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Opening Address to Parliament – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill

Address to Parliament by

Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP

Prime Minister 


22 August 2017

Mr. Speaker,
I thank His Excellency, the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae, for his opening address to this Honourable House this morning.

Mr. Speaker,
Please allow me to express the Government’s appreciation on this occasion, and at the same time Mr. Speaker, to take this opportunity to welcome all Members of Parliament on both sides of the House. 
Our people have placed their trust in all of us to represent them in this House so we can continue to stand-up for the interests of our great Nation.
Now is the time to be united behind this common trust that our people have place in us.
Now is a time to put aside personality politics.
It is a time to debate policy and ideas that will advance the interests of all Papua New Guineans.
As a Government, we will continue to build on the foundations that we laid over the past five years.
We went to elections with a core set of policies, and the voters embraced these policies.
Working with our coalition partners in Alotau, we have further strengthened these policies, and this going to be is the agenda that we bring to this Parliament.
We have the mandate of the people, and we will honour this mandate given to us through our words and through our actions.

ECONOMIC FOUNDATIONS
As a Government we must maintain focus on strengthening our economic foundations of our Nation.
We will review the revenue that our Government currently generates.
Through this process we will identify areas where we are not reaching our true potential, and to increase these revenue streams.
This will involve the development of a comprehensive Medium-Term Revenue Strategy to stimulate revenue-led growth for our economy.

REVENUE AND DEBT REVIEW
Alongside this assessment of revenue, we will undertake a very comprehensive review of expenditure and our debt management strategy.
We acknowledge that debt is an essential part of life for Government and business alike. 
We must continue to think long-term and continue to apply sensible debt management.
Our economy is in a strong position compared to similar economies around the world, and we will continue to review this position and make positive change.

EXPANDING ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION
An important element in facilitating true economic growth is sharing the gains so that all people benefit.
Our Government, working with our agencies of Government and international partners, will expand the delivery of economic inclusion programs.
We will continue to increase financial literacy and access to credit in the formal economy.

SME DEVELOPMENT
Over the last 40 years, one key business short-falls has been our country’s ability to grow the SME Sector.
While we are open to inviting more foreign direct investment, we need there to be a more level playing field especially in the SME sector.
We are delivering a comprehensive strategy that will grow this sector into the future.

RESOURCES PROJECTS
When it comes to large-scale projects, global companies continue to maintain the highest level of confidence in our oil, gas and mineral sectors.
We are working with TOTAL from France, ExxonMobil from the United States, Oil Search and other companies so that we can develop the next level of LNG production in our country.
At the same time, we know that our value-add strategy coming from this is one that we must advance so that our people and our country continue to benefit more.
We will advance plans to establish a petrochemicals industry in our country over the coming years.

LAND OWNERSHIP
We also need to work harder so that we can continue to support land ownership and equitable benefit sharing that our people are demanding.
We want to ensure that traditional owners can truly benefit from the resources that they and their communities have possessed for thousands of years.
To this end, we are committed to a review on ownership rights of resources in our country.

FORESTRY
Our forestry sector is another resource where we can value-add.
For far too long, Governments have had a less than transparent visibility of this industry where a blind-eye has been turned to issues blatantly before Government.
In this term of Government we will legislate for sustainable forestry development, and we will continue to increase landowner participation in this industry.

TOURISM
A further area of great potential for our people is tourism in this country.
There is so much that we have to offer the world tourism market, and to offer to our own domestic tourist market.
We must strengthen tourism infrastructure, this includes not only building hotels, but other infrastructure like sea ports and air ports.
As agreed in the Second Alotau Accord, we will promote and establish associated infrastructure for the tourism Hubs in our country.

INFRASTRUCTURE
The economy of our nation can only move forward if we have the right infrastructure in place.
Over recent decades, infrastructure has been left to ruin, and has not kept pace with a growing population.
Through the Second Alotau Accord, we have committed to opening up missing links, especially road and bridge links between many of the isolated communities right throughout the country.
We are determined to bring other infrastructure such as power and telecommunications, and make them cheaper.

LAW AND ORDER
Over recent decades, Papua New Guinea has suffered from a negative reputation because of Law and Order issues.
Through the policy initiatives of the Second Alotau Accord, we will create safer and more secure communities.
Our Government is committed to continuing the recruitment of well-disciplined police men and woman, and also other disciplined forces, and equipping them properly so that the can do a fair job.
We will also review legislation that governs all of our disciplined services, to ensure far better accountability so that there is far better command and control structures in place.
Today, in many parts of the country the judiciary and legal system are also gaining access to better infrastructure.
At the same time, our judiciary and legal infrastructure will continued to be enhanced and updated.

EDUCATION
Free education for our children has certainly changed the Nation and launched a new path for many Papua New Guineans.
Over the past five years we have placed more than one million additional children in school.
The first five years of free education has come with a lot of challenges, we are the first to admit this.
Our clear focus now is on improving the quality of education for all of our children.
We also need to keep increasing the number of Papua New Guineans who are getting trade qualifications, as well as expanding their academic qualifications through universities.
We are committed to establishing of an Education Endowment Fund that will further enhance quality education being delivered throughout our country.

HEALTHCARE
Providing healthcare to remote and rural areas remains a core Government policy.
Access to hospital care should not be restricted to urban areas only, and in this term of Government, we will continue to build and rehabilitate district and provincial hospitals.
We will continue to work with churches, NGOS and partner Governments, to strengthen our healthcare services.
We will subsidise specialised healthcare, and we will improve the collation and use of health data and wellbeing indicators. 

POPULATION
We really do not know how many people live in our country.
We have estimates, but these are not accurate enough.
We need to re-establish a National Data Collection Centre so that we can plan better and we can develop policies that better reflect the population distribution in our country.
Accurate population data is key for proper Public Policy planning and monitoring. 
We must aim to keep our economic growth above our population growth, and we can only do this by having access to reliable data so that we can monitor these very indicators as we move forward.

FOREIGN POLICY
We live in an ever-changing and globalising world, it is essential that we position ourselves to be a functional and respected global citizen.
We will continue to grow our trading opportunities and partnerships with many other countries within the region.
We will continue to build our multi-national relations that we already have.
Papua New Guinea is now the incoming host of APEC.
In November next year, the twenty Presidents and Prime Ministers of APEC’s other Member Economies will visit our country.
This is an opportunity to showcase our country to the world.
It is an opportunity to change the way the world views our country.
Papua New Guinea’s APEC will have very Pacific-style Hospitality along with world-class security arrangements.

CONCLUSION – POSITIVE FUTURE
We will continue to be a Government that Governs for all Papua New Guineans.
We must unite all of our people for the betterment of their lives and our country.
We will execute the mandate that has been entrusted to us with diligence and compassion.
We will work day-and-night to deliver the infrastructure and the services that will continue to strengthen our economy and our communities.
This is our pledge that our Government makes to our people.
We thank our Nation and this Honourable House for the mandate that has been bestowed upon us.
We will certainly not let you down, and we will deliver to your expectations.
God Bless Papua New Guinea.

PNG Has Potential To Expand In LNG

August 18th, 2017 | Post Courier

BY MELISHA YAFOI

Papua New Guinea has a huge potential to expand in the liquefied natural gas area.
Oil Search managing director Peter Botten said this yesterday during the business breakfast with the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Mr Botten outlined that PNG was in a tremendous position to expand in LNG production because it has more fully discovered gas resources.
He said the fields have more than 10 tcf of gas available for new investment with six and half which will be in the Elk Antelope field and extra resources from the PNG LNG fields, and Pyn’yang to add to the production value.
He said LNG can positively impact the economy with the right environment because both oil and gas can then double over the next five to seven years.
However, he said the prerequisite is for developers to be directly engaging with landowners and the country to ensure surveys are being done and fair distributions of have been made to all parties from existing projects.
Mr Botten stressed that the industry now must demonstrate the value of the projects and their value in distribution.
“We certainly need to improve our benefits for our projects and when new projects can be contemplated. Benefits delivery from the PNG LNG must improve and landowners must be paid.
“The money is there, some has already being paid and the barriers with the distribution must be removed.
Over K3 billion has been paid by the project in royalty, development levy and equity distribution to state landowners since 2014,” he said.
Mr Botten said that the oil and gas market is oversupplied due to global oil and gas prices which is relatively low as a result the market is expected to remain oversupplied early into the next decade.
He said that is a competitive scene with a growing demand for the PNG LNG market because of the low prices which will attract new customers.
“The reality is that without these sanctions of new LNG projects over the next four years or so there will be shortage of LNG by the middle of the next decade, and prices will rise as a result the economic position of the billion kina project and the financing of it will continue to be challenging.
“Discussions have commenced on further expansions of LNG and developments on Papua LNG might occur. It is now essential for the new government and all stakeholders for the next phase of the industry’s development,” he added.

K8 Billion in Trust Accounts Missing – O’Neill

By: Freddy Mou – PNG Loop
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has called for a full audit into the K8 billion in surpluses that was parked in trust accounts under the Somare Government.

He said the people of Papua New Guinea need to know what happened to the fund.

“Eight billion Kina that belongs to the people of Papua New Guinea went missing,” claimed the PM.

“When we took over, there was almost zero balance in Government accounts. That is why we had to go into deficit budget to build new infrastructure around the country, to pay for our school fees, and to pay for our hospitals that our people deserve.”

However, National Alliance Party campaign director and former IPBC Minister, Arthur Somare, said O’Neill is ignorant of facts in claiming that “massive theft” of K8 billion had occurred from Trust Accounts built up from surplus budgets between 2005 and 2010.

Somare said it was impossible that O’Neill was ignorant of the facts because the status of the Trust Accounts was disclosed by him in his capacity as Treasurer in November 2010 when he presented the 2011 National Budget in Parliament.

“In the budget, O’Neill had quantified the total amounts that had flowed into the Trust Accounts in that six-year period as totaling K4.57 billion, with approved expenditures amounting to K3.6 billion.

“The totality of surplus funds never exceeded K5 billion so how would it be possible to steal K8 billion.”

Meanwhile, O’Neill said the nation is moving beyond the damage of the lost decade of the Morauta and Somare Governments, and one day the theft of the past will be revealed.

“In the next Parliament we will continue to investigate the missing billions of the Somare and Morauta Governments,” he stated.

New Fiber Optic Cable Option being Pursued for PNG

Post-Courier – Thursday, June 8, 2017
BY MELISHA YAFOI

PNG Data Co is now firming up on one of its two options to connect PNG to the world using a new submarine cable to be built.
Managing director Paul Komboi said that the government has now reviewed previously preferred options including ICN-2 and have now tasked DataCo to provide two options that will be able to connect PNG from Port Moresby to Australia.
Mr Komboi said they are now pursuing a new cable option from Port Moresby down to Sydney, Australia.
“We currently do have an optical fibre submarine connection called the “APNG-2” submarine cable from Port Moresby to Sydney, but it’s very limited in capacity, expensive and very unreliable so that’s the problem and we need to fix that problem.”
“Our APNG-2 Submarine cable down to Sydney will reach its end of life very soon I think another two years or so is left for its operation and service. We need to replace this APNG-2 submarine cable before the cable stops operating. I think basically, it’s a requirement for PNG to have a new optical fibre submarine cable with modernized and futuristic technology and capability given the dynamic nature of the ICT sector and industry.
“It’s a necessity now for the country to have a cable connecting us to the the worldwide information network to allow for accessibility to information, markets and knowledge. Reliable, a lot of capacity; that is what we need,” he said.
By building this new optical fibre submarine cable, we will introduce modernized communication technology, which will enable us to lower the pricing of data services, provide super high capacity and speed, as well as proven reliability and better service quality to meet the country’s current and future demand.”
He added that it is an important infrastructure like electicity and water, and the government’s plans and decision to invest in this high-capital modernized infrastructure is not being ambitious but rather necessary”.
“It is a necessity for the government to invest in such infrastructure and so, all we need to do now is manage them effectively and efficiently for the benefit of our people and the whole latest restructure e is about better managing those high-cpatial modernized infrastructure assets of the state and people..
“We have firmed up on one of our options. We are going into details discussions, negotiations and plans now such as the arrangements for who will be the actual vendor to supply and install the cable and also firming up on pre-sales of the capacity on who will be using the new fibre optic submarine cable. We are expecting by mid-June to end of June to be able to make some joint announcements with our partners to be able to launch this project officially,” he said.
Mr Komboi affirms that there’s also been positive response from Australia to assist them with the lending arrangements, adding that the appetite to have a new optical fibre submarine cable between Port Moresby and Sydney is there but they are looking at who they should partner with and under what structure and terms.
“There are some things we are still discussing and negotiating at the moment at the background, and we are not yet at the liberty to share unless every party has agreed to the terms and conditions.
We are yet to give a name to this new project and will announce it once all the requirements are met and parties are in principle satisfied,” he said.

BSP opens branch in Cambodia

By: Cedric Patjole – 26 May 2017
Bank South Pacific will be creating history when it enters the Asian market following the announcement of its new new branch in Cambodia.
This was revealed today during the announcing of the final dividend to shareholders for 2016 today.
The decision to enter Cambodia was settled on May 2nd this year.

BSP owns 50 per cent of an asset finance company called RMA Finance, which is now in the process of being rebranded to BSP Finance Cambodia Proprietary Limited.
“It’s already operating. We now own 50 per cent and the formal rebranding, hopefully by the end of July we’ll have the BSP colours proudly in Cambodia,” said BSP CEO Robin Fleming.

The new branch in Cambodia is part of BSP strategy to enter the Asian market following its successful penetration in the Pacific which it has successfully covered following its acquisition of Westpac’s assets in the region.
BSP Board Chairman Sir Kostas said other countries in BSP’s sights include Lao’s, Myanmar, and Vietnam which they hope to enter between 18 months to two years.
“We’re starting to do feasibility on these Laos, Myanmar, I mean these things don’t happen overnight. There’s a timeframe, we make sure we have all the ticks in the boxes first. Make sure all the regulatory requirements are satisfied and we proceed. 
But there is opportunity in these countries. That’s the main thing,” said Sir Kostas.

BSP is the largest business in PNG outside of companies in the resources sector.
The banking chain has seen remarkable growth, particularly over the last three years despite a tough economic environment.
The growth and performance is attributed to the management team and staff of the company.

We Borrow To Build – O’Neill

By MALUM NALU
22th May 2017

BORROWING is needed to boost economic growth, and the country has the ability to repay all the loans it takes out, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.

He told heads of Government departments during their meeting at the coastal village of Keapara in Rigo, Central, on Friday that the economy continued to grow.

“Because our GDP has grown, our ability to repay those loans has also grown. That is why we are able to borrow a little bit more money to build infrastructure,” he said.

“Borrowing is not a curse. It is our ability to manage that borrowing, making sure that we invest in the right sector.

“Infrastructure is nation-building.

“It is the right sector to invest.

“It builds the economy of the nation.

“That is why we must continue to invest in it.”

Borrow

He said the Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Bank lent money to PNG at concessional rates such as two per cent because they had “confidence in our economy”.

“Every country each year had a limit on how much they can borrow from these institutions,” O’Neill said.

“PNG’s limit is always being upgraded every year.

“That’s because they do an independent assessment of our economy, and they have confidence in our economy.”

He said the debt-to-gross domestic product level had decreased from 70 per cent in 2000 to about 35 per cent currently.

Sir Ruben Taureka Higway Open

18th May 2015 – 12pm

The 14 km world-class four-lane highway from 6 mile junction to Bautama was officially opened today by Prime Minister and leader of PNC party Hon. Peter O’Neill who assured the people of Central Province about his government’s commitment in helping to build their city after the formation of government after August this year.

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Governor Powes Parkop who also attended the event with other dignitaries namely – Moresby South MP Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, Moresby North-East MP, Hon. Labi Amaiu, Moresby North West MP, Hon. Michael Malabag, BSP CEO Mr Robin Flemming, and Hebou owner Sir Thophilus Constantinou said since independence no other government like the PNC led government delivered in terms of road infrastructure for the country and made reference to the nation’s capital as the model city in the country.

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Mr Parkop said for many years previous governments had budget surpluses yet failed to develop the economic corridors of the country. He said the Sir Ruben Taureka Highway was a prime example of the current government’s commitment and vision shared by his office (NCDC), which was to make Port Moresby – ‘the pearl of the South Pacific.’

The 14 km road cost the national government K160.2m to build under the helm of Hebou Construction in Port Moresby,

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