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PNG to Expand Development Ties with EU

By : Post Courier

 

Papua New Guinea and the European Union will expand co-operation in the implementation of development projects, the deepening of business and engagement on global environmental issues.

The commitment to further strengthen relations was made during a courtesy call to the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill CMG MP, by the European Union Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Ioannis Giogkarakis-Argyropoulos.

The Ambassador, who is now beginning his third year in Papua New Guinea, also delivered a letter from European Council President, H.E. Donald Tusk, and European Commission President, H.E. Jean-Claude Junker, encouraging a deepening of co-operation.

“The European Union is a very important development partner for Papua New Guinea and we value this relationship,” the Prime Minister said following the meeting in Port Moresby Moresby.

“This is an engagement for which we now commemorate 40 years through the Lomé Convention with Europe.

“Development co-operation has strengthened a number of areas in Papua New Guinea, including enhancing environmental management, strengthening public financial practices and promoting of renewable energy.”

The Prime Minister said the EU is also very encouraging of European trade missions visiting Papua New Guinea to promote increased commerce and investment.

“We will have a trade Mission from Sweden coming to Papua New Guinea soon, and more to follow in the coming year.

“Increased people-to-people contact, particularly with high level business people, highlights the investment potential of Papua New Guinea.

“There are many Europeans who are only now beginning to find out about our country, and consuming our fish and other exports.

“We will continue to grow the European market for Papua New Guinea products.”

Mr O’Neill said leaders and officials from Papua New Guinea will also continue to work with their European counterparts on global environmental issues, that includes climate change and the sustainable management of oceans resources.

“Europe has a clear interest in protecting and enhancing the natural environment, and we will ensure that we work together in international forums to promote sustainability.”

 

State Adjusting to Economic Situation, says Fleming

The National

By MARK HAIHUIE

THE government’s sale of its shares in Oil Search shows that it is willing to adjust to the current economic situation, Bank South Pacific chief executive Robin Fleming says.

Fleming told The National that businesses would be anticipating similar undertakings by the government in the 2017 Supplementary Budget.

“The supplementary budget is important for business as it will be the first significant outcome of the government’s 100-day plan and an excellent signal to the business community of the specifics associated with the implementation of the plan,” Fleming said.

“Kumul Petroleum Holdings recently announced the sale of its Oil Search shares with the consequent exit of the UBS and JP Morgan-structured debt facilities.

“It indicates the government’s preparedness to make decisions that recognise current economic conditions.”
Fleming said the government could eliminate or defer commitments not critical to its long-term development plans.
“This is not to say that some of those longer-term developments are not important,” he said.

“But in the short-term, the focus should be on meeting any residual payment obligations from operational or development expenditure, where services have been provided or procurement completed.

“Payment and settlement of any such debt will provide cash flow for many businesses in PNG.”

Pacific Tuna Forum – O’Neill speech

 

At the 6th Pacific Tuna Forum

 

Under the theme:

“Fostering Greater Social, Economic and Financial Benefits – Through Sustainable Management and Development of Tuna Resources”

 

13 September 2017

 

Good Morning,

 

It is a pleasure for Papua New Guinea to host this very prestigious 6th Pacific Tuna Forum.

 

Tuna is indeed the natural resource that binds the peoples and Governments of the Pacific Islands together.

 

Tuna is also the major revenue earner for many of our Governments in the Pacific, and for some, it is their single source of revenue.

 

The importance placed on this resource cannot be overstated.

 

Even back in the 1970s, one of the main policy agendas of many Governments was co-operation together to manage their tuna resources.

 

This bi-annual Pacific Tuna Forum is an initiative of the Papua New Guinea Government, through the National Fisheries Authority, when it was first held here in 2007.

 

Today, it is held in Partnership with INFO-FISH, and our Regional Fisheries Management Organizations.

 

This 3rd forum to be hosted in Papua New Guinea, and also includes the inaugural fishery technology expo that was held yesterday.

 

This forum is a premier tuna industry meeting in the Pacific region.

 

I welcome all policy makers, fishery managers, NGOs and industry leaders from around the world, who are with us here today.

 

The theme of this Forum, focusing on “Greater Social, Economic and Financial Benefits Through Sustainable Management” is very timely.

 

This theme also resonates quote well with the theme of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum in Apia last week, that very much focused on sustainable development, management and conservation of the Blue Pacific.

 

At the Leaders’ meetings in Apia, we urged the establishment and mainstreaming of regional Minimum Terms and Conditions in all areas of investment and development.

 

This includes a focus on the environment, and compliance across all marine sectors, particularly fisheries.

 

We are placing our support behind a number of initiatives and export standards.

 

This includes Competent Authorities and Catch Documentation Schemes in our region’s small Island economies.

 

As a region we have access to over 50 percent of world tuna supplies.

 

However, the major markets for tuna are not within our region.

 

Papua New Guinea, through the National Fisheries Authority, recognised the importance of expanding our markets.

 

We have established a Trade Lobby Committee which is comprised of both Government and industry representatives.

 

The aim of this committee is to explore and develop new markets.

 

We must be proactive, and go out and look for markets for our fisheries products if we are to have a viable industry into the future.

 

But Pacific Island Nations need to maintain focus on what we must do to ensure we have a viable fisheries sector for our children and their futures.

 

We are building upon the 2016 Forum Communique calling for all high seas bunkering of purse seiners – to be forced into our zones and under license.

 

As part of this, we must broaden this to include long line transhipping and bunkering operations.

 

We have to work together to further prevent illegal activities.

 

Building upon the success of PNA nations in managing the purse seine fishery, we further urge Small Island Nations to use their strength in number, for greater leverage on their interests and to safeguard the interests of our countries.

 

As Pacific Island States we need to steer our destiny in zone and in self-determination, and ensure benefits go to the people and economies.

 

We must do this rather than struggle with external dictates by those believing they have paternalistic rights to our fish and our waters.

 

Overall we need to strengthen Pacific solidarity in ensuring collective efforts for joint initiatives for improved ownership, participation and returns from the Blue Pacific.

 

This needs to be through specific initiatives in the sectors such as fishing, processing, transport, trade, and food security.

 

We can build upon the successes of our regional brand for niche products, and ensure that we have the right standards.

 

I urge that we ensure that our operators are provided with more opportunities and supported by the government in the sector.

 

This can be support through the development of partner funded initiatives, so we are not just seeing 100% foreign ventures promoted in these sectors throughout the region.

 

We need genuine joint ventures.

 

We also encourage PPP initiatives, especially in port services, processing and cold store infrastructure development.

 

In my view there is has great potential for our economies, particularly in port waste management for the sector, and this has the added benefit of helping to preserve the natural environment.

 

We need to develop more downstream processing and provide more spin-off business opportunities for our people.

 

All too often we see the tuna sector that is alienating itself from pour people, and particularly our SMEs.

 

We must create more opportunities so that is industry can continue to provide, more support for labour mobility, and making sure that there are more income-earning opportunities for our coastal communities throughout the Pacific Island Nations.

 

These untapped resources, and the opportunities that are available, must be accessed at sea and onshore.

 

Our Government today, is taking a stand against those non-preforming ventures.

 

We are now going to review over the next three months.

 

We are going to review many of these ventures, and the agreements that we have, because as I said at the Pacific Islands’ Forum last week.

 

For far too long in our region, we see ventures that continue to never make profits, Maurice Brown-John said in Apia last week, they never want to leave either.

 

That is why, enough-is-enough.

 

It is time to stop playing these kind of games.

 

It is important that benefits are shared equally, and fairly, so that our people benefit from the resources that they truly own.

 

Our Government is continuing to undertake the responsibility to continue to build good public infrastructure, and provide more training, and tax incentives that will continue to strengthen the industry as we have done in the past.

 

Papua New Guinea has subsidised this industry over the past decade, almost to the tune of almost 1 billion US Dollars.

 

This is by way of concessional fishing rights, in addition to many other generous concessions to the fishing industry.

 

But the reality this hardly adds to the production output that we have sought to achieve.

 

So we can ask where are the results from the investment that the country has been making?

 

We only see market share eroding, for example countries are having access to the markets that are usually reserved for countries like Papua New Guinea, where the tuna originates.

 

So in countries like Germany, they are achieving market share of close to 40 per cent, from exports that come from Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region.

 

This is unacceptable to countries like ours, because it erodes the market share for our people and our country.

 

That is why it is important that we go back and review some of the agreements, where we are not seeing processing plants that are not even running up to 75 per cent capacity that is required to hold a license in the industry.

 

We have a scenario where only 1 in 5 fish, that our Government has subsidised, is actually processed in Papua New Guinea.

 

Only 1 in 3, or even 1 in 4 jobs to process the catch are in Papua New Guinea.

 

In reality it means that almost 80% of the benefits from Papua New Guinea, are actually enjoyed by other countries.

 

That is why PNG flagged vessels, that fish our waters today, who enjoy the discounts, and yet have not landed a single fish to our processors in 2 years will be held to account.

 

This is simply not acceptable.

 

Our Government will implement changes.

 

They will make the review, and by 2018 I expect that this scenario will change.

 

We will increase rewards and support to direct to those who are genuine in the industry, who are genuine in wanting to process the fish in Papua New Guinea.

 

Let me state again, we welcome genuine investors, but those who are only here for cheap fishing are welcome to leave.

 

Our Government is committed to building the necessary support infrastructure.

 

We will create facilities so that fishing men and women, and processors are able to bring fish into ports in a timely manner, can process them at a reasonable cost.

 

We are exploring funding options for the Wagang Port, a dedicated fisheries port in Lae.

 

We want this critical infrastructure to commence construction soon.

 

As many of you will know the Government of Papua New Guinea proposed the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang as a regional tuna processing hub.

 

We will continue to pursue this project.

 

There is no easy way and there are no shortcuts in building a truly robust and competitive fisheries industry together.

 

We need to build competitiveness by increasing productivity and reducing costs of production.

 

During this term of Government, the policies and the achievements of the PNG fisheries sector will be measured against the regional benchmark.

 

This will be as outlined in the regional roadmap for sustainable fisheries.

 

We will continue to pursue onshore investment so that we can support these policies, and work with processors towards meeting their processing capacities.

 

Our Government is committed to making this happen, and will work with all stakeholders, especially our locally based fishing and processing industries.

 

We have the greatest potential in our tuna industry.

 

And together we will build a fairer, sustainable and more profitable tuna sector.

 

I wish you all a successful, informative and productive forum and an enjoyable stay in Papua New Guinea.

 

I now declare open – the 06th Pacific Tuna Forum 2017.

 

Thank you.

Prime Minister – Peter O’Neill

Customs Enforces Ban on Betelnut, Alcohol, Drugs

The National

The PNG Customs board has imposed zero tolerance on alcohol, betel nut and drugs in the workplace.

Chief Commissioner Ray Paul announced the board’s decision last Friday during the visit by Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Able to the Customs offices.

Paul said as of today a memo would be issued and a month later all employees would sign the zero tolerance policy.
“If anyone is caught, they will be terminated. We were now living up to the general orders and we are putting our feet down on this to make sure that everyone complies.

“It will be challenging but I want all to see it as a positive step in the right direction to think as one and to get things delivered.”

Paul said since moving out of the Internal Revenue Commission in 2013 they have maintained a strong stand to be independent.

He said there were about 300 workers around the country with about 100 based in Port Moresby.

Paul said their strategic plan for the past five years would lapse at the end of this year and they were now working on the new plan.

“We will invite the minister to launch the strategic plan and kick start it next year. It will go in line with the 100-day plan and we are already working to ensure our part of the business works. Our manpower has been our strength and we were able to achieve the level of output, and the contribution by our officers has improved,” Paul said.

“We have a lot of challenges, we are not perfect but we are much better now than five years ago.”

He said PNG Customs was continuing to invest in human resource development with about 90 per cent of their officers attaining tertiary qualifications.

Effective Financial Inclusion Important

Source: PC Online

BY MELISHA YAFOI

Effective financial inclusion is core to comprehensive developments says Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor.

Dame Meg made this remark at the opening of the Financial Inclusion Innovation Summit yesterday in Port Moresby.

She said the key tenets of financial inclusion overlap significantly with the current regional agenda on financing for development which includes climate and disaster finance combined with financial literacy and financial empowerment which is crucial to mobilise funding for development and adaptation initiatives across the region.

She said the Pacific Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDGs) roadmap that will be considered by the Forum Leaders next week in Samoa seeks to ensure that member countries and development partners are able to deliver on SDGs.

“Central to the success of the roadmap is country ownership and a specific focus on SDG 17 which looks at the means of implementation including partnerships and secure development finance for the attainment of the SDGs,” she said.

Dame Meg stressed that Pacific Island countries require additional finance for long-term development on top of required resources to address sudden economic shocks and extreme weather events such as recent cyclones in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu that wiped out 30 to 60 percent of the national economy.

Papua New Guinea’s Housing Dilemma

By : Phylma Timea ( NRI)

Owning a family home is a dream for many Papua New Guineans. Due to recent economic developments such as the PNG Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Project, affordable accommodation has become an important issue, especially in the National Capital District (NCD).

Currently, there is an imbalance in the real estate market, where demand for affordable housing is not being met by supply. As a result, the cost of owning a home has steadily increased. This makes it harder for the typical Papua New Guinea working population to buy or own a house. It has also caused rental accommodation rates to increase.

recent study by the PNG National Research Institute has highlighted various obstacles faced by private property developers that must be addressed by the appropriate government agencies to ensure that real estate is developed and sold at an affordable price to the average Papua New Guinean.

Obstacles highlighted in the study include:

  • Provision of trunk infrastructure such as clean portable-piped borne water, sewerage, good road network and electric power is being done by the private property developer although it is the responsibility of the state. These additional costs contribute to the high selling price of the houses being built by private property developers.
  • Capacity constraints. There is a shortage of skilled labour in the house construction industry in PNG. People that are available require more training, which contributes to the cost of building a house. Furthermore, the country lacks industries that could support large scale housing projects.
  • Unsupportive policy environment. The current PNG housing policy is out-dated and does not reflect realities in the country. In addition, the policy does not have enough legislation for regulating the housing industry in PNG.
  • High cost of building materials, trunk infrastructure and land. Locally produced materials are often more expensive than imported materials. This also adds to the cost of production.

The key recommendation from the study was an arrangement called the Public-private partnership (PPP) between the public and private sector. In this arrangement, the private sector participates in various stages of the housing project such as designing and building the house whilst the public sector focuses on the development of housing policies and provision of trunk infrastructure and services.

Such a partnership between the two sectors would greatly decrease real estate prices making many Papua New Guineans dream of owning a house come true.

DPE commended for discussing gas reserves

The Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) has been commended for discussing and highlighting the huge volumes of LNG reserves in the country.

This follows recent press coverage on DPE Acting Secretary, Kepsie Puiye, stressing ‘overwhelming evidence’ that the PNG LNG had the potential to expand.

Puiye has been reported saying here is possibility of a third new LNG with the second LNG, Papua LNG having a potential gas reserves of 6-7TCF (trillion cubic feet) set to begin.

Similar discussions have also been made by Oil Search Managing Director, Peter Botten, and Kumul Petroleum Holdings (KCH) Managing Director, Wapu Sonk,  on the reserve of oil and gas in the country recently.

In a statement Head of the Papua New Guinea Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI), Lucas Alkan, commended Puiye for assuring the country on the economic opportunities ahead.

However he said adequately resourcing the Department has been an issues in the face of a growing industry.

“Findings of the first PNGETI Report indicate DPE is chronically under-resourced and lacking in capacity, and was the subject of a number of priority recommendations submitted to the National Executive Council (NEC) for endorsement,” he said.

“We are happy to inform that the first NEC direction, among ten others to relevant government organisations, required immediate ministerial actions to implement a reliable electronic registry system to supersede the current paper ledger system at DPE.”

“We are positive DPE will make necessary adjustments to put in place robust mechanisms to better coordinate and regulate the lucrative LNG business and of course other petroleum resource development in the country” Alkan added.

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