Category Archives: Politics

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.

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’S ARREST WARRANT QUASHED

Press Release

15/12/2017

 

A three-man Supreme Court bench today unanimously found the warrant defective and the District Court’s decision to issue it as well.

The court found that lack of care was applied by the District Court in issuing the warrant.

There was no information put on the form to get a warrant. The date on which the information was laid was blank. Even the word ‘Independent’ was spelt wrong on the form.

The court further found that the wrong form was used in applying for the warrant.

To apply for the arrest warrant, form 1 had to be used, as per section 8 of the Arrest Act of 1977.

The court upheld the appeals filed by PM O’Neill and Police Commissioner Gari Baki, and set aside the warrant as void and of no legal effect.

This appeal arose from the decision of August 8, where the National Court ruled it cannot judicially review the manner in which the warrant was issued from the District Court on 12 June 2014.

The Supreme Court ruled that the decision by the District Court to issue the warrant was an administrative decision that was capable of being judicially reviewed.

PM: Best Budget in 16yrs

By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK (The National )

 

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the 2018 national budget, passed by Parliament last evening, is the best he has seen in the past 16 years, including when he served as the Treasurer.

He yesterday criticised the Opposition response to the K14.7 billion budget, calling on Shadow Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey to withdraw his “fake budget” remark.

“This is very disappointing as it will give a bad signal to our international investors. I’m calling on the Shadow Treasury Ian Ling- Stuckey to withdraw his statement,” he said.

“This is by far one of the best budgets that I have ever seen since I have been in this Parliament for 16 years now. That includes the budget that I have presented as well.”

O’Neill had served as a treasurer in the Sir Michael Somare-led government.

“I say this because this budget is now putting us on a course to make sure that this country’s economic base and growth will be such that it can be self-sustainable,” he said.

“So it is quite disappointing that some of the terminologies that he (Ling-Stuckey) used are unbecoming of leaders of this honourable house. We have to be careful of how we portray the image of our country, our parliament and ourselves.

“Sometimes for short political convenience and point-scoring we say things and do things that are not really in the best interest of our country. We have to be constructive.

“It’s always easy to have a blame-game going on in politics. But some of us want to move ahead and met the challenges ahead of us.”

Before it rose for the Christmas break, Parliament passed the Tax Administration Bill 2017 and the Public Money Management Bill 2017. Parliament will resume sitting on Feb 6 next year.

K14 Billion for 2018

By : Post Courier

This Government will mobilise necessary resources within the tight fiscal envelope to provide growth conditions to set the pace for future growth and development.

The 2018 Capital investment Budget consolidate key interventions that will encourage business activities, generate employment, increase both export and tax revenues, replace import, and broaden and diversify our economic base strengthening renewable sectors and manufacturing.

A total deficit figure of K1987.2 million has also been factored in, which will be financed through external sources comprising K1613.4 million and K375.8 million from domestic sources.

The financing requirement for 2018 will result in total government debt reaching K25,807.6 million by the end of 2018, equivalent to 32.2 percent of GDP.

There are no new surprises in the 2018 Budget as the government introduces taxation measures aimed at improving revenue collection through greater compliance, broadening the tax base more equitably and efficiently and making tax administration simpler and more effective.

Mr Abel, in handing the 2018 Budget in Parliament, themed “Review our priorities, refocus our energies and reinforce our strengths”, said the government will maintain key priority expenditures in education, health, infrastructure, law and order, agriculture, tourism and small and medium enterprises.

The government has restored the DSIP, PSIP and WSIP in 2018 with K10 million to each district totalling K880 million and provinces to receive K10 million each totalling K220 million and ward SIPs get K64.4 million.

It has also allocated K300 million for administrative and logistics preparation for the APEC meeting next year.

The budget for the first time has given a big boost with the introduction of an economic stimulus package that will cost K665.9 million to grow the economy through agriculture, tourism and SMEs.

Mr Abel said the government is committed to delivering the Alotau Accord 2, as started in the 100-Day Plan, and the 2018 Budget is the second component that should spur economic growth, generate jobs, and empower people through meaningful engagement in economic activities to better themselves.

“The government will continue to invest in key national infrastructure programs in 2018, particularly the Highlands Highway, coastal jetties, the missing link road program, hydro and gas power generation stations and the international submarine cable project,” he said.

He said these are important transformational projects that will reduce costs in doing business, improve market access for rural farmers, and improve and lower cost of communications for businesses and consumers.

“The 2018 Budget will shift focus to generating jobs and business opportunities for our people in agriculture, tourism and SMEs. And it will provide the platform to showcase the best of PNG to the world at the upcoming APEC Summit,” Mr Abel said.

Carving Restoration Daunting, says Pomat

BY FRANKLIN KOLMA ( Post Courier )

 

Pre-independence artifacts destroyed in 2013 by the previous speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenuoc, will now be replaced says the new speaker.

Speaker Job Pomat said on Wednesday when starting the restoration of the iconic carvings that the effort was long overdue which his predecessor was ordered on May 30, 2013 by Justice David Cannings to restore them within six months.

“This of course has not happened and that is why after finding out last week, parliament will now ensure the carvings are restored,” said the Speaker.

Mr Pomat said he would abide by the court order which dictates that parliament is responsible for the repair or replacement of the adornments.

The speaker’s office confirmed yesterday that most of the artifacts seized during the 2013 removal operation were irreversibly damaged and that the hard task now would be to ensure that replacement carvings or the repair of the former entities, are reinstated in such a way that is reflective of the ornaments’ former glory.

Back in 2013, former speaker Mr Zurenuoc shocked the nation when he ordered the carvings pulled down and destroyed as part of his campaign to restore, reform and modernise parliament.

During Mr Zurenuoc’s controversial purge, he said that the carvings had an occult link to the bad state of affairs of the country and that their removal was pivotal to positive change. The totem pole that stood in the main chamber of parliament and a 19 carved face lintel above the main door into parliament were removed pending destruction.

Objections from the public saw Prime Minister Peter O’Neill intervene to halt the destructive process, but not before the masks were destroyed and totem cut up into small blocks rendering them unusable.

As it is, Mr Pomat has hinted that it will be a substantially costly endeavor to either repair or replace the artifacts but that it is an exercise that parliament will carry out with haste.

It was reported yesterday that Parliament Counsel Richard Whitchurch said that the restoration project will not be easy because many of the master carvers who made the pieces have died.

Mr Whitchurch said that the search is now on for master carvers potentially from East Sepik or Milne Bay to take up the crucial task of restoring the culturally symbolic carvings.

Mr Pomat while assuring the public of his prominent stand to restore the artifacts, did not mention just how much of the taxpayers money would go into the parliamentary exercise adding that this was a question that parliament would consider and reveal at a later date.

On another note, the speaker said he is still examining Mr Zurenuoc’s plan to install what he called a “Pillar of Unity” in the Grand Hall which would arch over the chamber with the words ‘Word of God’ inscribed at its pinnacle.

Basil Joins Cabinet

By GYNNIE KERO ( The National )

 

PANGU Pati leader Sam Basil has joined Cabinet, and will be assigned a portfolio today by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in a minor Cabinet reshuffle.

Basil and two party colleagues were sworn in at Government House on Friday by Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae. They are Lufa MP Moriape Kavori, the new vice-minister for fisheries and Sumkar MP Chris Nangoi, the vice-minister for education.

In another development, Information Technology and Communication Minister Francis Meneke, the Talasea MP, has been decommissioned and is likely to be assigned the chairmanship of one of the parliamentary committees.

O’Neill said Basil brought with a him a wealth of experience to Cabinet.

“I welcome Minister Basil to Cabinet, and the appointment of two new vice-ministers, who I know will all make a valuable contribution to the development and implementation of Government policy,” he said.

“Pangu has joined to participate in the management of the affairs of the country and will serve our nation with diligence.” O’Neill said there would be a minor reshuffle of ministers today during which Basil would be assigned a ministerial portfolio.

“We will do a reshuffle of ministries,” he said.

“This is a natural part of ensuring we get the best outcomes for the departments and agencies for which we are responsible.”

Basil and 11 others from Pangu crossed the floor to the Government side last month “so that we can also be a player, to make sure that we implement policies of the PNC-led government”.

He told The National after the defection that he had tried hard but failed in past attempts to form the Government.

O’Neill, in a statement yesterday, thanked Basil and his party for supporting the Government’s policy agenda.

“We have a coalition of parties and members in Government who bring together a range of knowledge, with many years of Government and private sector experience. Following five years of implementation of the First Alotau Accord, all members of Government are working for the implementation of the Second Alotau Accord,” O’Neill said.

 

“Together, we will take education, healthcare, infrastructure, law and order and the devolution of authority to new levels in PNG.”

No comments could be obtained from Basil yesterday.

Meanwhile, a Government spokesperson yesterday confirmed the decommissioning of Maneke.

« Older Entries