Transcript of PM’s speech during opening of Kina Group Branch
Location: Vision City, Port Moresby
Date: 10th May 2017
PNG is a population that is in transition. We are in a first generation of people coming out of a very traditional society into a modern economy.
This brings about a lot of challenges to our people in trying to manage their finances and also keep up to the changing world, especially the digital age and with access to financial services provided.
Our people currently experiences dramatic change and transformation in society, therefore it is important that the private sector and governments continue to provide strong support to our communities including our people right across the country. Kina’s commitment to manage our peoples’ money and finances is an important step in the country’s direction.
This is a commitment that will help our people have better access to banking and finance services right throughout the country.
Kina Group is now making great gains in the financial sector and is PNG’s fourth largest bank that is listed both on the Port Moresby and Australian Stock Exchange.
Let me also on this occasion congratulate the bank for the trade agreement that was signed with the Asian Development Bank.
Again, it is going to boost Kina’s position in the financial sector and offcourse continue to support many of the businesses that are going to continue to provide support for small-medium businesses.
Now is the right time to expand services in this sector as we know that over the past few years we have experienced some challenging times in our economy, particularly the drop of commodity prices that has hurt many resource exporting countries around the world.
But PNG is weathering this storm quite well. We have been able to insulate our economy from many of these shocks, adjusting to adapt to these extreme economic issues. We have reduced non-priority expenditure on government, we have been able to readjust our budgets to meet the fall in revenues, and we have tried our best to expand the economic base in our country.
We cannot allow our country to continue to pull through the boom and bust economic cycles that are brought about by commodity and global conditions.
Our government has invested in sectors like agriculture, tourism, fisheries, poultry, manufacturing, small to medium enterprises however we need to do more together so that we can give our people more opportunities.
It is also encouraging to see the resource sector continuing to enable us to meet some of these challenges by now agreeing to value added opportunities in the industry allowing us to go downstream processing in the oil and gas industry and the mining industry. We appreciate the commitment that the resource producers are now making to our country. We are working very strongly to have value added in these sectors so we can provide employment opportunities, income-earning opportunities for our people. We have no doubt many challenges ahead of us in this sector but we are committed to delivering some of the world-class projects that are before us.
We have done so in the first LNG project, we have delivered it on time and on budget and at a very low cost structure, which is certainly the envy of the leaders. We are committed also to now enabling the second LNG project to commence very soon. That will be able to inject billions of dollars into the industry and into the economy that will create thousands of jobs for our people. The key is to attract such investments into our country needs political stability in politics to deliver on government policies and programs.
In Papua New Guinea, we are now getting recognized for being the most stable in our political history.
We are a country that is meeting its obligations, particularly our contractual obligations internationally where our policy agenda is very clear and transparent.
That is the type of stability that we need to give confidence to the business and the investment community so that they can continue to conduct their business in a conducive environment.
We know that there were challenges in recent times where we experienced a shortage in foreign currency for too long which forced some of the developers and of course in particular, the resource industry to keep excessive amounts of foreign currencies overseas.
This is detrimental to our economy. We need agreements that are going to be fair to our economy and fair to our country and we need to have some balance in the process.
We are now engaging in discussions with these investors to enable the retention of much of the foreign currency in Papua New Guinea so that we can be able to meet our immediate obligations going forward.
We must always have a fair and transparent playing field. And we understand the investors’ obligations in terms of dividend payments and of course loan repayments to their lenders, that is something that we can work through so we maintain a balanced economy so we do not continue to suffer.
Our economic fundamentals are very stable. We remain strong. Our inflation is well under control. Our economy continues to grow despite global challenges. Our Debt to GDP remains well below 35 percent of GDP given that not only fifteen years ago, our Debt to GDP ratios was well over 70 percent meaning; we have come a long way.
I think it is important that we continue to maintain partnerships in the economy and offcourse our business community so that they can continue to work with us.
In terms of government’s own investments, I think that many of our business leaders and business community continue to know that we are a long term visionary government that is investing in the infrastructure that has been run down for many, many years, and over the past five years we have invested in new airports, new seaports, new jetties and offcourse rebuilding many of the roads all around our cities and major highways throughout the country.
In the next term of government, we intend to complete many of these works that we have commenced, particularly around the national highways throughout the country that is going to enable more business opportunities for our citizens and offcourse deliver basic services to our remote communities in the country.
Our investment in education, especially our free education policy has enabled millions of young Papua New Guineans to be educated. This ensures that they attain a skill that is going to give them opportunities in their lives. That is also going to produce a lot of skilled Papua New Guineans who will meaningfully contribute productively to the economy and to many of the businesses that are now investing in our country.
I know also that our health care policies are also going to deliver a very healthy population to a very fast growing middle class that is certainly going to continue to contribute to the growth of our economy.
Finally, the changes that are taking place in Papua New Guinea, is certainly not just by our global partners, global communities, members of the APEC community. When I asked the APEC leaders to support our desire to host the APEC meeting in 2018, it was agreed by all member countries because of the confidence they have in the new Papua New Guinea. Next year, thousands of delegates will come to Papua New Guinea in November, of course with them, there will be leading business men and women from these member countries who will certainly be looking to Papua New Guinea with a renewed interest.
Yesterday I announced the locations of many of these site meetings that are going to take place all around the country, again exposing our country to many of the visitors who are certainly going to be in Papua New Guinea for the first time.
Kina Group will continue to become one of our strong partners during the APEC meetings, particularly around the CEO Summit that is going to take place here in Port Moresby.
Hosting APEC is another indication that change is taking place in Papua New Guinea. Confidence is there for Papua New Guinea and we are all part of that change.
The opening of this branch here at Vision City is again an ongoing expansion program for the Kina Group, which is a true part of the change that is happening in our country.
I was just saying to the former Prime Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, that it was not long ago our villages throughout the country in the 1970s, when we used to open passbook accounts to open bank accounts in many of the branches throughout the country.
This is now a thing of the past, as we go through the digital world of banking where I am encouraged by the support the Kina Group is expanding through these services in the country.