assembly Building, I will take the opportunity to make some announcements of projects for West Sepik,” PM Marape said. “The new Vanimo Wharf that will be built here by a South Korean company will cost about US$200 million. This is the closest port for us to export to Asia.” He stated that after the Vanimo port was constructed, the provincial government would be entitled to a part of the port's earnings. Another project, according to the Prime Minister, is the road connecting Vanimo and Wewak. Under the Connect PNG initiative, the first stage of the K200 million construction has been allocated, and a contract is set to be issued. “This road will connect Vanimo to Wewak so you can go shopping in Wewak, and you can take a short amount of time to travel instead of a long time that it takes now,” he said. “The road from Telefomin to Tabubil is another K200 million project where a new road will be cut.” The Prime Minister said that K15 million had been set up in the 2022 Budget for the construction of a new modern hospital in Vanimo. He also stated that the government will provide the province K5 million to develop a Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) college for West Sepik's youth.   Reference: PM James Marape News Page (6 December 2021). “PM Marape launches several projects in West Sepik”

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PNG Business News - December 08, 2021

Marape launches 10-year National Health Plan

By the year 2030, Papua New Guineans could anticipate decent healthcare services "within an hour's reach" across the country, according to Prime Minister Hon. According to James Marape. As he summarized the National Health Plan 2021– 2030 before unveiling it in Port Moresby, the Prime Minister gave this command to the Department of Health, namely the Health Secretary and the heads of the Provincial Health Authorities (PHA). PM Marape did not mince words when he warned the PHA chiefs that this was "not an intellectual plan" and that they needed to "connect the connections," internalize the strategy and start implementing it. He said: “I summarise the plan into this – a quality health system and facilities must be within reach in an hour by walking, by boat, by vehicle, or by a plane for our people wherever they are in the country. “Health is our people’s fundamental right; it is our moral responsibility to provide good health care to our people.” In a similar spirit, the Prime Minister stated that by 2031, he does not want to see any more "medical tourists visiting Singapore, the Philippines, or elsewhere." He continued: “PHAs heads, I come to you because you stand beneficiary in the devolution of functions that already is being transferred to you. As you sit in on your PHAs, the Health Secretary does not know who is living one hour away or two hours away from the aid post or the health centre. It is you. “Health is our peoples’ fundamental right. That is why we have given you a greater allocation this year when Covid-19 exposed a total deficiency we have inherited in our health care system. “A country with only 200 ICU beds is totally shocking for us. A nation of 8 million people having 200 ICU beds right across the country is not something that we can be proud of.” While the Ministry of Health and National Planning and Monitoring worked on a more realistic, watertight, and comprehensive blueprint for PNG's hospitals, the Prime Minister told the PHAs to "keep away from the K15 million" allocation intended for provincial hospitals. These new programs are being developed with the help of a development partner for the country's 22 modern hospitals.  “So we must make strategic interventions synchronised with my view that all hospitals, health centres and community aid posts must be one hour within walking distance or by a mode of transport for our citizens for necessary reliable health care within their reach for any level of health needs,” the Prime Minister said. PM Marape added that, even if he didn't return as president next year, the focus on health would continue throughout the years with similar investments in every budget until 2030. The 7th National Health Plan since independence was launched exactly one week after the passage of the 2022 National Budget, which is expected to put Papua New Guinea on the road to debt recovery by 2027. With a prediction of a K200 million economy by 2030, the Prime Minister has given the 7th National Health Plan his direct design control in order to contribute value to the overall economic aim because, as he put it, "a healthy population implies a healthy economy." The National Budget for 2022 allocates K2.8 billion to health, accounting for 11% of total spending — the biggest allocation to PNG health since independence. The investment of K50 million to the cancer unit at the Port Moresby General Hospital – another first in the health sector budget – is one of the notable areas worth emphasizing. Aside from that, the Department of Personnel Management is now assisting the development of 5,000 new roles for extra health care employees. Later on, this would be included in the permanent construction. PM Marape also called attention to sectors within Health that needed immediate attention beginning next year, such as medical research and raising the level of the PNG medical board to "world-class" status.   Reference: PM James Marape News Page (7 November 2021). “PM Marape launches10-year National Health Plan”.

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PNG Business News - December 07, 2021

ADB Welcomes New Legislation to Improve SOEs in PNG

Photo credit: Share GK - Flickr The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has welcomed the publication of the Kumul Consolidated Holdings Authorisation (Amendment) Act 2021 in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) National Gazette, a key step in efforts to reform governance, increase transparency, and improve the performance of the country’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The act delivers several key reforms to aid the work of Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH), the holding company for PNG’s SOEs. These include providing a clear definition of ministerial, SOE board, and SOE management roles; revising KCH’s role to focus on SOE performance monitoring; improving SOE transparency requirements; and establishing a transparent, skills-based process for SOE director selection. “SOEs provide critical public services and utilities to the people of Papua New Guinea,” said ADB Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office Regional Director Lotte Schou-Zibell. “That’s why ADB is working with the Government of PNG on these reforms, which will strengthen SOE performance and governance—making them more profitable and transparent, more likely to enable private investment, and better suited to the needs of the community.” “These reforms will enable KCH to ensure PNG’s SOEs are sustainable, well-governed organizations that deliver reliable, affordable, and efficient services,” said KCH Chairman Moses Maladina. “This legislation will support KCH’s efforts to improve access to power and communication utilities, water, sanitation, banking and financial services, travel, and maritime services for PNG residents.” The Government of PNG’s broader SOE reform program is supported in part by an ADB policy-based loan. The act was developed with support from the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI)—an ADB technical assistance program in partnership with the governments of Australia and New Zealand. “The passage of this act demonstrates the Government of PNG’s commitment to transparency and improved governance and performance in its SOEs,” said Australian High Commissioner to PNG Jon Philp. "I congratulate the government for achieving this important step in its ambitious SOE reform agenda and, through our support for PSDI, Australia is proud to support improvements to the delivery of essential services. Much work is required to implement the act, and Australia looks forward to working with PSDI and the Government of PNG on this in the coming months and years.” Established in 2006, PSDI works with ADB's 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth. 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.   Article courtesy of the Asian Development Bank

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PNG Business News - December 06, 2021

Australia Will Continue To Engage With PNG: Minister

Senator Zed Seselja, Australia's minister for international development and the Pacific, said the Australian government will continue to engage with Papua New Guinea to reopen borders and normalize commerce and trade. Seselja addressed the 2021 PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference and Exhibition yesterday that the government has received about AU$340 million (about K854 million) in Coronavirus (Covid-19) support. He said that the Covid-19 had a huge impact on companies, and that Australia had cooperated with Air Niugini, the country's official carrier, to ensure that commercial flights to Australia were not disrupted. “We also recognise the importance of fly-in-fly-out workers in the mining and petroleum sectors,” he said. “So we have worked closely with businesses and state governments in Australia to support travel exemptions arrangements for these workers. “Likewise we have assisted the PNG Government in pre-departure flight tests at Jackson international airport in Port Moresby. “Since Nov 1, Australia has been gradually relaxing its border restrictions under a risk based approach to reopening.” Seselja said Australia’s support had also been buffering the economy through loans and grants to help mitigate the worst economic impacts of the pandemic. “We have been encouraged by progress on some major resource project negotiations this year. Namely the Papua LNG and Pnyang (gas agreements). “Getting these negotiations over the line will improve economic certainty and over the construction phase, stimulate urgently needed investment. “We know that business requires a predictable operating environment, certainty around mining, oil and gas legislations will encourage investment in PNG.” Seselja emphasized the importance of continued negotiations between industry and government on new tax and regulatory policies.   Reference: Luma, Dale. The National (2 December 2021). “Aust To Ensure Trade Continues”.

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PNG Business News - December 06, 2021

Mining And Petroleum Exploration Drop Worries Industry

The mining and petroleum industries' continued drop in exploratory activity is a source of concern for the industry. Exploration activity has been declining and falling since 2019, with no obvious signs of recovery, although the sector remains confident that this will soon reverse. In his opening remarks at the 2021 Mining and Petroleum Conference yesterday in Brisbane, Australia, PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum president Anthony Smare highlighted the industry's worry about the downturn in exploration activities. In the previous two years, he added, existing world-class projects in the country have had to contend with COVID-19-related risks or compete with high society expectations of increased benefit flows to the national government and local and regional communities. Despite the strong performance of these projects, he expressed concern about the ongoing collapse of the country's exploration activity. “There is considerable uncertainty at present because of ongoing concerns regarding the policy climate generally and the potential impacts of COVID-19 and climate change. Some assurance on the part of the government of a more stable regulatory and fiscal regime can hopefully lead to a renewal on investor’s interest in mining and petroleum activities,” he said. Mr Smare stated that there has been worry about the shifting policy climate in PNG, which has resulted in the closure of the nation's second largest gold producer, Porgera Mine, as well as the stalling of other key resource projects due to different policy concerns. He claimed the sector's export earnings declined by K6 billion last year after years of steady growth since the PNG LNG Project began exporting in 2014. “According to reports by Bank of PNG, the petroleum and mining exports last year fell from K32.5 billion in 2019 to K25.8billion as a result of a fall in LNG prices and the shutdown of Porgera Mine in April 2020,” Mr Smare said. He went on to say that the chamber has been holding webinars for the past year to discuss changing government policies, and that these webinars have complemented the ongoing resource sector activities that focus on areas like community affairs and safety, where PNG projects have been comparable in performance to aid development cooperation.   Reference: Kamus, Maxine. Post-Courier (2 December 2021). “Exploration Activities In Downward Trend”.

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PNG Business News - December 06, 2021

PM Marape invites mining, oil and gas investors to PNG

Papua New Guinea, according to James Marape, has never been an "uncertain area to invest." In Port Moresby, he said this while speaking digitally at the 2021 PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference & Exhibition in Brisbane. “We are an oil, gas and mining nation,” the Prime Minister said. “This is evident in the fact that quite a substantial part of our GDP has its anchor in the mining and oil and gas space. “Papua New Guinea is a traditional mining and oil and gas country.” PM Marape stated that regardless of which administration is in power, "our goal stays set and static" in terms of politics. “That is something that investors right across Planet Earth must know from the outset,” he said. “We are a robust democracy, our judiciary is totally independent from the executive government, our Parliament functions in every term. “We’re going into election in time and on schedule (in 2022) to elect our 11th Parliament next year. “We have successfully held 10 democratic elections since 1977.” PM Marape said in spite ongoing law-and-order problems, “our country has never failed to live on, never failed to honor legally-binding commitments”. “We’re picking up social and local issues around all projects that we sign agreements with,” he said. “We, as Government, have been important partners to all mining and oil and gas companies, who have lived and operated in our country.” PM Marape noted PNG has previously hosted big multinational corporations such as Placer Dome, BHP, and Chevron, as well as ExxonMobil, Total, Barrick, Santos, JS Nippon, Newcrest, and Harmony. “It is undisputed that Papua New Guinea prides itself as a welcome business address for world-class investors,” he said. “Politics can be played by Papua New Guineans from all strata of society, but Papua New Guinea lives on. “We play politics in the robustness of our democracy, but the goal posts for investment, are fixed because we play within a robust Constitution. “Our country believes in the rule of law, and what is legally signed will carry on, so I’d like to encourage everyone that Papua New Guinea is not a place to fear in as far as the investment dollar or kina is concerned. “We are open for business today, as we have been open for business over the last 46 years, and we will be open for business into the next 46 years and beyond.”   Reference: PM James Marape News Page (1 December 2021). “PM Marape invites mining, oil and gas investors to PNG”.

Business

PNG Business News - December 06, 2021

PM Says 2022 Budget Puts Emphasis On The Health Sector

According to James Marape, the 2022 Budget puts a greater emphasis on the health sector than ever before. He mentioned this during the opening of the K500 million, 300-bed Central Provincial Hospital for Central and Papua New Guineans in Bautama, Central. Roads, housing, power, and other infrastructure in the new Central City at Bautama, which is adjacent to the hospital, would cost up to K700 million, according to the Prime Minister. “This is a very-timely moment, especially on the back of us going into Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday November 30) to pass our 2022 Budget – a Budget that has greater focus on the health sector in our country,” PM Marape said. “Health is receiving over K2.6 billion of the K22 billion Budget, in fact, 11.2 per cent total allocation. “This is possibly the first time in the last 46 years we’ve been a nation, for Health Sector to receive the biggest allocation – ahead of Education and many other sectors in our country. “This is a case in point that we are serious about our people’s health issues. “Health comes first, we cannot compromise lives and livelihood of our people.” PM Marape stated that Central was prominently included in the 2022 Budget allocation to the Health Sector, and that this would continue into the following year. “The story will continue, the journey will continue, until, hopefully in 2025, we will be able to come here again on this ground when a brand-new 300-bed hospital is delivered not just for Central Province but for the country,” he said. One positive aspect of COVID-19, according to PM Marape, was that it revealed the Health Sector was "completely weak" in responding to the pandemic and other illnesses, with just 200 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds. “COVID-19 has pointed us to the fact that we do not have the health system and capacity to handle severe outbreaks of any disease,” he said. “In 2021, we made a conscious choice that investment in the health system will be ramped up, something that our generation of leaders can give to our country. “This is so that by 2025, when our Nation celebrates 50 years of Independence, we have a better reformed health care system in our country. “This is evident in 11. 2 per cent of the total 2022 Budget going to the Health Sector, and that will be ramped up as we go into 2023, 2024 and 2025. “Hopefully, we will have 22 world-class hospitals in our country delivered by then, or if not delivered, taking shape. “I want Central Provincial Hospital to be delivered by 2025.”   Reference: PM James Marape News Page (29 November 2021). “PM Marape: Government is focused on health in 2022 Budget”. 

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