Category Archives: Landowners

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.

Pm: Do Not Pre-Empt Manumanu Inquiry Outcome

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has called on all interested parties in the administrative inquiry into the Manumanu land deal to remain patient and not seek to pre-empt the outcomes of the inquiry.

“I have seen public comment in the media on the administrative inquiry into the Manumanu land deal,” Mr O’Neill said in a statement yesterday.

He said the final report had not been presented to the Government.

“When the final report has been presented to the Government it will be released to the public and prepared for tabling in the National Parliament.

“All interested parties need to remain patient and not seek to pre-empt the outcomes of the inquiry.

“This is a serious matter and the outcome will be finalised in an appropriate timeframe.

“Due process is essential and this must be respected,” Mr O’Neill said

The Prime Minister was responding to calls for him to release the findings of the administrative inquiry into the Manumanu land deal in Central Province.

Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) chairman Lawrence Stephens renewed his call for Mr O’Neill to table in Parliament the administrative inquiries findings.

Parliament Debates Missing Taxes

BY JEFFREY ELAPA

The country has been missing a lot in taxes and benefits from the logging operations in the country, the National Parliament was told this week.

Members of Parliament and governors whose provinces have existing logging activities raised concerns that the people have been missing a lot from the logging operations as companies continue to evade logging taxes and other rightful benefits to the people and government.

Oro Governor Garry Juffa said many of the companies are operating criminally and often avoid paying taxes.

He said as former boss of Customs he has evidence of some of those companies who continue to evade paying taxes while many others continue to abuse the landowners using state agencies like police.

“When we entered into the look north policy, the country invited alot of people some of whom are genuine logging companies while others are not genuine but operated by criminals. Some of them manipulate the public service and political landscape,” Mr Juffa said.

“As an independent nation, we must not allow criminal companies to enter and destroy our people and our resources.”

Mr Juffa said the practice of paying royalties is something of the past, it is a colonial and outdated rule and practice and that must stop and look at make good laws through the proposed review to monitor the conduct and practice of the logging companies.

He said the provincial forest board has colluded with officers from the National Forest Authority to issue licenses to many of these rogue companies.

He said another development is good there must be a balance so that there is maximum benefit for our people.
Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta said it is high time all the agreements and law needs to be reviewed.

He said the provincial governments and landowners from timber concessional areas to be included as impacted provinces have bad experiences from logging operations in the country.

He said half of Gulf Province is engaged in logging but the benefits are minimal while many of the companies are operating illegal although their logging permits have expired some 6 years ago.

Among other issues, Mr Haiveta said in his province the log development levies have either been used to fund election while the landowners have missed out on such benefits.
He proposed other option in the review, an one of them is to consider state market option, domestic market obligation as in mining companies to be introduced.

Mr Haiveta said other option to be considered in the review must be include mandatory equity participation and review vehicle registration exemption given to the logging companies by the Department of Transport.

Wereh Stresses On Transport

Source: PC Online

BY GORETHY KENNETH

WORKS Secretary David Wereh has warned all landowners and people vandalising state assets on the roads throughout the country that the Protection of Transport Infrastructure Act 2010 is in operation and very effective.

This is the act that saved K120 million of claims against the state on roads issues. Wereh warned that vandalism, blocking of roads and others along the Highlands Highway and other national highways will have severe penalties under this Act – some of which is up to a five-year jail term or K100,000 to K1 million fine.

Wereh said the first Kainantu case undertaken in court under this had saved K120 million in claims and that there were more cases pending.

The act deals with demands for compensation or other payment, extended responsibility for family and other persons, attempts and like offences and threat to commit an offence.

“Being an Act to provide for the protection of transport infrastructure and the land, water and air on or in which transport infrastructure is located and for related purposes, it has got severe penalties – block off public transport infrastructure assets etc,” Mr Wereh said.

“The law is already in operation. It’s the enforcement rate and the Kainantu case is the first case. We successfully obtained a restraining order using this law.”

Wereh said the government’s position is very clear on unreasonable compensation demands by opportunists living along the national highway corridors, that it would not entertain any compensation claims by people and business houses alongside major roads.

He said that his department was already acquiring and paying genuine customary land and property owners affected on all road projects sites around the country through the establish process. We will not entertain any self-valued and assessed claims.

“This is an illegal practice and will be dealt with by law,” he said. No individuals or tribe living along the highway should take their grievance to the national Highways. There is an established process to follow in pursuing grievance and claims affecting the greater public. “

He said the Transport Infrastructure assets around the country are now protected by the Transport Infrastructure protection Act 2010. All citizens living along these important infrastructure corridors are required by law not to conduct any of their self-serving activities.

Wereh said that the Kainantu court order was issued after landowners set up a roadblock at Bane which was illegal and police personnel had to clear the highway, which belonged to the public and not to any particular tribe or clan.

“We must be very considerate of many others who depend on the highways as a lifeline for service delivery and business for their daily living.

“The laws are very tough and will severely deal with anyone who want to stage illegal road blocks and vandalize road assets.”

“The message to the people is simple: Do not block public roads because they do not belong to you even if they run through your land. You are just creating problems for yourself.”

Swift Processing Time, Make Banks Compete

Source: PC Online

BY MATTHEW VARI

Chief executive officer of ANZ PNG, Mark Baker has told the Lands Department that it has the ability to create competition among banks in the housing market.

Mr Baker said this during a meeting between major banks and the Land Department in Port Moresby this week.

He said with effective processing times, prices come down on interest rates that aspiring home owners can benefit greatly from.

“If you can get this department to be the best government department, and we can rely on reliable transfer of land title then the banks then start competing with each other,” Mr Baker said.

“Right now because it is static and takes a long time, there is no pressure on us.”

“There are thousands of Papua New Guineans who want to own a home and you have this emerging middle class who want home ownership and they then demand reliable powers and utilities the things we all want.”

Mr Baker told the department it has the opportunity to showcase and drive change in the country, through its mandate.

MP Keen to Address Issue of Squatter Settlements

By : The National

 

Urbanisation and Housing Minister John Kaupa wants to address the issue of people squatting on State land in Moresby North-East and Port Moresby.
Kaupa over the weekend had talks with custodians of land at 7-Mile.
He has taken Urbanisation Office to task in negotiation for conversion of customary land into proper suburbs.
The planning, once in fruition, will see thousands of settlers given an opportunity to own a piece of land with a house.
Kaupa, with Urbanisation Office executive-director Max Kep and senior officers from the office, were at a site known as Faraya behind the PNG Defence Force Air Transport Squadron to meet Moiha clan leaders.
This is the second visit by Kaupa to an area which he sees as having the potential to bring in positive spin-off benefits for landowners.
Kaupa said other stakeholders like Department of Lands and Physical planning, National Capital District Commission, Eda Ranu, PNG Power Ltd and Governor Powes Parkop would be informed once formalities with landowners were established.
He said he had lived at 6-Mile Settlement for almost 25 years and knew problems of land and housing.
Kaupa said he also respected the Motu-Koitabu people as traditional landowners.
“The Moiha clan will get maximum benefit in terms of resettlement and development in their area,” he said.
“We will not repeat the mistakes of the Taurama customary land that saw land owners sell their land randomly, without proper consultation with Urbanisation and Lands Department, or service lines such as water and electricity.”

Over 200 Land Complaints Received

BY MATTHEW VARI ( Post Courier )

THE reopened fraud and complaints unit has so far received over 200 complaints from the public regarding lands issues and allegations of corruption levelled against Lands and Physical Planning Department officers.

Lands and Physical Planning Minister Justin Tkatchenko said last Friday that he will receive a full report this week on all the complaints received so far for further deliberation.

Mr Tkatchenko said some complaints that are verbal in nature still need additional information and investigation.

Since its reactivation over a month ago, he said all those wanting to lay their complaints should ensure proper documentations are provided to the unit independent units to attend effectively to their reports.

“We have received over 200-plus complaints against lands department staff, against lands deals, against corruption within the department and processes that have happened, where people have missed out legitimately on their land,” the minister said.

“Some of the complaints need more information, more investigations: they are more verbal than actual documented. This is what I said from day one: if people want to lay complaints with the Lands Department, not happy with the land deals that have come against them, or whatever the situation may be, they must provide all documentation and evidence to prove that they have been hard done by.”

The minister said an outside independent lawyer has been engaged along with state lawyers to ensure an independent body exists. He said the body and process excludes himself as the minister.

“Most of these complaints will go through the auditing system. We want to make it an independent process, so there will be no interferences at all from those complaints that have come into the department.”

“The complaints department was closed as you know, for whatever reason, for four years.”

“So now that we have opened it, I think a lot of people are not happy with that, but that is their problem.

“We are getting on with the job and making sure that we change the perception of the department from a corrupt department to a well-organised department that will ensure it gets on with its job for the benefit of land and our people in Papua New Guinea,” Mr Tkatchenko said.

 

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