Tag Archives: Charles Abel

The Govt’s 100 Day Plan Expires Tomorrow(19th December 2017)

 


BY GORETHY KENNETH

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:

 

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.

 

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:

 

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.

 

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.

 

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;

 

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.

 

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:

 

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;

 

i) 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.

 

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.

 

Source: Post-Courier

Government embarks on major reforms in 2018

12/12/2017

Source: Loop PNG

The Government will be promoting value for money in 2018 through a number of reforms.

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel, said the Government is confident in delivering to the people through these reforms.

 

Abel said some of these reform initiatives are aimed at reducing inefficiencies, rebasing the size and function of the public service, and re-aligning public sector functions and responsibilities to avoid duplication of roles and responsibilities.

 

The reforms include:

  • Improving the management of personnel emoluments, through the work of OSPEAC;
  • Reducing leakages by implementing the amalgamations programme, and reforming procurement;
  • Improving the selection of capital projects by creating the committee led by Planning to evaluate financial and economic impacts of each projects;
  • Merging National departments and agencies;
  • Management of manpower and personnel emolument ceilings; and
  • Industrial Pay Fixation Agreements.

 

Meantime, Abel added that the Government will also be embarking on major reforms in the business sector leading up to the APEC Summit in 2018.

 

Author: Freddy Mou

PNG moving away from tied loans

Source: Loop PNG

10/ 12/ 2017

Acting Prime Minster, Charles Abel, says the Government is moving away from loan financing with tied conditions.

He said the Government has learned from experience and is now negotiating loans which have better terms for the country.

 

He said this following the signing of a concessional loan with the Czechoslovakian EXIM Bank for K172 million (Euro 55 million) for the Boram Hospital Upgrade Project.

 

Abel said given the experience of the China EXIM Bank loan, which had tied conditions, the PNC-led coalition is now working to move away from such arrangements.

 

He said the Government is now looking more at financing arrangements, which are not tied and will also have a trickling effect on the economy.

 

“We want to begin a process where we want to move away from what we call tied bilateral financing. Some of the conditions that come with these loans require that a company must come from that particular country, so we’re doing our best to move away from that.

 

“We want as much as possible to have open tender, and to have Papua New Guinean companies participate so that more of the indirect benefits from these financing can stay in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

 

Another aspect of the financing arrangements being explored by the Government is concessional loans with relaxed repayment terms.

 

The Czech EXIM Bank loan of K172 million for the Boram Hospital is one such arrangement, he said, which has 2 percent interest and 15-year repayment period with a three grace period.

 

“How we improve these terms so that we have more participation from local companies is very important to us,” Abel said.

Photo Credit: ABC News Page

 

Author: Cedric Patjole

Govt committed to paying Hides LOs

Source: Loop PNG

09/12/2017

The Government is committed to paying the K35 million it promised last year to Hides landowners in Hela Province.

 

Acting Prime Minister Charles Abel however says various court cases have stopped the Government from doing so.

 

Abel said it’s a very complex issue and would like some of the court issues settled quickly so that the money is released.

 

He said numerous court issues have stalled clan vetting, which once completed, will finally see all landowners being paid their royalties.

 

“We’re committed to pay that money. We were ready to pay.  It’s the issues amongst the landowners,” he said.

 

“But hopefully we can get some clarity as soon as possible from our court system so we’re able to pay our Kikori landowners, progress the clan vetting up at Hides and even the pay out of the K35 million.”

 

Recently, Hides landowners shut access to the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant, calling on the Government to immediately settle the K35 million it committed in 2016.

 

The move forced ExxonMobil to withdraw non-essential staff from the Plant while maintaining key personnel at the site.

 

Author: Cedric Patjole

Don’t Be Fooled

 

Deputy PM and Treasurer defends Budget 2018 as ‘not FAKE’

BY GORETHY KENNETH

Treasury Minister Charles Abel has defended the 2018 Budget, saying it is not a “fake” but one that includes visions for the people despite challenges in efforts to stimulate the economy.

Mr Abel also defended the “cost of living to rise” revenue measures which were done to protect the interest of local industries and support PNG-owned manufacturers.

The irate Deputy Prime Minister Abel said yesterday there were many good things about the budget that was passed 95-0 unanimously this week, singling out that the reports in this week’s two front page Post-Courier reports negatively portrayed the budget.

 

“Post-Courier has ignored the hard work that we did in the 2018 Budget, and instead chosen to go with the nonsense and comments made by the Opposition. Where’s the balance? This is a very significant budget,” Mr Abel said.

 

“The budget was passed unanimously this week, and on voices, and the newspaper has printed nothing positive about the budget – two important supporting legislation passed 95-0, but this was ignored,” he said.

 

“So you need to understand the reforms that we are doing so that you can understand all these – for example – why we have a big foreign exchange issue when we have a huge current account surplus.

 

“Foreign exchange surplus means on the books what we export is much more than what we are importing.

 

“We export billions and billions of US dollars worth of raw materials from our logs and gas, which are our two major, but why do we have on the financial account, they don’t match, and in other words the financial flows that make the good flows – so physical flows, the value is much higher than what we import. That surplus doesn’t reflect in our foreign exchange balance, so we need to examine all these structural issues in our economy that means we put onto the short term.

 

“And we are also working on some other long-term issues, replacing some of the imports on our food and fuel, and we see some of the tariff changes that we have done but again – Post-Courier only chooses the negative side of it.

 

“These are relatively small changes, we can make our own soap, we can make our own shampoo, we make our own new products, our own coconut oil, simple things like that, we import oil, when we manufacture them, many of us import canned tuna when we have our own canned tuna. We just have to support our own industries so the value remains within giving jobs to our Papua New Guineans. Otherwise, how we going to move our economy that, when we send our tuna overseas, and send our oil palm overseas, and coconut overseas and we import coconut oil for goodness sake, we import soap, you know we don’t have to import these things, we can make them here in Papua New Guinea.

 

“But we need to slowly support the industries to encourage them to develop our economy. Some of these overseas people have a very cost-effective economy. We are slowly moving that way, but if we don’t encourage our industry with a bit of help, we will never get there, so look at the budget in the totality of all these reforms that I am bringing, so you can see the picture.

 

“Don’t jump straight to what the Opposition say, a fake budget – this is not a fake budget. I worked so hard to make those figures. The bill that was passed yesterday, Revenue Regulation Bill, allowing finance to skip all bank accounts, is very, very important. That is why the money is going to spike up and it’s outside of the budget.

 

“It’s not an easy task, I can tell you, when cash flow is tight, so that’s why we are focusing on revenue,” he said.

Source: Post-Courier Online.

Crackdown on public service

Source: Loop PNG

The Government is determined to boost public service efficiency.

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel says it is about investing in the right areas of the public service such as teachers, nurses and police.

 

“We want to support those and we want to trim down central agencies of government to make us more efficient,” he states.

 

“Those people who are in the public service need to have contracts and conditions, time management and NID cards, so that they turn up to work as a real human being and they get paid, they are clocking in and they are earning their pay and they are producing results,” says Abel.

 

The DPM wants the head of agencies to be held accountable for the management of their staff as well as themselves.

 

“If you breach appropriate provisions around wages or you don’t produce your reports on time to parliament without it being audited, you should be held accountable. It’s that manager that will drive the rest of them.”

 

Abel says there will be more emphasis on contracts for managers following a performance based system that is already in place, brought in by the last public service minister.

 

“When your contract gets reviewed, you will be thoroughly assessed for you performance.

 

“But I think we have to make it specific if your financial reports are not up-to-date and are not on time and you don’t have a valid excuse, it should be grounds for suspension and removal.

 

“It’s all about accountability and establishing standards and enforcing them.”

(Loop file pic)

Author: Meredith Kuusa

Transport Funding Up By 2.1 %

 

BY MIRIAM ZARRIGA

Source: Post-Courier

The transport sector will receive K937 million, which is 2.1 per cent higher than the 2017 Supplementary Budget, and makes up 6.4 per cent of the 2018 Budget.

 

This consists of K642 million in capital and K294 million in operational expenditure.

 

The transport sector has always been the top priority spending of the Government’s capital budget.

 

As a critical enabler that provides access to markets and other essential services to the people, the sector gets the second largest funding allocation after provincial sectors because of the SIP funding.

 

According to National Planning Minister Richard Maru in the presentation of the Public Investment Program yesterday, the transport sector big ticket item in 2018 include the Jackson Airport runway upgrade for K50 million in preparation for APEC Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby.

 

“The Government will spend K370 million to invest in critical roads, bridges programs, key missing link roads, and airports while loans and grants pick up over K340 million to complement the investment in the sector.”

 

Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel said in his Budget speech that the programs and projects implemented this year would continue next year.

 

“These transport programs include the continuous investment on upgrading and maintenance of the national priority roads, plus construction of missing links, district commodity roads, and the Civil Aviation investment development program.

 

“In the medium term, roads, bridges, ports and airports/airstrips will be targeted towards the untapped economic potential areas to stimulate economic growth.”

 

The ADB-funded Highlands Highway rehabilitation program starts next year, rural jetties gets K20 million, oil palm roads K15 million, the rural airstrips authority gets K6 million, Mr Abel said.

 

Post-Courier.com.pg – 30.11.2017

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