Monthly Archives: December 2017

Post PNG Releases Stamp

By : Post Courier

 

Post PNG’s Philatelic Bureau yesterday launched two significant stamp issues to celebrate Christmas and commemorate 500 years of Lutheran reformation celebration in PNG.
Post PNG philatelic manager Banian Masiboda said this is a double and timely celebration that relates meaningfully to the festive season by conveying the birth of Jesus and celebrating the Christian faith.
Issued in stamp sets and souvenir sheetlet and souvenir sheets, the annual Christmas and the 500 reformation commemorative stamps are definitive stamps now available for collectors and customer use.
The 2017 Christmas greetings stamps feature selected greetings from each local dialect of PNG and also define how the country celebrated the festive season with pictures of church buildings, families standing together and other Christmas themes.
“The subjects featured on our postage stamps are of great significance to Papua New Guinea, the region and the world. In a nut shell postage stamps play a major role as a vessel, conveying important messages to all the four corners of the world,” Mr Masiboda said.
“This is the right time for the stamp issues to be released so hopefully our people around the country will be blessed by this release”, he said.
Special projects and strategy manager Kenei Gumaru says the commemorative stamps which began selling yesterday on line via Post PNG Website has created a lot of interest and demand in Europe, German, Australia, UK, US and PNG.
The Reformation 500 years stamp is themed, “Liberated by God’s Grace” and has been described by chairman of Lutheran 500 years Reformation committee, Kingston Alu as a, “great and special moment” for the church.
“This will show other Lutheran communities around the world that we have also taken part in celebrating the 500 reformation anniversary”.
Mr Gumaru said at the end of the year Post PNG also produces an annual stamp album containing around 10-12 stamps issued with all the stamp background and may be good souvenir or a gift pack to give a loved one during this festive season.

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Celebration of Faith for Papua New Guinea

By : Post Courier

 

Churches are the cornerstone of PNG communities, says Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
“We will continue to strengthen our partnership,” Mr O’Neill said in his Christmas message.
Christmas is the time of the year when Papua New Guineans come together as a nation, he said.
“In our communities, our Churches and in our family homes, we celebrate the birth of our Saviour.
“This birth in a manger in Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago, was the start of a new era for humankind.
“Through our Christian faith we celebrate goodwill, and we share a belief in doing the right thing.”
Monday, December 25, and Tuesday, Boxing Day, are public holidays.
In his first Christmas message since formation of Government since the 2017 national election, Mr O’Neill said that the churches and Government are working together.
“We are delivering better education for our children, we are providing better healthcare services to help our people to recover from sickness and injury.
“Christmas is also a time to reflect on our own lives, on our families and our friends.
“It is a time for us all to look at the contribution that we make to the people around us.”
Mr O’Neill said Papua New Guineans live in an “amazing country”. PNG had more potential than almost anywhere else in the world, he added. “We are blessed with diverse cultures, and we are rich in resources.
“But to reach our best, we have to believe in ourselves, and we have to believe in all that we can achieve.
“As we celebrate this festive season, I ask you to please also spare a thought for people who might be spending Christmas alone.
“Invite them into your home to share the spirit with you.
“May you, and your family, have a joyous and safe Christmas. There are often a lot of accidents in the Christmas period, so we ask everyone to be careful. Look after each other, and set an example for those around you.
“From my family, and from our Government, may we wish a Merry Christmas to everyone in PNG.”

Expiry Date for Registered SIM Cards

By : Post Courier

Like a driving licence or a motor vehicle, there is an expiry date set under legislation for their validity.

Can NICTA as regulator do the same with phone SIM cards under the current registration exercise, or eventually is that its intention.

Of course the underlying intention is undisputable considering security of persons and verification of users and all the other too important reasons.

The matter arises because the rush has begun in the countdown for the registration of SIM cards for mobile phone users in PNG.

And this has to be done within the last 10 days of this year because come midnight December 31, 2017 connection to all unregistered phones will be automatically cut off.

This applies right across the board whether or not you are an urban or rural dweller with a cell phone using the Digicel, Bmobile or other networks.

So far there has not been any indication from NICTA of any possible extension of time for the registration exercise.

In Digicel’s efforts to meet the deadline, they have now engaged students to carry out the registration of almost one million subscribers that have not yet been accounted.

They claim to have already registered up to 700,000 network users.

For the networks, there has to be up to date correlation with NICTA which issues the SIM cards and quick, efficient and accurate entry of registration details to avoid penalising customers that have already filled out the required documentation to confirm with the instruction.

This is because NICTA keeps sending prompts to subscribers that have already registered their mobile phones with Digicel.

This indicates a lack of correlation and discrepancy between the mobile networks and NICTA’s registration data base.

Customers that have already registered cannot be penalised through no fault of theirs.

The significant point that must be made clear now by NICTA is when the registrations of mobile phones expire.

There is no clear information about this critical factor because mobile phone users are entitled to know at the earliest what is in store for them on the long term.

The question arises considering that registration of SIM cards could be converted, intended or aligned as a major revenue raising protocol in the immediate future for the regulator.

A single registration definitely is not intended for a lifetime.

O’Neill boosted

By TREVOR WAHUNE  ( The National )

 

ONE more to the fold and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is happy the 40th MP to be in his People’s National Congress Party has been pursuing similar policies.

Kerowagi MP Bari Palma, formerly of the PNG Party and currently the vice-minister for mining, formerly joined the PNC yesterday.

O’Neill said he appreciated Palma’s insights into what the ruling party was capable of in terms of providing services at district and provincial levels. “This brings the total number of PNC party members to 40,” he said.

“I congratulate Palma on his recent win in the court of disputed returns. This has proven he is the choice of the people of Kerowagi.

“We welcome him to the party. Palma is a newly-elected member and has been working with us over the last three months.

“All our party executives are now aware of our new member, and we look forward to working with him and the people of Kerowagi (in Chimbu) in the next five years.

“More importantly, key commitments that Palma mentioned during the elections were similar to PNC’s party policies. So we look forward to working closely with him.” Palma said he had consulted his electorate about moving to the ruling party which they agreed to.

“I need to work with a leader that has been vibrant since the last term. We want to work together to continue the stability and good governance of this government,” Palma said.

Sim Registration Nears Deadline

BY ROBINSON LEKA  ( Post Courier )

With almost under a week to go, the pressure to register sim cards before the December 31, continues to build as both mobile service providers and their customers find themselves in a long and rigorous registration process.

Digicel for the past three weeks has set mobile registration booths for their customers throughout Port Moresby to register their phone numbers.

The Waterfront Foodworld at Konedobu has been busy for the past three days with customers flooding in to register their sim cards.

Registration on Tuesday was put on hold as the network faced connection issues in uploading registered customer’s information, forcing Digicel officers on ground to call off registrations for the day.

One major challenge for Digicel this month is the upkeep of its network systems to facilitate a huge amount of subscribers registering their sim cards.

Digicel PNG is currently the largest mobile network operator in Papua New Guinea, with roughly 4 million subscribers, of which, only about 1.5 million have registered so far.

Dianne Auko, an officer with the Digicel sim registration team, described the situation as hectic as she and her team continue to register more customers.

“Even though the customers are harsh, we have to be patient and explain the process to them so that we can help them register their sims before the end of the month,” Auko said.

Contempt Matters Against Five Leaders Remain Before Court

The National

Contempt matters against five MPs in the Opposition remain before the court while proceedings are expected to continue next year, a lawyer says.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s lawyer Tiffany Twivey said that contempt matters before the court against the five Members of Parliament would proceed even after the Supreme Court upheld O’Neill’s appeal and dismissed the warrant of arrest against him.

“While the substantive matter on the arrest warrant is over, the contempt matters against five Opposition MPs still remain,” she said.

“They were contempt matters concerning comments made in a press conference and subsequent publications concerning the prime minister’s case against the arrest warrant, they will be continuing next year.”

The five MPs who had contempt applications filed against them are Sir Mekere Morauta, Kerenga Kua, Patrick Pruaitch, Belden Namah and Bryan Kramer, all members of the Opposition.

Contempt application filed against Kramer was in relation to his article that was posted online discussing O’Neill’s appeal which obtained a stay order on the warrant of arrest against him. The contempt applications filed against Namah, Kua, Pruaitch and Sir Mekere are related to statements that were televised and published in the mainstream media on August 10 and 14 regarding the warrant of arrest against O’Neill.

It was alleged that the five MPs’ statements caused damage to proceedings before the court in relation to the warrant of arrest and they intended to deter the prime minister availing himself of his constitutional rights to have the matter determined by a court of law.

Meanwhile, the warrant of arrest against O’Neill was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Friday after the court found and held that the arrest warrant was invalid and that it was not properly issued.

The Govt’s 100 Day Plan Expires Tomorrow

BY GORETHY KENNETH  : Post Courier

 

The Government’s 100 days 25 Point Plan expires tomorrow (Tuesday) with most of the proposed projects proactively undertaken, Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel have said.

And in light of prevailing circumstances the 100 days 25 Point Plan was and is intended to demonstrate proactively and inspire confidence and kick-start the Alotau Accord II by undertaking specific activities around.

“Not so long ago I stood here and delivered the 2017 Supplementary Budget that was Point 1 in the 25 Point 100 Day Plan to kick-start the Alotau Accord ll of this coalition government.

“The 2018 Budget our first substantive annual budget, is Point 2 of the 100 Day Plan, and will be another illustration of our intention to deliver on our promise to maintain fiscal discipline, grow our revenues, strengthen our economic base, improve governance and act strategically,” Mr Abel said.

“Our Government has taken stock following the national elections through a consultative process of engagement with stakeholders from Government, the private sector, development partners and community-based organisations.

“This has been important in helping guide our interventions, and in the spirit of partnership we will continue this open engagement.”

“These activities obviously roll into Points 1 and 2 of the 25 Point Plan which are the 2017 Supplementary and 2018 Budgets.

“The intention in Points 1 and 2 was to maintain fiscal discipline in the light of the prevailing difficult circumstances in terms of our budget parameters of a 2.5% fiscal deficit and debt to GDP of 30% so as not to put more stress on government financing and the economy.

“A number of measures were undertaken to maintain this discipline but primarily as per Point 4, and thanks to the understanding of Honourable Members of this Parliament, the Service Improvement Program was reduced in 2017,” he said.

Here’s how the 25-Point Plan was carried out and is being implemented now:

Point 3 was related to payroll strengthening and the OSPEAC (Organisation Staffing and Personnel Emoluments Committee) has been reactivated and is progressing a payroll audit and cleansing exercise and the MD registration requirement as explained by the Minister for Public Service in Parliament. This is in response to the primary cost escalation factor of Government which is the unsustainable growth in personnel emoluments.

Point 5 was for:

  1. i) The drawdown of the balance of the Credit Suisse loan of which two technical requirements will have been met following this budget session enabling the final balance to be drawn.
  2. ii) To access World Bank and ADB budget support funding for the 2018 budget. This has been achieved following my trip to Washington where the World Bank provides US$100m for debt restructuring in 2018 and another $100m in both 2019 and 2020. The A08 is also providing budget support commencing in 2018 for the health sector of up to US$300m commencing in 2018. These measures provide financial resources on good terms and bring in foreign exchange.

Point 6 was for:

  1. i) Oil Search to provide a minimum of 50% of the crude oil needs to the Napanapa Refinery and in Kina terms. This has been achieved through an agreement and is happening.
  2. ii) Transition to gas-powered electricity the Pom Gas 58MW electricity project has been approved by Cabinet and has commenced construction to provide the cheapest in country power source using our own gas and all sales denominated in Kina. The new power plant will be owned by Oil Search and Kumul Petroleum with shares to be taken up by MRDC. The availability of domestic gas can catalyse other gas-powered initiatives.

iii) Rice production the rice quota scheme has been delayed and 3 large scale rice projects are being developed with 3 separate private sector partners with potential support in the 2018 budget through the Agriculture Commercialization Fund.

  1. iv) The Bank of Papua New Guinea intervention into the forex market with US$100m is done. The BPNG is also conducting a review of all foreign currency accounts and the obligations of those account holders, particularly resource companies to remit excess funds back to PNG.

Point 7 for non-tax revenue collecting agencies to remit 90% of their revenues to CRF has commenced with some immediate action with specific agencies and will be reinforced by the Public Money Management Regularization Bill 2017 approved by Cabinet and to be tabled in conjunction with this Budget.

Points 8 and 10 relate to tax regime reform and this is being managed through the new Medium Term Revenue Strategy, developed in conjunction with the IMF and a new Tax Administration Bill which I will bring shortly. Measures will commence in this budget to tidy up the tax code and the BPNG, lRC, IPA and commercial banks are cooperating to enforce compulsory Tax Identification Number requirement for opening bank accounts. The commercial banks have agreed to provide information to the lRC regarding bank accounts being operated in a business manner for further scrutiny.

Significant funding support is provided in the 2018 budget for both the IRC and Customs to boost capacity against quantified additional revenue collection.

Point 9 was the establishment of the task forces for the IRC, Lands and the Customs and Illicit Trade. Funding has been provided in the Supplementary Budget and the Attorney General, Labour and immigration Ministers are leading the Customs and illicit Trade, Lands Minister the Lands task force and Treasurer the IRC task force.

Point 11 is for the progress of some significant resource development projects and; Wapi Golpu, PNG LNG expansion, Papua LNG is all on track for early works, pre FEED or FEED in 2018. Western LNG has announced pre FEED works last month.

Point 12 is for the launch of the new Australian DFAT grant-funded projects; the PNG Australia Economic and Social infrastructure Program and ANGAU Hospital re-development design are still pending, and the TB Project co-funded with the World Bank has had the financing documents executed already.

Point 13 is the power projects;

  1. i) the 58 MW Pom Gas project construction has begun. ii) the 30MW PNG Biomass Project in Markham with Oil Search is in progress.

iii) the Ramu 2 180MW Project has had commercial close via a Cabinet decision but

is pending financial close due to certain conditions precedent. iv) Naoro Brown River Hydro Project is progressing with funding from the World Bank.

  1. v) Hela Gas power solution is being negotiated with Exxon Mobil and Oil Search.  In the meantime, funding is provided in this budget to pull the power “”9 from Mendi to Hides to provide the missing power and NBN telecommunications link to access power to the communities from the Ramu Grid and surplus from the Tari existing generator.

Point 14 is certain high impact projects:

  1. i) the international submarine cable that the Australian Government has now offered to fund from Sydney to Port Moresby and Port Moresby to Honiara. PNG will own these 100% and 50% respectively and will substantially increase reliability and lower the cost of data into PNG some 25 times.  In the Pacific Marine, Industrial Project has had a new financing agreement sign with the China EXIM Bank, the Sepik Plains agriculture project, together with Baiyer Valley and the Centre.

Plains are identified for large-scale rice production as described earlier.

Point 15 is the commencement of the US$1 billion upgrade of the Highlands Highway of which the Project Management Unit has been established at Works and contracts have been advertised for supervisory contractors. Work will commence in 2018.

Point 16 is the Gerehu 38 Affordable Housing Pilot Project where 1,762 allotments are being made available free to qualifying citizens. The earthworks have been completed and power and water services are now being constructed. Together with the concessional funding at BSP this will make housing accessible to ordinary Papua New Guineans and drive construction and employment. It can provide an example to duplicate in other centres.

Point 17 is for the commencement of the new Enga Provincial Hospital construction and Mount Hagen Hospital PPP redevelopment plan in 2018.

Point 18 is for the ceasing of closed tender financing which Cabinet has approved and the bringing forward the National Procurement Authority Bill which is ready to come back to Cabinet after changes were requested by Cabinet.

Point 19 requires audited accounts for SOEs and Statutory Authorities by mid-2018.

As Treasurer I will be tabling all the reports for the Agencies under my responsibility as soon as they are cleared by Cabinet.

Point 20 is to have all prescribed Boards appointed. This is underway particularly under the State Enterprises Minister and the Agriculture Minister.

Point 21 refers to freeing up resource landowner benefits; 1) the PNG LNG landowners vetting issues are ongoing but royalty payments to the plant site landowners have commenced and it is anticipated to shortly resolve the pipeline first payments and progress to the conclusion the clan vetting at the gas fields.

  1. ii) the OK Tedi landowner CMCA and Non-CMCA have funds held in Trust that has been cleared by the Courts and I am waiting for advice from the Justice

Department to authorise some of the pending contracted works against those funds.

Point 22 proposed to suspend proposed amendments to the Lands Act, the lPA Act, the Agriculture Investment Act, the Agriculture Administration Adjustment Act and the Mineral Resources Authority and the Mining Act to allow further consultation. This has been done.

Point 23 refers to the National Energy Authority Bill. This should refer to the Petroleum Authority Bill which is being finalised for Parliament.

Point 24 refers to progressing the Population Policy and funding has been provided in the 2018 budget under the Sustainable Development Program at Planning for this.

Point 25 refers to Medium Term Development Plan3 to be published in 2018. This is the 5-year development plan and indicator targets for the government of the day which will incorporate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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