****Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce & Industry- the 2013 mid year economic outlook from Treasurer Hon. Don Poyle. - August 2nd****
Domestic Economic Outlook -
In contrast to the rather somber international scene, the Papua New Guinea economy remains strong and businesses continue to draw confidence from the stable domestic political landscape, the government’s fiscal stimulus and the continuing construction phase of the PNG LNG project.
In 2013 the economy is expected to grow at 6.1 per cent, an upward revision from the 4.0 percent projected at the 2013 Budget. This upward revision is due largely to the continuation of the PNG LNG construction phase for longer than expected at the time of the 2013 Budget, a rebound expected in the mining and quarrying sector and the positive effects of the increased government spending expected from the 2013 Budget. The construction sector is now expected to grow at 12.3 percent in 2013 -driven by the increase in government spending on infrastructure in the Budget whilst the PNG LNG construction phase is at its advanced stages and its impact will not be as large as in the previous years.
The community, social and personal services sector is expected to benefit from the increased size of government spending from the 2013 Budget especially on the Government’s key priorities of education, health care and rehabilitation of infrastructure. It is anticipated that this increased spending by Government will have a direct impact on the sector through increased incomes to households taking part in the implementation of these projects and indirectly from flow-on effects of higher spending elsewhere.Other non-mining sectors including manufacturing, wholesale and retail, transport storage and communication and finance, real estate and business services are expected to steady in 2013.
The agriculture, forestry, fisheries sector is projected to grow at 2.7 per cent, just under the 2013 Budget projection of 2.8 per cent. This growth reflects lower prices, unfavorable weather conditions and infrastructure related problems. The mining and quarrying sector growth has been revised up to 20 percent from the 2013 budget forecast of 17.8 per cent. This upward revision is due to an improvement in production expected from one of the key mines. The oil and gas sector is expected to continue its slow down due to the natural decline of the oil fields. The contraction of the oil sector offsets the strong forecasts from the other sectors in 2013.
Employment, Inflation and the Balance of payments - Turning now to employment, strong economic growth translates to total strong employment growth, I wish I could be specific, and talk about the actual number of jobs created. Unfortunately, these types of economic statistics are not collected in PNG, and this makes my job as Treasurer harder. However, the Bank of PNG does have an index which at least gives some information about employment trends. And in this area, there is very good news for the non-mining sector. Based on through-the-year growth figures, non-mining sector employment grew strongly by 7.4 percent through to the end of the March quarter 2013. The strong non-mining sector employment is driven primarily by the strong growth in the retail (up 19 per cent), building and construction (up 14.5 per cent), manufacturing (up 10.5 per cent) and wholesale sectors (up 8.1 per cent).
Works Minister Francis Awesa gave a speech on behalf of PM O'Neill during the launching of the K8m re-sealing of the Wapenamanda Town roads yesterday (01/08/13) in Wapenamanda Town, Enga Province. He also committed on behalf of the Government K25m for the Wapenamanda-Tsak road construction and K10m for the Wapenamanda-Lowlae road.
*****Sir Michael Somare thanks Western Highlands Governor. - August 2nd*****
The Governor of East Sepik, Sir Michael Somare, has thanked the people and Governor of Western Highlands, Paias Wingti, for the invitation to celebrate with them development that are taking place in the province.
Sir Michael said it was a historic occasion that Governor Wingti was able to get so many former prime Ministers to join the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill and the people of Western Highlands for the ground breaking ceremony to mark the start of reconstructing Kapal House. He said Western Highlands is the regional centre for neighbouring provinces, and it is important the provincial administration is housed and resourced properly to be able to adequately serve the people. Sir Michael said the visit also gave him the opportunity to thank the people of Western Highlands for their support to him over the years in giving him members of parliament for both the Pangu Pati and later National Alliance Party. He said he has done his part in nation-building and now leadership is in the hands of the next generation of leaders.
Sir Michael encouraged people and leaders to work together to ensure the dreams of the founding fathers of nationhood and unity live on and translate to improved living for all the people of Papua New Guinea.
****Prime Minister O'Neill commits $500,000 funding for Lutheran Syond on Karkar Island in Madang Province . - August 5th****
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill last week committed K500,000 for the Lutheran synod, which will be held on Karkar Island in Madang Province next year. Mr O’Neill made this commitment in front of a huge crowd at the Taur village adding that this fund will assist the Sumkar District to host the synod on the island. This coincided with his visit to the island yesterday where the Prime Minister showed his support to the current Sumkar Member, Ken Fairweather, by officiating at the handing over of cocoa seedlings by government officials to cocoa-growing families. He also officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for a proposed town at the Dogowan plantation, opened the Ken Fairweather Hall at the Karkar Secondary School and witnessed the presentation of the district’s Five-Year Development Plan. The Prime Minister said the Lutheran Church plays a significant role in the development of the country and the funds would greatly assist to prepare for the synod. Mr O’Neill also paid a courtesy call on Sir John Middleton and his wife at their home at the Kulili Estate upon his arrival at Karkar before visiting the rest of the island.
******PM VISITS OK TEDI, LISTENS TO WORKERS’ AND LANDOWNERS’ GRIEVANCES. August 5th 2013 *****
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill flew into the mining township of Tabubil, Western Province last Friday (02/08/13) to listen to workers and landowners’ grievances. Accompanying the Prime Minister were Mining Minister Byron Chan, Boka Kondra (Culture & Tourism Minister and MP for North Fly), Roy Biyama (MP for Middle Fly), and Solan Mirisim (MP for Telefomin). Upon arrival in Tabubil, the delegation was met at the airport by OTML Managing Director Nigel Parker and provincial government representatives before being taken on a brief drive through the beautiful Tabubil township.
As this was the first time for any PNG Prime Minister to visit Tabubil, the drizzly weather did not dampen their spirits as school children, local residents and OTML staff excitedly lined up along the streets to welcome the Prime Minister and his entourage.
Mr O’Neill and his entourage met briefly with OTML Mining and Allied Workers’ Union representatives at the ‘White House’ – the OTML company headquarters before proceeding to address the workers and company representatives at the ‘Camp Four bus stop’.
Mr Parker formally welcomed the Prime Ministerial delegation before Anthony Tipiso, Vice President of the OTML Mining and Allied Workers Union spoke on behalf of the 2, 000 plus workforce.Mr Tipiso said the Prime Minister’s visit was very much appreciated as it was the first time for any Prime Minister to visit Ok Tedi and meet with workers and hear their concerns.
Among the concerns raised included the welfare of the workers following a recent announcement by government to take back ownership and control of the mine. These concerns were all contained in a petition which was handed over to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister O’Neill responded and reassured the OTML workers that they will be paid out all entitlements due to them prior to the changeover. The crowd applauded this response from the Prime Minister. He said the government was already aware of many of the issues surrounding the Ok Tedi Mine. However, he said the government will look into the concerns raised by the union representatives, including a request for government to free up land for OTML staff to build permanent homes upon their retirement, when they return to their home provinces. Mr O’Neill also reassured them that the management of the mine will be left as it is and without political interference. After the speeches, the OTML staff presented ‘bilum’ gifts to the visiting dignitaries. The delegation had lunch at the Tabubil Golf Club before meeting with landowner representatives at the Gazebo Club. They listened to landowners concerns raised by Richard Zumoi, a representative of the Middle Fly Corridor communities and Tobby Yakumani, the Executive Officer of Mineral Resource Star Mountain. A petition was also presented to the Prime Minister.The Prime Minister and his delegation were satisfied with the visit. “I am glad we were able to visit the Star Mountains and listen to the concerns of our people - the OTML staff and landowners as well. As a government, it is important that we interact with our people so that we know what their needs are. That way, we can be better placed to make informed decisions about providing services for our people,” Mr O’Neill said.
****Prime Minister O'Niell Launches his new Foundation. - August 5th 2013****
A record K3.868 Million was raised on Saturday night.
A record K3.868 Million Kina was raised for the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill foundation fundraising dinner on the weekend. Special appearances by channel nine’s Richard Wilkins and Australian multi award winning singer Tina Arena heralded Sundays Black Tie event, with its guest of over 500 people with many of PNG’s cooperate and Government sectors in attendance.
The Prime Minister also used this time to update attendees on the Governments performance in the last 12 months and the priorities for the year ahead. "I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve in the last 12 months. We have lifted spending on education, health care, and on key Law and Order Programs by 50% in just one year. We have introduced free education from elementary school to year 10. From next year education will be compulsory. In health we are making basic health care free – and we are ensuring our health centers have all the medicine they need. All our major hospitals will be upgraded or rebuilt. The board of the Port Moresby general hospital have started a major facelift of our premier hospital and there is more to come so I commend them”
Education Law and Order, decentralization of basic services and infrastructure are priorities according to Prime Minister O’Neill. On top of that the Government is determined to grow PNG’s SME sector as well as instill political stability.
We have delivered Political stability and certainty. “We are halfway through the process of strengthening it even further- through sensible constitutional change”
Tina Arena sang a number of her own songs as well as a duet with local artist Honlly Isaac. All proceeds of this event will go to local charities, foundations and people in need.
****Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill will make his first official visit to New Zealand later this week. August 5th 2013****
The three-day visit from Wednesday will include an official dinner and an official opening of the refurbished Papua New Guinea High Commission in Wellington.
Both governments are encouraging greater commercial ties with a double tax agreement going through the final stages of ratification.
"There are huge opportunities for New Zealand businesses in Papua New Guinea. The tax agreement will help facilitate trade between both countries," Prime Minister John Key said in a statement on Monday.
"New Zealand also supports a large aid programme in Papua New Guinea. We are sharing our expertise in renewable energy and agricultural production and distribution with Papua New Guinea.
"We are also providing continued support to Bougainville, including a successful community policing project."
********PM O'NEILL LEADING BY EXAMPLE. - August 5th 2013*********
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says he has quit drinking alcohol and is travelling more around the country to ensure better delivery of services to the people.
“I have not touched a drop (of alcohol) since Christmas,” O’Neill told journalist John Eggins in an onstage interview during a fundraising event on Saturday night to celebrate 12 months in office and to launch the PM O’Neill Foundation.
“After 20 years of hard drinking, eight months is just a start,” he said. “To do this job properly, you don’t want a prime minister waking up with a hangover, when he has to make very tough decisions.”
Asked by Eggins if his ministers were becoming sober like him, O’Neill said: “Many are quite good
“There are a few we have to get across the line.
“We are determined to get them to stop some of their bad habits. ”O’Neill said he was travelling more around the country than previous prime ministers.
“I do it simply because I feel our people have lost touch with government. “My job is to go out there and meet the people, see what the reality on the ground is, communicate with them to fix some of the issues within the community.
“It has been a rewarding exercise for me.”
Such has been the amount of travel that O’Neill has lost count of the provinces, districts, and villages he has visited over the past 12 months.
“I can’t put a figure. “It’s quite a large country, so it’s going to take me five years to see the majority of them.”
He faced immense challenges, including from an internet savvy population that was challenging decisions he made as chief executive officer of PNG Inc.
“Currently, we face more challenges, with a population that is quite well-educated. “People have access to new communication tools that we have never had in the past so the challenges are quite immense.”
******* IPATAS BACKS PM. August 6th 2013********
ENGA Governor, Peter Ipatas has backed Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for signing the deal on asylum seekers.
Mr Ipatas said the asylum seeker deal signed between Australia PM Kevin Rudd and O’Neill is a way forward for PNG.He said PNG as a nation will greatly benefit from the deal.“Critics of this deal are ignoring the immediate benefits of the deal. The opportunities this deal has will open many doors for PNG in the near future,” Mr Ipatas said.
“Manus will get immediate development projects funded both by the Australian and PNG governments.
“Its economy will be boosted with the expansion of the processing centre,” he said.
Mr Ipatas said major projects are underway in the country because of the deal. “Projects like the Angau Hospital redevelopment, upgrading of Madang Highway, rebuilding of infrastructure at universities and building of a lower court complex would have taken years because our government does not have the money to fund all these projects at once.”
“These projects are now all-go with the funding from Australia as priority capital projects under this deal.
“This is a win situation for PNG and our PM should be commended for his foresight,” he said.
Mr Ipatas said Australia had always stood by PNG intimes of need. “It is a proper for PNG to accept a request from Australia to help in addressing the growing global problem of human smuggling and illegal migration.
“Australia has helped us with aid and stood by us for a very long time. “They are our close friend with lots of investments here. By taking the asylum seekers, we are helping deal decisively with major issue.”
****PNG and New Zealand push for closer economic ties. - August 8th****
Prime Minister O’Neill met with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key yesterday at parliament for talks focused on encouraging closer economic cooperation between NZ and PNG.
*****PRIME MINISTER O'NEILL'S SPEECH TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY FUNCTION IN AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND. August 8th 2013****
Opportunities for New Zealand corporate investment in PNG-
When I look at New Zealand’s record over the years I can only applaud your achievement, especially given the fact you have comparatively limited miner resources, unlike Papua New Guinea, and our common neighbour, Australia. I especially applaud your achievements in maintaining a strong and diverse agricultural sector, and especially your highly successful export industries. I also acknowledge your great success in areas such as tourism, and small business development. I note that you have close to 500,000 small businesses and enterprises. Papua New Guinea has just 40, 000, yet our population is significant greater than yours!
In considering what I am about to say, I hope you will appreciate that we must “grow” our own small business sector – and I am very happy for that growth to include partnerships, joint ventures, and other arrangements with overseas small businesses, including those from New Zealand. We need to lift the level of participation of our own people in our economy. That cannot come through a larger public sector – our public sector is too large already!
It must come through a stronger, more diversified private sector. And I again want to stress – New Zealand investment that partners with our businesses and industries will be warmly welcomed. I now want to outline the industry sectors we seek investment in – and the list will resonate with you I am sure. We need investment in areas that help us to diversify our economy and our private sector in particular. I worry that we have become too reliant on our mining sector – and mining services areas that flow from it. When the mining sector faces a down turn due to factors beyond our control – as is happening now – we are very exposed. We need more investment in mining, and new minerals, but we have to diversity. Investment in our gas sector is growing. We need more, and especially in downstream processing and bi-product development. But perhaps the most urgent need we have is for new investment in agriculture and livestock, and the processing of agriculture.
The best hope we have to enable our people participate more in our economy is through the revitalisation and expansion of farming – and farming that produces the food the Asian region needs. I want to encourage your agricultural sector – farming and processing – to look at helping us really lift agricultural production. My government will help provide the more efficient infrastructure farmers, processors and exporters need. We will assist our farmers in other ways such as improved crop productivity. The second area we welcome participation in is tourism. Your success in tourism is admirable – and enviable. We want to learn from it – and we want you tourism industry to participate in delivering on its potential. The third area you have had great success in is fisheries. Our fisheries, and fish and seafood processing, have experienced good growth. But it needs to grow more – and be diversified more. We have a large number of communities that are in the coasts. Developing their fishing and marine products industries makes sense. The other area I know you have had real success is in training – especially training for small business and enterprise. Our training centre has been neglected for too long. We need to correct that without delay – and we need the investment and contribution of your training sector as we do so.
To summarise for you:
Our relationship with New Zealand has grown and diversified since our Independence. New Zealand has been a good regional friend. We have admired your regional leadership. We are playing a stronger regional role as well. We believe we have a responsibility to do so when it comes to regional challenges such as people trafficking and border security.
But my message today is that Papua New Guinea has never been more attractive when it comes to investment, doing business in, and trading with. We welcome more New Zealand investment – and we will work in harmony with investors, and with our own private sector, to make that investment successful…and successful in every way.
****SPEECH FROM PRIME MINISTER O'NEILL IN NEW ZEALAND. - August 8th 2013*****
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – A STRONG ECONOMY, AND A SOUND INVESTMENT CLIMATE
I know I am biased, and proudly biased, when it comes to this, but I can assure you there has never been a better time to invest in Papua New Guinea, to trade with Papua New Guinea, and do business with Papua New Guinea.
Why I believe this is the right time:
• We have the strongest and most secure level of political stability since out independence.
• We are enjoying real GDP growth that is the envy of many countries, including countries far more developed than we are.
• We have sound fiscal management in place, with spending directed towards the right “mix” of delivering basic services, and providing the economic infrastructure needed to secure long term and broadly based growth.
• We are resource rich, and rich in the resources the Asia-Pacific region needs, such as minerals, natural gas, marine resources and agriculture.
• And we are really focussed on addressing the few impediments that exist to the right investment and business climate, such as reducing crime, fighting corruption and addressing infrastructure costs, including power and transport.
I believe the key fundamental for investment, and for strong and widely shared economic growth, especially in a developing country such as ours, is a long-term political stability. We have delivered that in spades, and we will enhance it even further in the coming months.
Our Government will put time into getting service delivery right, including the decentralisation of the actual decision making and delivery means so the seven million people of Papua New Guinea get basic health and education services, and support to participate more in our economy. A stable political environment also means we can robustly address the real challenges we face – and which is a less secure political environment are often put into the too hard basket.
These challenges include crime, and especially crime against our women, which is unacceptably high and are a real blight on our society.
Another challenge our stable political climate enables us really tackle is corruption.
It is important we don’t exaggerate the extent of corruption, particularly involving major investment areas. But it is a problem – and we simply have to reduce it to the greatest possible extent. By the end of the year we will have in place an independent and well-resourced anti-corruption commission. The best way to fight corruption is to make detection and successful prosecution more probable.
Our stable political climate also allows investors, current and potential, to make investment decisions with confidence. It also enables my government to create and grow the economic climate – and run a sound fiscal environment – sure in the knowledge that we have the parliamentary backing to do so. Turning to our economic position, I am happy to tell you that our GDP growth this year will be 6.1 per cent – up from the projected 4 per cent we outlined in the 2013 budget. We have contained inflation better that we had projected – down from 8 per cent to 5.6 per cent. But we need to work hard to lower it even further in a challenging world environment. We have also seen welcome rises in employment, including in the non-mining sector, but the reality is that far too many school leavers cannot secure employment, or otherwise productively participate in our economy.
But it must be driven by the right “mix” – attracting major investment in areas such as mining and gas, and growing our small business sector, and medium size enterprises. Within a year we will begin exporting liquid natural gas (LNG) and that will provide a massive lift in GDP (over 20 per cent in 2015) and export income. It will also provide strong revenue inflows into the national government. We need to manage record short-term growth wisely – because once the construction phase of our first gas project concludes, and it is already scaling down, we will be presented with the reality that jobs will decline sharply. We must look at how we can encourage job growth in other areas, and new investment in the gas sector, including bi-product development, and downstream processing. We must also look at how we can maximise job creation in areas where we have probably tended to wave projects through the approval process without giving adequate attention to employment and training.
Let me summarise the points I have made:
We have strong political stability; we have a growing economy; we have government spending largely under control, and we are focussing on the priorities of delivering services that improve living standards and opportunity; and we are addressing obstacles such as crime, and corruption.
******Prime Minister O'Neill - the worst is over. August 12th 2013 ******
The best years are ahead of Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill declared in New Zealand’s capital Wellington yesterday. Addressing Victoria University, he gave a summary of the activities of his government since it attained office following last year’s general election.
“Growing at 8%, PNG is among the fastest growing in the world,” O’Neill said.
“GDP is expected to double over the next few years and double again. Debt is below 30% of GDP and interest rate is maintained at 6%.”
He said in the short time he had been in government, there had been a huge move to rebuild institutions of the State, government and its failing infrastructure.
Some 30% of the budget was allocated for education and 20% for health, plus 30% for infrastructure. He said the balance was put into growing the economy and providing a safe and secure society for citizens.
This had taken much time but he is confident that the worst was over. “PNG is in a good place. The best is ahead of us,” he said. He was at the university to witness the signing of a unique memorandum of understanding that committed the Government and the Victoria University to supporting a steady stream of doctoral students to the university.
He reminded the audience that the Government’s efforts were not without risks and warned that global economic conditions, particularly to do with commodity prices which PNG depended heavily on a stable and secure government and good governance issues in country, had the capacity to undermine the gains so far.
He said this explained the recent moves to amend the Constitution in certain places such as the provisions to do with motions of no confidence.
O’Neill was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato, Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko and Western Governor Ati Wobiro. After opening the renovated PNG High Commission chancery, he flew to Auckland where he was due to meet business leaders in the afternoon.
*****PM O’NEILL CONGRATULATES INDONESIA ON 64th CONSTITUTION ANNIVERSARY. August 13th 2013*******
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has congratulated the government and people of Indonesia in celebrating their National Day.
The Prime Minister in his letter dated August 8, 2013 to his Indonesian counterpart, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on behalf of the government and people of PNG conveyed the nation’s warm and sincere congratulations to the Government and people of the Republic of Indonesia on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of your country’s Independence Day.
“As marked by our recent bilateral meeting in Jakarta which your Government and people graciously hosted, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are committed to forging a new Comprehensive partnership that will see our efforts and commitments increased to elevating this new stage in our relationship,” O’Neill said. O’Neill said our two countries have come a long way since Independence and with the experiences and lessons learnt, it will no doubt help our two young and vibrant nations continue to grow.
“Our two countries’ share common developmental challenges and I applaud Indonesia for taking a leading role in the region and at the international stage in finding ways to addressing issues such as strengthening of democracy in the region and the fight against human smuggling.”
“I look forward to meeting you at the forth coming APEC Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) and the Leaders Summit to which Indonesia will play host towards strengthening our new partnership.”
“Once again, congratulations to the Government and people of Indonesia on this wonderful occasion.”
******PM O’NEILL MEETS WITH NZ FOREIGN MINISTER. - August 13th 2013 ******
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill today (13/08/13) met New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, at the Airways Hotel in Port Moresby, to discuss various matters of mutual benefits. Mr McCully’s delegation which comprise of NZ parliamentarians from both sides is here to discuss trade and investment opportunities in PNG and the Bougainville restoration program. Prime Minister O’Neill said he was grateful for New Zealand’s warm hospitality during his official State visit to New Zealand last week and welcomed the delegation to PNG.
He briefed them on the Government’s positive intervention on Bougainville, where K100 million was given to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in 2011, for its rehabilitation programs. “The PNG Government also gave another K100 million in 2012 to be managed by the PNG Government and ABG to fund the implementation of key infrastructure projects on Bougainville, including the Arawa-Buka re-sealing and the reconstruction of the Buka ring road,” Mr O’Neill said. On law and order, he said the government was already in the process of revitalizing the Bomana Police College to train 1000 police officers every year.
“New Zealand has agreed to provide the police college with some assistance in training. It has also agreed to support us in restoring the Joint Services College (Igam) in Lae,” Mr O’Neill said. He said the Government also welcomed New Zealand’s offer to assist in trade and investment matters, particularly in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), given its experience. During his official visit to New Zealand, Mr O’Neill paid tribute to the soldiers who fought in the bloody battle of Kokoda during WWII, addressed the Victoria University of Wellington and officially opened the renovated PNG Chancery in Wellington. He also paid a courtesy call on the Opposition Leader, David Shearer.
******PNG has not agreed to resettle all asylum seekers. August 17th 2013*****
Papua New Guinea has denied the two central elements of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's tough new asylum-seeker policy - that PNG will settle all those determined to be refugees and that none will end up in Australia.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says he has not agreed to settle all asylum seekers who are found to be refugees after processing on Manus Island and that Australia will need to take back a share of them.
''There is no agreement that all genuine refugees will be settled in PNG,'' Mr O'Neill told The Saturday Age.
He said PNG would work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to engage with other countries willing to take part in resettling those refugees.
''That includes Australia, New Zealand and all the other countries who are signatories to the UN conventions on refugees,'' he said.
He said he believed Australia had an annual quota to settle about 20,000 refugees. ''Under that process, they will get some and New Zealand has indicated they would take some.''
Mr O'Neill's stand came as the federal opposition toughened its refugee policy, announcing that it would deny the right of asylum seekers to appeal against negative assessments by courts.
It would also retrospectively apply its tough temporary protection visa scheme to more than 30,000 people already in Australia awaiting refugee assessment decisions.
Mr Rudd insisted during the election debate last Sunday evening that there was ''one simple principle'' in his new regime under which all asylum seekers arriving by boat are now being diverted to PNG and would be settled there.
But Mr O'Neill said that while PNG was willing to help with resettling refugees, it could only take ''our quota''.
Mr O'Neill also derided federal opposition claims that Australia risked another major asylum-seeker influx after two Somalis were apprehended last week entering Australia from western PNG via the Torres Strait.
Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused the government of opening ''another front'' for asylum seekers and legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said: ''Once you spring a leak, it's not very long before it's a torrent.''
Mr O'Neill said the comments were ''ridiculous'' and there was no evidence that significant numbers of refugees were seeking to use PNG as a pathway to Australia. ''It is certainly an overreaction,'' he said.
Mr O'Neill said many Papua New Guineans had been offended by much of the debate and media commentary in Australia about the asylum seeker deal, which depicted the country as a dangerous ''hell-hole''.
He said PNG was happy to help Australia try to solve its asylum seeker problem, but was not obliged to. ''We can easily walk away from it and allow Australia to deal with it,'' he said.
Mr O'Neill said the new policy appeared to be working. It was slowing the number of boat arrivals and many of the asylum seekers already sent to Manus, predominantly single Iranian men, were indicating they wanted to return home.
''From early indications there are not too many genuine refugees among those who are coming. They are economic migrants and many of them want to go home,'' he said.
*****Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O'Neill's visit to Maopa Village, Aroma Coast, Central Province on Friday. - August 19th ******
****** Govt focused on improving health service. August 20th 2013 *******
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has assured people of Maopa in Abau, Central, better health services. He told them last Friday that many people were needlessly dying all over the country for want of better health services. “That can be resolved by ensuring that we provide better medical care,” O’Neill said. He made the assurance to the people living in this difficult part of Papua New Guinea, despite being so close to Port Moresby, through the government’s K1.4 billion allocation to health. “Our government, for the first time, is putting in close to K1.4 billion to health.
“Last year, when we formed government, we made it our business that we would fund the 10-year plan produced by the Health Department. “Maopa, just like many other parts of the country, does not receive regular supplies of medicine, does not have nurses and doctors. “We are building health centres, aid posts, and referral hospitals, right around the country. “Over the next five to 10 years, Papua New Guinea is going to be a better place.”
*****SIR MANASUPE OUTLINES IMPORTANCE OF AUDIT COMMITTEES. August 22nd 2013*****
Chief Secretary to Government and Acting Finance Secretary, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, yesterday (21/08/13) outlined the roles and purpose of having Audit Committees, particularly in the Government System. He verified the importance of establishing such committees and applauded the Office of Higher Education (OHE) for its swift progress. He made these remarks during the launching of the OHE Audit Committee at the Mutual Rumana office complex in Port Moresby, where the Minister for Higher Education, David Aurore, was present to officially launch the committee’s establishment. Sir Manasupe said the audit functions are important management tools, which strengthens the process of maintaining accountability. As a requirement under Section 9 of the Public Finances (Management) Act, the Department of Finance is now encouraging the establishment of internal audit functions and audit committees in all government agencies. “Under OHE, the committee will be made up of five members, and will include the Director-General of OHE, Professor David Kavanamur; Auditor-General; the Secretary for Finance and two members of the public. “The reason why this government has chosen to include two members of the community is simply to demonstrate our aim to encourage transparency and accountability throughout the audit process,” he said. Sir Manasupe said this process of auditing government departments has always been around and is not something the O’Neill-Dion Government is implementing. “Just like any other legitimate processes that already exist, governments have continued to fail to implement and adhere to them for many years. “This Government also encourages the establishment of work plans to assist managements in mitigating unwanted risks and improve operational effectiveness within the agency,” Sir Manasupe said.He further applauded the Internal Revenue Commission for its excellent audit record and urged other State Departments, Agencies and Statutory Bodies to strive to do the same.