Category Archives: Regional

Abel Briefs World Bank and IMF on Next Moves to Advance PNG’s Submarine Internet Cable and Discussed Concessional Funding for Restructuring Debt

 

22 October 2017
Source: Office Of The Prime Minister

Engagement with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, that will stimulate positive economic development in the face of global challenges, has been advanced at meetings in Washington D.C. by the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Hon. Charles Abel MP.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Abel said the new submarine fibre optic communications cable project, that will deliver cheaper and faster Internet, and the provision of concessional financing for the restructuring of existing debt, will deliver positive economy stimulus for the economy.

 

“Papua New Guinea has a close working relationship with the World Bank and IMF, and the benefits of this engagement will become even more obvious to our people with the delivery of cheaper and faster Internet.

 

“Working with the World Bank, and also our partners in Australia, the new submarine communications cable will deliver greater Internet access for Papua New Guineans.

 

“The new communications cable will make the Internet we received on our computers and smart phones much faster, and with the increased supply we will see Internet data prices fall.

 

“Increased access to the Internet is essential if we are to advance Papua New Guinea’s economy and improve service delivery.

 

“The submarine cable has been the subject of much discussion in recent years, and now we are moving ahead so that it will be in place ahead of the APEC Summit.

 

“The time given to our country by the World Bank and IMF executive for meetings in Washington was tremendous.

 

“I took the opportunity to remind them of the particular circumstances of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific small island states.

 

“I said PNG has globally significant natural assets to build a new, responsible, sustainable economy that brings inclusive development to its people but also can support climate change mitigation globally.

 

“We are confronted with our immediate development challenges and are also on the frontline of the effects of climate change.”

 

The Deputy Prime Minister said discussions with the World Bank on restructuring existing debt with concessional funding will further simplify debt that has been established over recent decades, and reduce servicing costs.

 

“Papua New Guinea has never defaulted on a debt payment, and this is respected by global institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

 

“We are in talks with the World Bank and IMF so that we can bring together a number of scattered debts and consolidate these under a single debt facility at a much more favourable interest rate.

 

“Debt consolidation will save public funds and retire outstanding loans quicker than had previously been possible.”

 

Deputy Prime Minister Abel was accompanied by Treasury Secretary, Dairi Vele, and the Governor for the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Loi Bakani.

 

As well as the main Plenary Sessions of the World Bank Meeting, the DPM participated on 3 panels, including a panel with the World Bank CEO, and the Finance Ministers for Indonesia and Serbia, on Asia and the Growing Middle Class and Inclusive Development.

 

The DPM also had 15 meetings including separate meetings with CEO of the World Bank, Kristalina Gregorieva, Asia Pacific Director, Victoria Kwakwa, and Australian Treasurer, Scott Morrison.

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30 Million Hectares Intact: Tomuriesa

 

 

BY MATTHEW VARI of Post-Courier

PAPUA New Guinea currently has 30 million hectares of untouched pristine rainforest cover in the country.

This does not include an additional six million hectares currently subjected to human activities.

Minister for Forests, Douglas Tomuriesa announced the figures for the country’s forest inventory at the launch of the country’s National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) 2017-2027.

“I am pleased to inform the gathering today that about 75 per cent or 30 million hectares of our forest are still intact with very little or no human disturbances,” he said.

He said maintenance of natural resources should be recognised by the global community, and the priority of government rests with the wellbeing of the people, who own almost all the forests.

“The international community has time to involve Papua New Guinea and is able to talk with us about elements of REDD+ because of the abundance and quality of our forests.”

“We are thankful that out of these efforts and outcomes of performance-based approaches in the NRS, PNG will qualify for the revenue flows from the international climate change funds.”

“Of the 46 million hectares that constitute the total landmass of PNG, 36 million hectares, or 78 per cent, is under forest cover,” he said.

He said the country is aware of its global responsibility to protect the biodiversity of its natural forests, but other countries take on the approach.

“Our forests are critical to our development from biodiversity as well as from our source of economy perspective.”

“In PNG, forests are essential to our environment, our economy, and our society.”

Annually, the forest sector contributes significantly to the country’s GDP, and government revenues, and is a source for forest resource owners who constitute 85 per cent of the population in the rural areas.

The minister pointed out the main group in the country that needs convincing to maintain forests remains, are the landowners.

Proposed policy to declare revenue

Source: Loop PNG

9th October 2017.

 

The Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGH) says it is working to introduce a policy for stakeholders in the mining industry to declare any revenue received or made from mining projects.

 

Secretary Harry Kore told Loop PNG that the policy idea came about during consultations for the Revised Mining Act.

 

He said while there are reports of mining revenue generated, a lot of locals impacted by mining activities claim to not see any tangible results.

 

Kore said the policy will ensure stakeholders such as provincial governments, authorities such as the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), Mineral Resources Development Cooperation (MRDC), as well as landowner association chairmen and landowner company CEOs declare revenue received for the benefit of all.

 

“You fail to do that and you will be held accountable and you will be penalised under the law. So it becomes a practise. Every quarter they just declare their interest. We know that so much money goes to our landowners but whether it trickles down to the peoples is another thing,” said Kore.

 

The policy idea is similar to a draft legislation currently being drawn up by the PNG Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative to make mandatory all revenue from the mineral, petroleum and gas sectors to be fully disclosed as per good governance standards.

 

Kore said they are yet to have formal discussions regarding the policy idea however, there is cooperation and the policy complements that of the work the EITI is undertaking.

 

Secretary Kore added that one of the agendas of the policy is to ensure there is sustainability in how revenue is invested back in the country.

Announcements On SABL To Be Made This Week

 

 

BY MATTHEW VARI of Post-Courier

A major announcement will be made this week on special agricultural and business lease (SABL), says Lands and Physical Planning Minister, Justin Tkatchenko.

 

These leases have been the subject of much debate both within and abroad in addressing the issues of illegally acquired land leases under the guise of the lease arrangement.

 

Mr Tkatchenko said since his appointment to the ministry, he has ensured that a high-level committee dealt with all the leases.

 

“As you know, we have set up the committee to go through every SABL file and the decision from the commission of inquiry.”

 

“With that, I will be making some very strong and firm and positive decisions on the leases that have already been investigated by the committee,” he said.

 

“There are some serious matters from these SABLs that have come up and the country will be very happy because we have had enough.”

 

He said there has been stealing of public, customary, and other land, where no consultations had ever been done, but his ministry would get to the bottom of the issues before the New Year.

 

“To all the customary landowners, the ILGs, bear with me. We are going to make sure that before the end of this year that most of these issues are resolved.”

 

Tkatchenko assured the landowners that the committee in place is a serious one that sits every week to deliberate.

 

“The committee is not just a giaman (fake) committee set up just to make us look good. They have to work and get outcomes that pleases the situation at hand.”

 

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced in November last year Cabinet’s decision to revoke all SABL titles.

 

Despite the decision, concerns were raised on the slow response of the department responsible in carrying out the revocation process.

Wash Policy Attracting Donor Support

 

Source: Post-Courier

BY MATTHEW VARI 

Picture: Loop PNG

The country’s first water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) policy has attracted the support of various development partners since its introduction in 2015.

 

With the national government’s commitment in having such a policy, it has since enabled focus areas identified to be addressed with increased expression of interest from development partners in the form of water and sanitation projects.

 

Program management unit co-ordinator, Takale Tuna said this when speaking at the Yumi Olgeta media event organised by the United Nations and European Union last week in Port Moresby.

 

As the result of the policy being passed by government we have actually been able to put together a lot of the development partners like World Bank has provided us a loan, EU has provided us some funding through UNICEF to address WaSH in schools and WaSH in health centres.”

 

“Also ADB is looking at peri-urban, which is basically the settlements, but also towns as well.”

 

“Also DFAT (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affair and Trade) have expressed interest and JICA (Japan’s aid program). So just because of the policy and the wash PMU (program management unit) that I head, there has been quiet great interest of the development partners to come around and help us address our water sanitation hygiene access.”

 

The WaSH policy aims to reduce water-borne diseases, reduce the amount of time that women especially spend their time collecting water, and equity issues to marginalised group in accessing water sanitation.

 

“Those are the main goals in terms of government improving the quality of life for Papua New Guineans,” Mr Tuna said.

 

PNG has never had a WaSH Policy and approaches to achieving national targets have been random and unco-ordinated.

 

As a result, access to improved water sources and safe sanitation has been declining in recent years as services fail to keep up with population growth and demand.

Panguna work to cost K18.8 billion

Source: The National

CONSTRUCTION of the Panguna mine is estimated to cost US$4-6 billion (K12.5- K18.8 billion).

 
Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) secretary Mark Hitchcock said significant tax revenue would be generated in the estimated 25-plus years’ mine life, with operations starting around 2025-26.

 
Hitchcock spoke during the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s (ABG) three-day tax and revenue summit in Buka last week aimed at finding ways to improve the financial outlook for the region and the government’s ability to fund services for its people.

 
Hitchcock was invited to present development of a new Panguna mining project, including its potential revenue and broader economic benefits.

 
Once developed, the mine would generate significant tax revenue over the 25-plus years operational life of the project.

 
The presentation was drawn from an order of magnitude study which was updated late last year.

 
A realistic timeline for the Panguna project will see the mine operational around 2025-26, Hitchcock said, and the potential tax revenue gains had to be viewed as a longer term prospect with no short-term, direct tax generation, although the project’s development and construction period would present income generation opportunities.

 
Hitchcock highlighted the need for certainty in relation to the tax regime that would apply to the project and warned that excessive tax imposts would undermine its viability. “One potential pathway is for the ABG and PNG national government to work towards a joint agreement to provide assurances regarding applicable taxes that would apply over the longterm,” Hitchcock said.

 
In addition to tax revenue, he said the Panguna project would have a wider multiplier effect in terms of economic benefit.

 
“A project of this scale will help stimulate the economy in a multitude of ways in areas such as training and employment, new business opportunities in the supply of goods and services and the provision of new infrastructure to name a few,” he said.

 
Hitchcock congratulated the ABG for holding the tax and revenue summit and said BCL welcomed opportunities to contribute to important policy discussions in Bougainville.

US agency funds K3.3m climate change projects

Source: The National
Photo: Mark Godfrey via Nature Conservancy

United State Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded four new community-based conservation and climate-change projects in the country at a cost of $US1.04million (K3.3million), a representative of the fund providers says.

 
During the project’s awards presentations to the four recipients in Port Moresby yesterday, Peter Collier, the chief of party at the Pacific-American Climate Fund which funded the projects, highlighted the strong partnership needed to produce durable results.

 
“The Pacific-American Climate Fund is committed to fund and improve environment protection and biodiversity conservation and climate change projects in the Pacific, including PNG,” Collier said.

 
“To realise tangible outcomes, all stakeholders and project partners at the national, sub-national down to the local communities need to work together to make it happen.”

 
Deputy managing director for the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) Dilu Muguwa said those donor agencies and multilateral partners were showing great interest in conservation efforts in the country though government support through funding allocation was less.

 
“The donor partners like USAID, United Nations Development Programme, Japanese International Cooperation Agency and other multilateral partners and donors are doing well to support conservation projects but the issue we have is working in parallel with the established state agencies like Cepa,” Muguwa said.

 
“So in the future, we are looking at addressing these issues so that there is proper management in place to ensure we have an effective and transparent management system in place so projects are managed well to tangible outcomes on the ground.”

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