**** Days numbered for those in corrupt deals. December 1st 2013 ****
THE Lands Department will no longer give out titles to foreigners, according to the Lands Review Act 2006 to be tabled in Parliament next year.
This was revealed on thursday by Lands Minister Benny Allan and secretary Romilly Kila-Pat at a media conference in Port Moresby.Allan said the department would be clamping down on officers engaged in fraudulent activities and get rid of them.He said some senior officers had been suspended pending investigation into alleged corrupt deals.“I am warning those officers who are still doing corrupt deals in the department that their days are numbered,” he said.“We will really be tough on you if we catch you. The investigation team will be doing their task in all the provinces and will be doing a report.”He said officers from the department had been issuing land titles to foreigners and even locals without his knowledge. He said the Land and Geographical Information System project would ensure that proper and legal procedures were followed in all land transactions.He said the system would alert authorities if it detected any problem or if an application had not been filled correctly.He said landowners could partner with foreignersor allow foreigners to do business on their land. But locals were not allowed to sell their land to foreigners.“We cannot become spectators on our own land but make business out of our own land,” Allan said.
**** National Court lifts injunction preventing the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance and dismisses the judicial review application by Paul Paraka Lawyers ****
On the 6 November 2009, the then Prime Minister received the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance. At the next Parliamentary session on the 4 March 2010, the then Prime Minister tabled the Report and announced that the Government was taking immediate action to implement the recommendations in the Report and an implementation team, overseen by the Chief Secretary to Government had already been established. Some of the parties named in the Report obviously had a lot to fear. Almost immediately, desperate actions were taken to prevent the implementation of the recommendations.
On the on the 6 March 2010, the National Court granted Zachary Gelu and Paul Paraka Lawyers an interim injunction that restrained the State (which included the Chief Secretary and all public servants) from implementing, discussing, debating or giving effect to the recommendations contained in the report pending an application for judicial review.
The State was outraged by these actions and has worked tirelessly over the last three years to have the injunction lifted. Finally on the 29 November 2013, the National Court lifted the injunction and dismissed the application for judicial review.
This means the State is now free to implement the recommendations contained in the report and take action against those who perpetrated these frauds.
Work has already started, those people named in the report are being referred to Task Force Sweep and the lawyers implicated have been referred to the Law Society of PNG. Significant reform has already been undertaken within the Department of Finance and Department of Justice to ensure that these sorts of frauds never happen again.
New procedures are now being implemented by the Department of Finance and Department of Justice to ensure only valid judgement debts are paid and that legal work is properly tendered and awarded to ensure value for money. There is no more easy money to be paid by defrauding the state.
**** Kulunga happy with officers’ programme. December 2nd 2013 ****
Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga is happy with the progress of the constabulary’s senior leadership development programme which enters its final phase today at the Bomana Police College.
Senior police officers from around the country will be in Port Moresby for the final assessment phase of the programme.
“The senior leadership programme is very important for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary as it helps us prepare the future leadership of the constabulary,” Kulunga said.
“We have identified young officers, both men and women, and nurtured them over the last six months to take up senior leadership responsibilities within the constabulary in the near future.”
The officers have during the six-month programme been required to research a current issue and to prepare two project papers. They are required as part of their assessment to present their projects in a public forum. These presentations will take place at the Grand Papua Hotel on Thursday.The forum, to be chaired by Kulunga, will be open to everyone. The presentations will cover a wide variety of topics and challenges for the RPNGC and for the safety and security of the community. The participants were asked to attempt to identify solutions and encouraged to be innovative and creative in recommending changes for the RPNGC. The senior leadership development programme is a joint initiative of the RPNGC and the Australian Federal Police through the Papua New Guinea policing partnership, with the Australian Institute of Police Management.
**** Port Moresby embarks on K800m road project. December 2nd 2013 ****
Port Moresby has embarked on a massive roads development which will cost up to K800 million, according to city manager Leslie Alu.It includes the:
- K318 million four-lane arterial road from the Poreporena Freeway to Nine-Mile to be built by the China Harbour Engineering;
- K160 million flyover from Kookaburra Street to Erima to be constructed by Hawkins;
- K84 million roads in the Gordon industrial area to be done by Global;
- K77 million four-lane road from Erima to Nine-Mile to be built by Dekenai;
- K62 million road from Six-Mile to Jackson Airport to be carried out by Hebou;
- K52 million Paga Ring road by Curtain Brothers.
Work is progressing at the Gordon industrial centre, Erima to Nine-Mile, Six-Mile to Jackson Airport and the Paga Ring Road.Alu said the environmental permit received from the Department of Environment and Conservation last Friday would fast track the loan approval from the Exim Bank of China for the four-lane arterial road from Poreporena Freeway to Nine-Mile.The construction of the flyover from Kookaburra Street to Erima will start next month.“We haven’t found out whether the Exim Bank has approved the loan,” Alu said.“As soon as they receive the environmental permit, the process will continue. It’s one of the conditions for approving the loan.”Alu said contractor Hawkins already had the plan for the Kookaburra Street to Erima flyover.“Hawkins has already started on Kookaburra Street,” he said.“They’ve just completed geo-technical studies. They’ve already got preliminary drawings of what it should look like.”Alu is keeping his fingers crossed that these two projects will be ready in time for the 2015 Pacific Games.“The only concern us the Kookaburra road, but I think it will be done in time for the Games.”
**** PM O'Neill APEC Interview. December 2nd 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill had an interview with the APEC Media Director David Hendrickson. He told David Hendrickson, that the Government is very much focussed on increasing our trade and investment with the rest of the world to enable a better standard of living for our people. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill also said the 2018 APEC summit in PNG will enable and encourage global leaders to experience PNG first hand and what it has to offer. He said PNG has so much to offer and is in its planning stages of preparing for this international event. PNG is in very detailed planning phase to make the 2018 APEC Summit a global success by building new infrastructure to support such an important occasion in PNG history. "I am more than certain that we will host this summit successfully just like other countries have previously," Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said.
**** PSC plan aims to deliver services. December 3rd 2013 ****
Public Service Commission’s newly launched corporate plan will include the amalgamation of the commission with the secretariat, says newly appointed chairman Dr Philip Kereme.
He said this was one of the major initiatives included in the third five-year corporate plan which would look at providing efficient service delivery to the people.
During the launching of the program at Holiday Inn last Friday, Dr Kereme said this plan would be the guiding tool in providing direction for the commission to deliver efficient service to the people. "The plan will ensure enhanced innovations and transformation within the public service through excellent leadership, fair treatment of all public servants, thus promoting fundamental principles and values of good governance," said Dr Kereme.
He said the 2014-2018 corporate plan focused on two main pillars under the Vision 2050 which were institutional development , service delivery, human capital development, gender, and youth and people empowerment.
He explained that much of that which was contained in the plan was the carry on over from the last plan, including certain identified projects.
"We hope to further improve PSC’s operational performance in the next five year," Dr Kereme said. He said he was confident that this plan would ensure the commission was in the right direction to contribute to a more effective and efficient public service, and at the same time promote the credibility, professional image and confidence in the public service system in the country. He said crucially important was the leverage, dedication and commitment required of all PSC staff and the commission members in taking ownership of this corporate plan.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill officially opening the PNG Petroleum Seminar at the Crowne Plaza Hotel this morning, where urged Petroleum companies to work closely with the National Government to enable electrification projects to all urban, rural areas and empower downstream processing to add value to our economy and our people's lives. PNG is a very sound country for investment which has missed many opportunities in the past 12 years. This Government will not let you down by missing or mismanaging these important petroleum opportunities again. December 3rd 2013 ****
**** Government wants financial reports. December 3rd 2013 ****
THE National Government will be cracking down hard on departments and provincial Governments to furnish their 2013 financial reports or miss out on appropriations for next year.
Finance Minister James Marape said it was a tough call but Government departments and provincial Governments must be held accountable by the people of this country.
He said 2013 was a K13 billion deficit budget, and the nation needed to know what had happened to the money appropriated to each of the sectors.
"As far as Finance and Treasury is concern, we have released warrants to all the sectors, so as a responsible national agency, we are now closing in on all institutions of state and we are asking them during December and January period you tell us what you have done with the money that we have given you then we will be open for business in 2014," Mr Marape said.
"It is a hard call as many Government agencies are not used to this kind of call but Prime Minister is very clear on this, I am clear on this and my secretary as chief accountant is very clear on this one.
"We want your report to come in, that report will be a public document, where any citizen of this country if they want to ask what this department has done, then the departmental head and the department can be held against that report.
"It’s about time the State goes into doing this. Every business they do this every year they close the year with a financial report so why can’t we as Government do this. We cannot say it’s hard. "If we do not make this tough call, money will disappear and we will not know what has happened.
"I have even told Government caucus that by next year you give me record of what you have received, for example the JDP and BPC of Wau-Bulolo have received K4 million.
"I expect that report to come back to us to tell us this is what we spent and that is an important prerequisite for them to receive fund for 2014."
Minister Marape said all Government departments, agencies, provincial and district Governments were required to furnish their financial reports, a prerequisite for funding in 2014.
He also said the Government was also shortening the close of accounts from December to early January and accounts to open for business by mid-January.
"We will be open for business in mid-January instead of close of accounts for up to March. "It’s unnecessarily one or two months doing nothing, so we want to have a very short close of accounts and in the close of account period we want every government agency to give your financial report of what you have done."
**** Marape assures districts of funding. December 3rd 2013 ****
ALL 89 districts throughout the country will be receiving their K10 million budgets under the District Services Improvement (DSIP) program.
Finance Minister James Marape assured the people and members of Parliament that the K10 million earmarked for each district will be in the districts before the conclusion of this year. The Tari-Pori MP and Leader of Government Business gave the assurance after being criticised by the Opposition leader Belden Namah and his deputy and Bulolo MP Sam Basil of the bias by the Government in disbursing DSIP funding. The two opposition members claimed that members of the opposition had so far received K1 million while the Government members received their K10 million.
Minister Marape said that DSIP was a Government development grant to all districts and not a constitutional grant. He said at the close of Parliament for this year all districts should have received a minimum of K4 million, with a few receiving between K6 m - to K7 m and only one district receiving the full K10 million.
"Let me give assurance to the people of Wau-Bulolo and Vanimo-Green, Kundiawa-Gembogl and people of Rabaul, and all the other districts in the country whether its through National Government disbursement or district Government disbursement the total of what is earmarked for those districts will go out,’’ he said.
"The Opposition Leader and his deputy accused me that they received K1 million but my record shows that K4 million has gone to their districts. They spend too much time in Singapore and Malaysia and do not know what is happening in their own districts."
Mr Marape said some Opposition members have joined Government not because of DSIP but they were not happy at the current leadership and how it had been run.
"By the end of this year, K10 million earmarked for every district will be disbursed,’’ he said.
*** Marape: I am working with police probe. December 3rd 2013 ****
Finance Minister James Marape has denied rumours that he was arrested over the weekend but admitted going to the police fraud squad office to assist police in their investigations.
The Tari-Pori MP and Leader of Government Business told a media conference yesterday that last Friday he went to the fraud squad office in relation to matters now before the courts. He refused to go into details of the matter as it was now sub judice.
"Let me make it clear that everyone of us at Finance Department and Finance Ministry are subject to the investigation that is taking place," Mr Marape said.
He said the Chief Secretary and suspended Secretary Stephen Gibson all went before police and Taskforce Sweep investigations just like every other responsible officer and himself as Minister to give additional information and confirm their previous statements to police.
"We have not been arrested but we are working with police to provide the information they need to aid and assist them in regards to matters that are before the police and sweep team," Mr Marape said.
"We in Finance, me as Minister or acting Secretary or secretaries, we are not here to conceal or hide matters.
"We are here to support the investigation that is sanctioned by government. "If there are any instances where in the course of the investigation and in the course of the work of the police and Sweep team, if one of us is found to be at fault, then, at the completion of this process, then the correct course of action will take place."
He said both he as Minister and the new Acting Secretary were co-operating with the police and furnishing records.
"We welcome the investigations simply because in Finance a lot of times we deal with payments of clients and for us we need to strengthen the system in which legitimate payments must take place,’’ he said.
"We have now looked at the way we have been doing business and this is an opportune time to relook at how we do business."
Mr Marape said key policy standings that he had already announced was that no arrears or claim payments would take place at Vulupindi House.
"Every Government agency must spend within appropriations and contracts must be framed when there is funding available," he said.
"We will be issuing financial instructions for all departments to furnish financial reports for 2013 so we are trying to get into a systematic way of doing simple Government accounting so that we tidy up all our expenditures."
Mr Marape said the case before investigation had brought the department to identify the deficiencies and correct them.
"Public should know that as Government we are not suppressing the investigations."We hold public office and that comes under scrutiny all the time," Mr Marape said.
**** Cocoa and oil palm growing secured. December 3rd 2013 ****
Australia and Papua New Guinea have signed off on a new project addressing rising food insecurity amongst smallholder cocoa and oil palm farmers in PNG. The four year research project is a partnership between the Cocoa Coconut Institute, Oil Palm Research Association, Curtin University and James Cook University. Funded with AU1.2 million from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the project will work with oil palm communities in Northern and West New Britain provinces, and cocoa communities in East New Britain Province, Milne Bay and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Falling incomes and declining access to land for food gardening from population pressure are growing issues for oil palm growers. Smallholder cocoa growers face the devastating cocoa pod borer, which has significantly reduced people’s capacity to purchase food. The project will aim to gain a detailed socio-economic and cultural understanding of the farming and livelihood systems of smallholders. Based on this information, suitable interventions will be developed and evaluated to relieve the stresses on farming systems and improve smallholder food and income security. Strategies will include income diversification to enable people to purchase food and strategies to improve access to land for food gardening such as rotational replanting of cocoa and wider avenue spacing of oil palm to enable intercropping with food crops. Intercropping of cocoa and oil palm with food crops will contribute directly to food security through higher production. Incomes and income security will be enhanced through income diversification and gardening on land over which people hold secure tenure. Environmental benefits will be achieved by alleviating the need to garden in environmentally sensitive lands. Improved extension using new technologies to assist cocoa growers switch from a foraging to farming production strategy should lead to significant increases in income. Some farmers who have made the transition are achieving yields more than double what they did before the cocoa pod borer hit PNG.
**** City plans plastic bag ban. December 3rd 2013 ****
Port Moresby plans to ban the use of plastic bags in the city, following the successful campaign against beetle nut sale and consumption. City manager Leslie Alu and Department of Environment and Conservation secretary Gunther Joku agree that plastic bag should be banned in Port Moresby. Alu and Joku support the plastic bag ban proposed by National Capital District Govenor Powes Parlop. "We (NCDC) support the idea," Alu said. "We've started the buai ban and the image of the city is very clean."
"We'd like to support the Department of Environment and Conservation with the ban of non-biodegradable plastic bags. Our legal section will be working with their legal section so we can place a ban on plastics in the city. "What we'd like to do is to go out for at least three months, carrying out an awareness campaign, and say that all plastics will be banned in the city and that only bio-degradable plastics will be used." Joku said a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags was already in place but certain companies continued to bring these in.
"We have a regulation drawn up under the Environmental Act prohibiting the manufacture and importing of non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags," he said. " We're only targeting plastic shopping bags. "In PNG, we have about eight or nine manufacturing companies specialising in shopping bags. Since we started the plastic bags campaign, we've moved to biodegradable plastic bags, and we have told them to start producing bio-degradable plastic shopping bags. "The importation is our big issue now. They are still bringing in non-biodegradable. "The only way for us to regulate is for anybody who wants to import to come and obtain environmental permit from us. All the maritime provinces are potential areas for these imports to come through."
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill is leading the way. December 3rd 2013 ****
PAPUA New Guinea's most powerful Prime Minister since independence, Peter O'Neill - who has won the backing of 104 of the 111 members of parliament - has come under fire in recent weeks, especially on social media, over the government's aggressive management style.
However, "We are leading the way," he tells Inquirer in an interview in his parliamentary office. "And in PNG there is a lot of story-telling without facts.
"There has been some apprehension in the community at large because of the new level of enthusiasm we brought. That's now starting to rub off. The public is responding well; they can see new infrastructure and free health and education, and discipline coming back into the disciplined services."
And a new Asian-style model for development is emerging through Government businesses.
Fifteen months after the election, O'Neill acknowledges his team could do better, and anticipates his first ministerial reshuffle."Everybody now knows there's a light at the end of the tunnel, which can be reached if we work together," he says. "Over the next four to five years you'll find the country in better shape."
The Government is communicating with Asia better, he says, which is providing his new development template. And it's engaging well with Australia, too. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill says his Government has developed "a good working relationship with the new Abbott Government - and we had already established a friendship with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. All in all, it's got off to a good start."
The Government "is receptive to Australian aid being recast in line with our own priorities - education, health and infrastructure. There must be some visibility in the projects that Australia is involved in, with infrastructure being the key."
Tony Abbott has been invited to visit, which Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill expects will happen early next year. The men have already met several times, on the sidelines of other meetings in the region. Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato will lead PNG's team for the annual Joint Ministerial Forum, which will be held in Canberra on December 11.
Greater involvement of the PNG, and especially Manus, business communities in the asylum-seeker centre will be one issue that Pato will take up, says O'Neill - as will concerns about spying.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill says: "This must be resolved with some level of certainty" at the forum.
"We know that this might be happening, but it would certainly be a breach of trust. Among friends, this is not necessary. If there are issues to be discussed, all they have to do is pick up the phone and give us a call, as they do on many other matters. Under our laws, it is illegal to tap phones, a serious criminal matter."
The PNG Prime Minister details how the Government has embarked on a new economic direction for the country - one that follows the more state-directed path of many Asian countries.
He admires Government-owned conglomerates such as Singapore's investment house, Temasek, with $190 billion in assets, and Malaysia's resources corporation Petronas, with $175bn. He says: "In countries like ours, where the economy is not fully developed, but with a fast-growing population and high youth unemployment, we need to create industries that will engage them more fully. Other countries around the world have taken that approach."
O'Neill points out that Peru and Chile also have major mining companies that are fully owned by the state. "As long as we create a business model which is managed outside the public service structure, and governance issues are addressed properly, the opportunity will yield good returns for our country." Several Asian countries, he says, "have succeeded economically with very limited resources. We have an abundance. Our only problem has been our management of them".
"If we structure well, there is no reason why we shouldn't succeed as they have done, with professional managements and independent boards, and an ability to achieve global branding." PNG has two trains of liquefied natural gas under way via the $19.5bn ExxonMobil-led project coming on stream next year, and O'Neill expects the gas resources controlled by Interoil to provide a further two trains. And a deal is moving closer whereby Interoil will obtain a major international partner; probably by Christmas, O'Neill expects.
This would create an LNG hub in PNG almost the size of Australia's North West Shelf, which has five gas trains.
The Government is putting an increased focus on small and medium-sized firms, he says, "trying to get Papua New Guineans into business".
He concedes that "many will feel that focus may lead to the displacement of foreign interests in certain sectors. But it's not an issue about national content or local ownership or nationalisation of interests".
O'Neill says there has been "deliberate misinformation about this peddled by some of our critics, especially in the background of the Ok Tedi mine takeover" with the Government acquiring - so far without compensation - the 63.4 per cent owned by PNG Sustainable Development Program, a trust established when BHP-Billiton left.
O'Neill says: "We're not taking over the interests of foreign investors as such in Ok Tedi. We are just rearranging the structure so we can maximise returns for our own stakeholders, as any company would do."
The Prime Minister reveals he is moving to create a national content framework for media in PNG, linked with a required level of local participation.
National daily newspapers the Post-Courier (majority owned by News Corp, owner of The Weekend Australian, but with 30 per cent local ownership) and The National, broadcaster EM TV and several FM radio stations are foreign-owned.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill says: "We are holding discussions with stakeholders, which we are trying to conclude by the next parliament sitting in February. It's an open discussion, not something we are forcing on to people. It's not uncommon around the world."
The public sector has been "a bit slow in responding to the demands which the economy is placing on them. So we're bringing more people from the private sector into the public service, recruiting new people, and now the focus is there. We're been able to achieve some level of delivery in 2013, but in 2014 there will be a substantial increase in projects on the ground."
PNG is establishing an Asian-style free-trade zone in east Sepik to attract large-scale agricultural investment, in which government and landowners will also participate. And it has agreed with Indonesia to develop jointly their border zone.
O'Neill laments that "personality attacks have been coming from people with nothing to offer the nation - using social media to put out untruths against which we can't easily defend ourselves.
"Some is sourced from political enemies, and we know where that's coming from. They are determined to derail stable government, and are also trying to compromise sections of the police force and the military. So these are very dangerous people for our country."
But he insists: "They won't deter me from doing my job. In fact, it just goes to show I am on the right path. If I upset a few people along the way, as long as the majority know I'm putting the country on the right path to the development it deserves, I need make no apology to anyone."
**** PRIME MINISTER HON PETER O'NEILL - GOVERNMENT IS VERY MUCH FOCUSSED ON PRIORITIES. December 3rd 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill says the Government is fully focused on increasing Papua New Guinea’s trade and investment opportunities in the world markets.
He made this statement during an interview with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Media Manager, David Hendrickson, at this Parliament Office in Port Moresby early this week. “As the largest Pacific Island country, we look forward to sharing our experiences and natural resources with our neighbours. “Since PNG has a vibrant economy, the future is looking very good for us,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
He said this Government wants to ensure the future is right for our young men and women and we can assure you, we are heading in the right direction. “This Government is very much focused on increasing trade and investment with the rest of the world and other APEC member countries to enable quality standard of living. The APEC Community can do more in taking the lead to address the issues of climate change appropriately and provide sustainable measures for the these islands.
Like the European Union, we are further encouraged to receiving preferential treatment in the international markets.
“This Government aims to improve our access to the world markets – and that is one of the most important things to us.
He told Mr Hendrickson, that the Government is very much focussed on increasing our trade and investment with the rest of the world to enable a better standard of living for our people.
The Prime Minister also said the 2018 APEC summit in PNG will enable and encourage global leaders to experience PNG first hand. He said PNG has so much to offer and is in its planning stages of preparing for this international event.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said PNG is in very detailed planning phase to make the 2018 APEC Summit by building many new infrastructures."I am more than certain that we will host this summit successfully just like other countries have previously," he said.
**** ADDRESS BY PRIME MINISTER, HON PETER O’NEILL CMG MP, PNG PETROLEUM & MINING SEMINAR, PORT MORESBY, TUESDAY 3 DECEMBER 2013. ****
“TRANSFORMING THE ECONOMY – THE GAS ERA”
I wish to thank the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum for inviting me to open the first of two important resource sector seminars being held this week.
I am told by the Chamber that the attendance at both seminars is well and truly up with expectations. I welcome you – and I especially welcome overseas industry participants to Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea. Both the petroleum and the mining seminars are being held at an important time for both sectors in Papua New Guinea.
While I will focus my comments on the oil and gas sectors, some of my comments will be equally applicable to the mining sector and resources as a whole. I note the theme for this seminar is “Transforming the Economy – the Gas Era”.
It is right on the mark – because the gas era does offer a “once in life time” opportunity to transform the Papua New Guinea economy and lives of our people.
What I want to stress – and focus on is simple. The transformation must deliver the maximum benefits for Papua New Guinea and our seven and half million people. And I do not just mean economic benefits! It must deliver significant, widely shared, social and community benefits as well. That is what I really want to talk to you about today.
Before I do so, let me offer a quick overview.
A STRONG ECONOMY – CAPABLE OF MEETING CHALLENGE AND CHANGE
Last month our 2014 national budget was overwhelmingly passed by our National Parliament. It is a budget for our times – it meets today’s needs and it makes provision for those of tomorrow. It is a deficit budget – because that is what is needed today: And that is what is needed so we can secure our medium to long-term future in a way that is fair, and widely shared.
The petroleum and gas sector is effectively “underwriting” the deficit – and the moderate rise in state debt that entails. You are going to receive presentations on progress on our first LNG export project. It will begin exporting LNG within a year from now.
That will mean in 2015 our GDP will probably be the highest in our region, if not the world – well over 20 per cent. That will begin substantial royalty and other income flows to the government – and benefits for landowners. And the State will over the medium term also benefit from dividends.
The certainty of that enables us to have a modest deficit next year – and to meet the realities of today and tomorrow.
Let me simply say that. Construction sector growth has begun to slow from admittedly very high levels. The construction phase of the LNG project is heading towards completion, and that is having an impact, and is going to have a bigger impact, in 2014.
The fall in key commodity prices – such as gold – has meant a deferral of work on a number of planned new mines, or at least a slowing down in construction work on other projects.
I don’t want to roll out statistics today – you will be getting enough of that in the next couple of days. But there is one from the budget papers that really stands out. This year construction sector growth will be a respectable 11.9 per cent. Next year – and can I remind you that is exactly four weeks away – it is projected to be a NEGATIVE 6.4 per cent.
The Government will help our construction sector – and that means help maintain jobs – by continuing to boost infrastructure spending in 2014. The spending will be on roads, ports, electricity, and creating four economic hubs to prepare ourselves for stronger and broader economic growth in the future.
Without a modest deficit we could not do that while maintaining the improvement in quality of life service delivery areas we are committed to – such as health care, school education and law and order. We believe the budget, an expansionary budget is right for our times – and pave the way for building an even stronger economic for the future.
There is one troubling aspect of our economy you might not see, unless you move beyond Port Moresby and major resource centres.
Around 80 per cent of our people are farmers – subsistence farmers or growers of our export crops….such as coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm oil. And almost without exception they are enduring tough times because low world prices.
That is why non-mining GDP next year is projected to be just 1.6 per cent – a third of what it is this year. The Government has to help our rural majority get through tough times.
Fortunately, the revenue inflows from construction and mining in recent years, and the projected LNG revenues, has enabled the Government to provide free school education for all children, and free basic health care. But we have no alternative but to support our farmers, and our rural sector, in tough times. The budget begins that process – and it steps up our commitment to small to medium enterprise growth across the nation. Let me summarise briefly where we are at.
The budget is sound. It is forward looking. It helps address some immediate needs – and it prepares us for strong future growth. And, I believe, a genuine and wider sharing in that growth among our people and our communities. And that all adds up to a very conducive climate for business, and for current and future investors!
TRANSFORMING THE ECONOMY – THE GAS ERA
That brings me to my central point today – how we can make the theme of this seminar “Transforming the Economy – The Gas Era” a reality.
The National Government is a direct shareholder in the PNG LNG Project, behalf of the people, and landowners. Its development has not been without challenges. But the project is rapidly heading towards completion. And overall it has been a success story, a significant contributor to economic growth, to training and job creation, and to direct and indirect benefits for landowners.
It has also demonstrated to the investment community that Papua New Guinea can deliver a world-class project, with a strong commitment from Government and landowners.
My thoughts, and those of our Ministers, must now turn to the next phase of our petroleum sector development. And I am delighted this seminar has the same focus. It is timely we really focus on the next phase – and even beyond gas for LNG conversion and export.
That is not to rule out or more new LNG plants……but I read the reports on trends in the global gas sector and they tell me that LNG exporting is going to be more challenging in the future than it is already.
The message I take from that is not to give up on future LNG plants – but to move in partnership with gas sector tenement holders and potential investors to diversity, and to maximise to the greatest extent possible the economic and social benefits that will flow from future projects.
Our Government is in process of setting up a separate company to manage our equity and participation in the gas sector – Kumul Petroleum, with a separate company Kumul Minerals to manage our equity in the mining sector.
This is designed to separate our investment so the focus is not confused or conflicted. I don’t want us to be a “passive” investor in the projects we hold equity in on behalf of the nation. I want us to be a pro-active and constructive participant in the companies and projects we have equity in.
That is what we have charged Kumul Petroleum and Kumul Minerals with doing.
The Government will be a participant in new projects – that is not socialism, it is common sense! And it is what our laws provide for, and our people expect. But the Government must stop just being a passive participant.
It has to use its position on the boards of companies to bring projects online sooner, and do so in a way that is consistent with our policies, and delivers the best outcomes for all stakeholders…..including shareholders and landowners.
I want investors to see the Government’s participation as a benefit, a security, and a significant strength. That all means our directors and representatives have to be more professional, and more competent. And won’t that be a good thing for everyone? Let me briefly outline a few “priority areas” for the next and future phases of our petroleum sector development.
We must have maximum diversification. We cannot rely on LNG alone, important and valuable though it is. We must ensure the next phase of our petroleum sector development includes stranded gas development that can meet domestic power and energy needs, and industry development in our regions, and especially in less developed regions.
And industry and Government must work together to attract significant investment in down-stream processing industries, and high energy using industries, so we can expand our industrial base……create employment, and boost exports.
In addition to these priority areas, our government will be looking favourably at investors who are prepared to contribute directly and significantly to the communities their resource is located in – such as schools, health centres, and sporting fields and community services.
In future, and it is fair that I give full notice of this - the government will be looking even more favourably at projects that genuinely “value add” – and contribute significantly to developing local communities LONG term….and not just during construction periods.
That means we want long term residential and commercial centres and communities to be developed. We have been very generous in allowing fly in fly out arrangements – as a maturing economy we need to manage that area carefully in the future. And we need to ensure that petroleum sector development genuinely contributes to regional development and the growth of new centres of population. Before I conclude with some remarks on our investment climate, I really want to stress again two points.
The first is that the next phase of gas development must contribute significantly to our government’s commitment to deliver to our cities, towns, and villages affordable electricity – and affordable electricity that can particularly be delivered to villages in as many parts of the nation as possible. I believe that affordable and reliable access to electricity needs to be the next “bench mark” when it comes to improving the living standards of our people – no matter where they live.
And affordable and reliable electricity and energy generally is an essential requirement for the commitment to grow our small to medium enterprise sector to be delivered not only in cities, but in towns and rural communities across Papua New Guinea.
In the medium term, that can be provided by new power generation plants – located in areas close to gas fields, and delivered to communities by modern transmission means that may need to be provided by a partnership between gas resource developers and our own electricity authority, or other private sector providers.
The Government is not expecting gas resource proponents to meet the cost of the delivery of electricity – but we will be expecting domestic gas reservation and conversion to electricity will be a part of new proposals put to us for consideration.
In the budget speech the Minister for Treasury signalled the development of a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) policy. We will do this carefully and learn from the mistakes of others – but I would envisage electricity generation and down-stream processing to “value add” our gas development being early contenders for PPP agreements.
The second point is concerns down-stream processing and value adding. I want all stakeholders in the petroleum sector, and companies interested in getting involved in gas development, to work with the national Government to explore every possible avenue to value add to the development of our high quality and vast natural gas resource.
We did not require a value adding component in the development when we approved the PNG LNG Project. This is a pioneering project – with a very high construction cost – and we were persuaded that every stakeholder, including the Government, would be best served by an initial focus on high volume LNG production for export.
For future projects, I want to see significant down-stream processing and value adding – producing fertiliser and other by-products to meet our domestic needs, and provide new export opportunities....and provide long term training and employment for our people.
As you may be aware, the comprehensive review of our tax regime is under way. It is not about higher taxes – but it is about a modern and relevant taxation regime that will keep Papua New Guinea competitive in an increasingly competitive world. I hope the review will also make recommendations on incentives we might offer investors to encourage down-stream processing. I am open to proposals from current and potential investors on immediate steps we might be able to take not just to encourage exploration and production, but also value adding.
CONCLUSION – A SOUND CLIMATE FOR INVESTMENT
I will be brief – but I hope this is the important message I want to leave with you. Papua New Guinea is a very sound country in which to invest and do business with! Our country has missed many opportunities in the past. Recently I was remind by an old friend of Papua New Guinea, a keen observer of our economy, that PNG for many years missed the opportunity to develop our nation when we exported our first oil in the 90s.
The second opportunity came in the past twelve years when we enjoyed record surpluses, which we failed to convert into real tangible development for our people. Today in this Gas era, is our third and really last opportunity to making a real difference in our people’s lives. We leaders must step up so that we can deliver a sustainable development programme for our people and the Nation. Our public finances are in good shape; Our GDP will continue to be strong by any comparison; We will have a competitive and fair taxation regime for the future; And the national government is addressing the social needs of our people and the infrastructure needs of our economy.
The investment climate, in my view, is as strong as ever – and perhaps stronger than ever. Our Government will keep it that way. And we will manage challenges responsibly. Challenges including the growing desire by our people for greater participation in the economy. After almost forty years of independence and nationhood that is not unexpected – and it is not unreasonable.
We will help facilitate greater involvement by Papua New Guineans in small to medium size enterprises through our 12 point plan, aspects of which the budget funds. And while retailing, hospitality, tourism and commerce will be target areas, we must lift the participation by national entrepreneurs and businesses in the resources sector.
I hope we are close to the day when PNG investors can invest significantly in companies developing our petroleum and mineral resources.If that happens, then public confidence in overseas investment will continue and grow. In conclusion, can I again thank you for showing your interest – and confidence – in Papua New Guinea. I assure you it is very well placed interest and confidence and we will not mismanage this opportunity the Gas Era provides our Nation.
**** Prime Minister O'Neill wants rent costs controlled. December 4th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has written to Public Service Minister to make efforts to save the K200 million wasted on Government office rentals. Prime Minister O’Neill also made recommendations for an audit into the operations and management and a restructure of office leases. Prime Minister O’Neill in his letter said "current the land lease arrangements are totally in favor of the landlords and rates are far too excessive. As discussed with you K200 million a year is significant costs to the State and it is important that the government continues to reduce the cost by building new office complexes and proper management of these leases by ensuring the lease rates are consistent with the real estate market and Lease Agreements allow for review of the rental on a periodic basis.” Prime Minister O’Neill stated in his letter on November 18. “The current lease agreements are totally in favour of the landlords, which if challenge in courts, will surely be nullified. The Prime Minister also stated that there is inconsistency in the lease rates applied in the properties and in many instances, the rates are far too excessive for properties outside of Port Moresby town, which contributes to soaring increase in the budget for office leases every year. Prime Minister O’Neill also made strong recommendations to be considered by Sir Puka Temu, who is the Public Services Minister. The recommendations included the following:
- The current office lease committee to be restructured to include Chief Secretary as chairman, secretaries of DPM, Finance, Lands and State Solicitor;
- An independent audit investigation to be immediately conducted into the operation and management of the office lease;
- All future office leases to be obtained under the Financial Management Act as it involves procurement of services (public tender) where public finance is involved, and;
- The management of office leases should be outsourced to the private sector in the future.
“We cannot continue to operate or maintain the same status quo, which is clearly an overly expensive exercise and unsustainable operation,” he said. “Budget outlay of K200 million a year is a lot of money and money which we can save to fund essential services for our people. I am sure with the above measures in place, savings will be realized over time.”
**** Minister Michael Malabag - "Focus on quality care" December 4th 2013****
Quality patient care is what the people of Papua New Guinea want, Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Michael Malabag says. He said since he became the health minister, he wanted many changes to be made in terms of health care services in the country.
Speaking yesterday at the launching of the PNG LNG project – child and maternal health care programme – Malabag said this was a unique opportunity for public-private partnership between Texas Children’s Hospital, the National Health Department and the University of PNG that complemented the Government’s national health plan.
“Thanks to the PNG LNG project, our local health institutes will benefit significantly from this capacity building programme from Texas Children’s Hospital,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it is all about basic and efficient service delivery to our people.” Prof Nakapi Tefuarani, from the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said the initiative would enhance students academically and health standards for the benefit of the nation.
“UPNG medical faculty is the only institution that produces doctors in the country and I believe the programme will have a long-term effect,” he said. “The partnership will improve the academics as 48-plus doctors will be graduating next year.” Partnerships have already started with two doctors working at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
Dr Edwin Machine is a public health specialist and Dr Hendry Welch is a paediatric specialist. Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said it was a blessing to see more partners coming abroad to help implement the health plan. “Public health was struggling for some time but slowly, development is happening with the support of the government,” he said.
**** Minister Malabag - "Recognise and accept the choices of every individual’s sexual orientation and needs.” December 4th 2013****
Health Minister Michael Malabag says women in Papua New Guinea are less empowered in decision making and constantly suffer from many forms of gender-related violence. “This puts them at greater risk of acquiring HIV infection and transmitting the virus to their unborn child when they become pregnant,” he said.
“The law has forbidden all forms of violence, including violence against women, as this is not acceptable anymore in our society. “We must stop all forms of HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. “At the same time, recognise and accept the choices of every individual’s sexual orientation and needs.”
Malabag was at the Pacific International Hospital’s five-day AIDS/HIV awareness and prevention campaign on Sunday.
Dr Amyna Sultan, the hospital’s acting chief executive officer and director, urged people to practice safe behaviour to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Sultan reminded the public to uphold the dignity of those unfortunate infected persons and not to stigmatise them.
The first HIV case in PNG was diagnosed in June 1987.
The estimated prevalence of HIV among those between 15 and 49 years old has dropped from 0.9% in 2010 to 0.52% in 2012. By June 2013, about 21,500 people were registered as HIV-positive. More than 70% of those tested positive are on HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy). Malabag said the death rate for people living with HIV had dramatically dropped by almost 70%.
**** OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRIME MINISTER, HON PETER O’NEILL CMG MP - DEVELOPMENT OF ELECTRICITY FRAMEWORK SEMINAR - PORT MORESBY, 4 DECEMBER 2013. ****
“ELECTRICITY – ITS ROLE IN OUR FUTURE SHARED GROWTH AND PROSPERITY”
Thank you for being here at the start of the day to participate in what I regard as a most important seminar – because it focusses squarely on one of the great challenges of our future. The seminar could not be better timed – and perhaps it is not a coincidence of timing! Yesterday I delivered the opening remarks at the Petroleum Symposium organised by the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum. I outlined then some of the points I will restate today. But you will be pleased to know I won’t repeat the whole speech! But if you are interested in it, then it can be read on my website – www.primeministerpng.com.
As Prime Minister, I often think about what we as a nation have achieved over the 38 years since Independence. And sometimes I even think about what we have not achieved.
Sadly, the development of electricity falls firmly into the second category. And I take no pleasure whatsoever from saying that. Successive Governments have simply not given the development of affordable and reliable electricity the priority it deserved. And in consequence rural and regional electrification has not achieved what would be regarded as even basic benchmarks. But I am ever an optimist. I look to the past only to learn for the future.
That is why I believe we today have a unique opportunity to put behind us the under-development of affordable and reliable electricity generation and delivery. Today I want to outline a couple of principles I and my Government are committed to – and offer a few suggestions on how they might actually be implemented and not just talked about.
Firstly, please, please no more extensive studies and reports on electricity generation and delivery. We have had too many costly and unproductive studies….and not just in regard to power supplies. The time has come for action – and action which results from the right priorities, the right focus, and public and private sectors working together.
ELECTRICITY – THE KEY PRIORITY AREAS
The development of our electricity sector must have a couple of key priorities. It must, perhaps above all else, result in the vast majority of our people, no matter where they live, getting access to affordable and reliable power. I know this is a significant challenge, given the terrain of our nation, and distances, and our poor performance over the last four decades. A significant challenge, yes, but an insurmountable one, no. We need to begin from the standpoint of looking at just how wide ranging our power generation options are.
Hydro energy, gas generated energy, solar energy, wave energy, thermal energy, and, yes, perhaps even coal fired energy. About the one option we don’t have is nuclear power. How many nations in our region, and beyond, have such a broad range of energy options, and for the most part, have them in abundance? Because that diversity of options, if we get the priorities right – and the investment and development structures right – there is absolutely no reason why we cannot achieve giant strides over the next five years in the development of affordable and reliable electricity that lifts living standards for our rural majority, and for growing urban communities.
And the development of competitive electricity supply that enables us to attract major down- stream processing and other industries, and help facilitate the growth in small to medium sized enterprise my government is committed to facilitating. I suspect the first question you want me to answer given the enormity of the opportunity and the challenge we have is – what is the role of government?
I hope the role of government is one we can manage; and not one we simply cannot deliver on. That has been the problem up to now. I see the private sector energy sector driving the development of the sector – sometimes on its own, sometimes in partnership with major resource sector developers, and sometimes in partnership with the National Government. And even sometimes in partnership with provincial and local level governments.
But let me make one point absolutely clear – there are financial and capacity limits to what the National Government, and the state-owned PNG Power, can do, and frankly should do. As you may know, we are developing a very comprehensive PPP Program – Public Private Sector Partnerships – something which play a vital role in delivering services, including electricity, in other countries. We are not going to rush into PPPs. We want to get the structures right – and learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions.
But next year we will have a PPP policy and structure in place that will be well suited to the unique demands of Papua New Guinea.
The second role of government needs to be the implementation of policies that require resource sector developers – and especially petroleum resource developers – to value add to resource development by down-stream processing, and electricity generation.
I foreshadowed in my speech yesterday that while LNG exports are going to give our economy an enormous boost, we cannot rely on LNG export alone. We need to diversity the development of the sector – and the role of gas in electricity generation is a critical part of that diversification. I would envisage the future role of the government, and PNG Power, will be to facilitate power distribution and maintenance.
The state should not be wasting scarce resources in areas the private sector can, with the right policy support, manage. Power generation must be one of them.
The other role of the government needs to play is to encourage localised power generation, such as solar power, possibly wave power, and small scale hydro projects. I am not opposed to the provision by the government of subsidies and incentives to local councils, and even local businesses, and most certainly local communities, to develop clean and affordable energy delivery options.
As I said earlier, the key to the success of any policy of boosting affordable and reliable power supply – and ensuring it has the maximum social and economic impact – is to get in place the right “mix” of generation options. I hope this symposium will do just that.
I don’t believe we really understand, or comprehend, just how extensive the options we have available in a nation blessed with an abundance of energy resources. Of course the focus will be on gas generation. It is our biggest and most exciting option. But it must not be seen as the only one. And that is the message I want to leave with you.
The diversity of our energy resources, and the application of the latest technology and processes, means we can make up for almost forty years of underperformance in five years or even less. And do so in a way that living standards will improve, and industry and enterprise will grow. That is our challenge – and it is our unique opportunity today.
**** Task Force Sweep signs historic deal with Australian Police. December 5th 2013 ****
A historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between task force sweep and and the Australian federal police (AFP) to combat transitional crime between both countries. The highly classified agreement would enable the sharing of information and resources to combat cross border corruption investigation on matters of mutual interest between Australia and PNG. The historic signing took place at the Australian High Commissioner Deborah stokes residence at Touaguba Hill in Port Moresby. Ms Stokes said the event marked a milestone in the policing area between the two countries. She congratulated Task Force Sweep for a "job well done" in fighting corruption in the country. Chairman of Task Force Sweep Sam Koim thanked the Australian Federal Police for reaching the understanding of partnering which was also a great achievement for task force sweep. Mr Koim said there were existing arrangements and MOU's with other Government Agencies like defence, police, customs and immigration. This is one of the agreements that would make it easy to curb crimes like money laundering and organised corruption issues that go beyond our borders, he said. He said there was a lot of work involved in the actual setting up of this precedence of battling cross-border issues and the signing of these documents would be instrumental to combat trans-national and organised crime. AFP assistant commissioner and head of national and serious and organised crime, Ramsi Jabbour said the signing opened the opportunity for friendship and co-operation between the two countries to work together. Mr Jabbour said the AFP was looking forward to assisting Task Force Sweep to fight crime, particularly on corruption issues. He said AFP would be able to assist in areas where the task force sweep would need assistance in capacity and other areas for duty.
**** Talks and planning on rice project. December 5th 2013 ****
Talks and planning on the Naima rice project in Central are underway following Cabinet’s endorsement last month, National Planning Minister Charles Abel says.
A statement from his office confirmed the approval, which does not allow monopoly or exclusivity arrangements.
Abel said the country needed genuine investors and welcomed foreign investments to assist in growing the economy.
He said the Government encouraged locally produced rice and wanted arrangements to promote genuine competition from investors. He said arrangements should never undermine genuine competition. The Government would not grant monopoly or allow exclusivity arrangements, Abel said.
He said the country had learnt from past deals with cement, fuel, canned tuna and sugar that proposed benefits from such arrangements failed to materialise or the costs far outweighed the benefits. He said those costs usually involved the citizens paying more for the products.
Central Governor Kila Haoda assured the people of Central that the rice project was big and the Government would ensure that they benefited. He said he would ensure that the province successfully hosted it to promote development and economic growth.
**** Projects programme to support rural farmers. December 5th 2013 ****
Agriculture and livestock smallholders in Central can now expand their projects through a revived support programme by the government and its partners.
The Smallholder Support Services Extension Programme (SSSEP) was relaunched by Central Governor Kila Haoda in Port Moresby yesterday.
The new office signifies the means of SSSEP implementation in the province where agriculture and livestock smallholders can use the programme to expand their local projects through assistance from the provincial government, Agriculture and Livestock Department and other partners.
This provides opportunities for produce and products to obtain markets.
The programme will enable the services of agriculture extension officers or didimans to be reinvented at the rural level.
Haoda said the programme was important for the people because their agricultural projects would be directly utilised.
He said his administration was happy to take on board the initiative involving the people because it placed emphasis on direct development of the people.
The initiative was first incepted in 2000 under an Asian Development Bank funding but was not successful, although NZAID had stepped in from 2010 to 2013.
The project had been dormant until this year.
DAL officer in-charge of SSSEP Dr Sam Lahis said Central was ideally situated with high potential for agriculture.
The first seven years were spent piloting the programme in Morobe and Chimbu, where it had proven successful.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill - SATISFIED WITH PROGRESS IN FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION. December 5th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said today (5/12/13) he was satisfied that Papua New Guinea has made significant progress in the fight against corruption.
“I’m pleased with what we have achieved, in the fight to stem corruption, since 2011. Much of the stride we have made may not be noticeable, and may not please everyone, but that will not deter us from our commitment,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. He said high investor confidence, sound management of the economy, building infrastructure for better service delivery, and improving business environment were the hallmarks of a country that is dealing decisively with its development issues, including fighting corruption.
“Against this backdrop, I must say that I am disappointed with PNG’s rating on the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013. Obviously those who influence this perception rating may have a certain bias in the way our government has addressed some issues in the last 12 months. “But let me assure the people of Papua New Guinea that the government will take this rating as an encouragement to do more to fight this evil of corruption.”
Since being elected Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill, the Government under O’Neill’s leadership has:
- approved the National Anti-Corruption Strategy which has won the approval of the United Nations;
- set up a National Anti-Corruption Task Force which is now implementing the Strategy;
- set up Task Force SWEEP headed by Sam Koim which is investigating and prosecuting corrupt practices in the public sector;
- ordered a high level investigation into massive fraud and corruption in the Finance Department, which has resulted in a clean out of the department, and prosecution of certain individuals involved;
- introduced the ICAC Bill in Parliament which passed the first vote with an overwhelming majority; supporting legislations to protect whistle blowers and ensure freedom of information will be introduced when the ICAC Bill faces the second vote next year;
- ordered a review of certain contracts with prices which were deemed as excessive;
- frozen all illegally/improperly acquired land leases (SABLs) following a commission of inquiry, and appointing a task force to review the process; and
- reviewed the entire public procurement process with the inclusion of independent assessors, for the first time, to allow more transparency and accountability in the process, and speed up delivery time.
The Prime Minister said: “These are some of the measures we have taken as a Government to improve Governance, and enhance transparency and accountability in our systems and processes. No-one can accuse us of doing nothing.”
- He said there was a lot of debate and discussions in the mainstream and social media about corruption. “The use of these forums for discussions and debates is healthy. Most of these discussions are sensible and useful in the cause, while some are baseless innuendos which we all can do without.
“It is important to remember that fighting corruption is not just the Government’s business; it’s everyone’s business. We all have a role to play to rid our country of corruption,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said.
**** PRIME MINISTER HON. PETER O'NEILL - PNG MOURNS NELSON MANDELA’S DEATH. December 6th 2012 ****
The Government and People of Papua New Guinea join with me in mourning the passing of the most influential and inspirational statesmen of our time, the first democratically elected President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
President Mandela ended the cruel apartheid era in South Africa – an era during which he was unjustly and harshly imprisoned for more than two decades – and by his leadership and his example he unified a racially divided nation to create the modern, democratic and multiracial South Africa of today. Of all his many qualities, it was perhaps his unlimited capacity for forgiveness that stands out most of all. And he especially forgave those who mistreated him most of all.
It was his absolute forgiveness of the apartheid Government that imprisoned him, and treated him unjustly and harshly for so long, that laid the foundations for the transition from decades of undemocratic apartheid rule to a robust democracy in a very short period of time.
His influence for good on our World continued as strong and as wholesome as ever in his retirement from public life – and it will continue as strong as ever even after his passing, when we remember the struggles he endured, and his fellow freedom fighters endured, just to gain the freedom and democracy we all too often take for granted.
Under President Mandela’s leadership, South Africa returned to the Commonwealth of Nations, and provided ready leadership for the developing nations of the World. We mourn his passing, but we will always be in admiration of his leadership, his courage under enormous pressure, and the wonderful inspiration he has provided for so many, for so long. The World is a better place for the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
To his family, and to President Jacob Zuma and the People of South Africa, the Government and People of Papua New Guinea extend sincere sympathy at the passing of the founder of modern and free South Africa, and the finest statesmen of our time.
MAY HIS SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE
**** TB cases in city set to rise. December 6th 2013 ****
The number of tuberculosis cases in Port Moresby is expected to rise during the festive season, a health official says. National Capital District health adviser Dr Gary Ou’u said the capital city often experienced an influx of family members during the festive season to spend time with their relatives. He said records showed that it was also a time when the number of TB cases surged upwards.
“We have over 6,000 cases for Port Moresby alone,” he said.
“Unless we do something about it, the number will increase dramatically this festive season.”
Ou’u was speaking to those who attended a health conference in Port Moresby organised by the National Capital District Commission health department.
He urged them work closely with the task force set up to coordinate and oversee an improved delivery of quality TB services to minimise the impact of the disease in Port Moresby.
Port Moresby General Hospital TB ward chief physician Dr Joseph Bana Koiri said the major technical problem was the lack of emphasis put on the referral system.
“The TB referral system should be user-friendly. However this is not the case here,” he said. He urged the urban clinics not to refer critically ill patients to TB wards but to send them straight to the accident and emergency ward so that they can get treatment quickly. He asked the task force team to review the policy to avoid unnecessary technical complications on the distribution of first and second line drugs.
**** Minister Don Polye gets CMG award. December 6th 2013 ****
Treasury Minister Don Polye received the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) from Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio at Government House yesterday.
Polye was given the award by the Queen for his “services to the people of Kandep and PNG as a whole”.
He had served as deputy Prime Minister in the former government led by Sir Michael Somare. Vice-minister for Treasury and Sohe MP Delilah Gore was at the ceremony.
“This gives me the humble feeling to continue provide service to the people of this country, my family and those that are around me and importantly the people of Kandep who elected me,” Polye said.
“It gives me the mandate to perform and enhance my contribution in the meaningful way to the people of this great nation.” He said the value of the award was not in the medal but in his heart. Polye said all must share prosperity in the country. He called on the business people including women and youth to actively participate in business.
**** FREE HEALTH CARE BY 2014. December 9th 2013 ****
By February 24, 2014, Papua New Guineans will benefit from the free primary health care and subsidised specialist services in all health facilities, public hospitals, health centres and aid posts.
Officially declared last Friday in Port Moresby, the Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Michael Malabag also instructed his secretary to place paid advertisements in the media for the general public explaining the use of the policy.
Mr Malabag said the O’Neill-Dion Govern-ment’s Alotau Accord for a Government of Reconciliation, Unity and Hope announced this policy while maintaining commitment to people for accessible and affordable health care.
"The Health Department has thrown its support behind this great endeavor to formalise this policy after prudent assessment and amendment of the existing policies and legislations that govern and administrate the different level of health facilities, public hospitals and provincial hospitals and provincial health facilities, and their existing user pay structures," he said.
Mr Malabag said it has been a daunting task for the department to finalise the policy document and the national executive council had the policy approved together with the revised public hospital charges and dental charges in August, 2013.
In August, the government’s initial allocation for the implementation of the policy was released and warrants of the funds were disbursed.
Government run health facilities received K6.1 million and Health Department, hospital management services received K13.9 million (K9m for public hospitals and K4.9 m for Church Health Services’ facilities).
To offset the loss of revenue, the government has committed to appropriate K20 million on an annual basis over the next four years (2014-2017).
The hospitals will continue to charge user fees, however, the level of fee charges have been either reduced or removed.
Fees for some services have been reduced by 50 per cent while fees for services that are complex and expensive in nature will be marginally reduced.
These amendments are additional to the existing exemption category under the current Public Hospitals Charges Regulations.
Also on Friday, the minister emphasised commitment from all sectors involved in the implementation of the policy to make it happen, especially Finance and Treasury to release timely health functional and hospital grants. Health secretary Pasco Kase also stressed that the major challenge was sustainability."The policy will not be successful and sustainability implemented for the entire health system without determination and collaboration from us all," Mr Kase said.
He said the departments of Treasury and Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs and the Christian Health Services of PNG and workers in the health sector need to work together to ensure this policy becomes practical and achievable.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill to visit Enga, December 9th 2013****
ENGA is excited as Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has confirmed that he would visit them during the festive season from December 17-18.
Protocol and logistic preparations on the ground are well and truly underway as the province looks forward to receiving the PM ‘the Enga Way’.
In a letter dated 19th November, 2013 to Enga Governor,Grand Chief Peter Ipatas, Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Ambassador Isaac B Lupari said: "I am pleased to advise that the Prime Minister has agreed to visit Enga province from 17-18th December, 2013 as part of his provincial tour programme for 2013".
He will be in Wabag on 17 Dec, where he is expected to launch the Wabag District Plan for the Wabag Open MP, Robert Sandan Ganim and also officiate at the groundbreaking of the new Wabag Day High School and Community college. He is also expected to visit the Rural Electrification project sites of Mr Ganim.
Mr Ganim is also expected to make Christmas presentations – two Wokabaut sawmills for Maramuni and Wei people, a truck for Sirunki farmers, an ambulance for Tambitanis Health Centre, and final payments for village court officials – an initiative he started early this year.
**** PNG forms a stronger relationship with Vietnam. December 9th 2013 ****
The Government of Papua New Guinea plans to open a mission in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the coming year. As a leading and growing economy with GDP of $170Billion in 2013, Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the Southeast Asia region.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill made this comment, following a call with His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Thuy, Vietnam Ambassador to PNG. His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Thuy made the call to the Prime Minister from the Embassy in Indonesia.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said Papua New Guinea and Vietnam will develop their relationship further in the coming years. Vietnam provides many opportunities for PNG as an export market, as an investor into PNG, therefore, I am recommending that PNG plans to establish a mission to enhance its trade relations with Vietnam.
The Prime Minister also requested Vietnam’s support in PNG’s hosting of the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) summit and support PNG’s ASEAN membership bid.
“PNG will work closely with Vietnam in areas of agriculture, tourism and others,” he said. In response, His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Thuy acknowledged PNG’s support to Vietnam in multilateral forums.
“Vietnam will support PNG’s request for full ASEAN membership. Vietnam is ready to exchange experience with PNG in hosting major events like the APEC,” he said.
**** PRIME MINISTER HON. PETER O'NEILL CONGRATULATES ANISI ON HIS VICTORY AS AMBUNTI-DREIKIKIR MEMBER-ELECT. December 10th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill after learning of his People’s National Congress candidate, Ezikiel Anisi’s victory, declared as the member-elect for Ambunti-Dreikikir, extended his congratulations and welcomed him back to his seat. He said the PNC Party aims to groom young and vibrant leaders and Mr Anisi is one example of this objective.
Mr Anisi, who was officially declared as the Ambunti-Dreikikir member-elect on Sunday polling 11,200 votes defeated the United Resource Party candidate, Johnson Wapunai, with just 8,758 votes.
“I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to this young leader also known as the youngest MP in history, for reclaiming his Ambunti-Dreikikir Open seat in the recent by-election.
“As the leader of this ruling party (PNC), I also welcome him back to his seat and look forward to working closely with him to ensure effective service delivery is carried out immediately to his electorate,” Mr O’Neill said.
The Prime Minister and other ministers of his Cabinet recently travelled to both the Ambunti and Dreikikir Districts in the East Sepik Province to campaign for Mr Anisi.
***Government to rejuvenate rundown accommodation. December 10th 2013***
The National Housing Corporation (NHC) has embarked on a 24-month operation to carry out major renovation and upgrading of its rundown accommodation properties in the National Capital District.
Renovation work will be carried out on 215 flats located on Henao Drive (5-Mile), Manu Auto Port (Korobosea), Red Cross (3-Mile) and Saraga (6-Mile).
This follows two months of awareness carried out by the corporation’s business arm the National Housing Estate Ltd (NHEL) for tenants and occupants.
NHEL chairman John Dege said yesterday that renovation work would begin immediately at the Henao Drive units, which were rundown and in need of urgent maintenance.
He said the tenants and occupants would be moved to transit or makeshift accommodation, which would be erected within the premises.
Dege denied that tenants would be evicted from the properties to make way for the renovation work.
He said the NHEL and the corporation were aware of illegal tenants and occupants of their properties but evicting them would be the “extreme last resort”.
He added that this was in line with the instruction from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that all processes should be exhausted before occupants of government accommodation were evicted.
“We appeal to all occupants to take ownership of the Government’s move to provide a facelift to all its residential assets and comply by legitimising their occupancy with NHEL so that they can be included in the NHEL’s development plans for a better, healthier and comfortable accommodation,” Dege said.
He said renovation work would cost about K20 million which would be funded from several sources, including K6 million from the recent sale of the Waigani Hostel, K6 million from the corporation and K8 million from the Government.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill flew to Ialibu today to address students during the Ialibu secondary graduation. It is the 14th grade 12 graduation for Ialibu Secondary school. The Prime Minister is pleased to be able to return to his own province to support these young adults of the future. ****
**** Minister Pato satisfied with outcome of ministerial forum. December 11th 2013 ****
Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato today expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the PNG – Australia Ministerial Forum held in Canberra. Minister Pato said the agreement between the two Governments, outlined in the Communique signed, delivered a new outlook in the relationship between the two countries. “The new focus in our economic and development cooperation, as outlined, only serves to strengthen our existing relationship,” Minister Pato said. He said PNG’s economy was one of the fastest growing economy in the world. He said there was increased spending by the government on key areas like infrastructure development, education and health, and law and order.
“The Australian Government is now aligning their annual aid with our development priorities in these key areas, and I’m very pleased and excited. In fact these are exciting time for all of us (both Australia and PNG),” Pato said. “Focusing resources in these priority areas will ensure we get the outcome we want.” Minister Pato and his Australian counterpart jointly addressed the media in Canberra after signing the Communique.
The upgrade of the Madang-Ramu Highway, Angau Hospital redevelopment, building a lower court house in Waigani, and upgrading facilities at the University of PNG are initial projects agreed to by both Governments.
Foreign Minister Bishop also announced she would visit PNG early next year, possibly February.
Some of agreements in the Communiqué include;
- Australia supporting PNG’s hosting of the APEC summit in 2018;
- Australia supporting ongoing implementation of Bougainville Peace Agreement;
- Both sides committed to work together maximize take-ups for Seasonal Workers Program;
- Both sides to continue to work on streamlining visa arrangement to make it easier for PNG citizens to travel to Australia;
- Continue the Defence and Police Cooperation, with 50 Australian Federal Police personnels now deployed in PNG;
- Australian Government fully supporting the Anti Corruption efforts of the PNG Government;
- Australian Government supporting PNG Government’s efforts in improving the procurement process.
Minister Pato said PNG will continue to work with Australia in addressing human trafficking issues, and expressed satisfaction that the Manus Asylum Processing Centre was working well, in line with laws and standard expected of such a facility.
**** IALIBU & PANGIA SECONDARY SCHOOLS GET K500, 000 FOR LAPTOPS, December 12th 2013 ****
The Ialibu and Pangia Secondary Schools received K500,000 from their Member of Parliament and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, on Wednesday to purchase new laptops for all graduating grade 12 students this year and for year 11 and 12 students in 2014. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill presented the cheque to the District Administrator, Ron Yamuna, during the 14th Ialibu Secondary School graduation in Ialibu, Southern Highlands Province. “This is a well-deserved and memorable day for all of you as you worked hard throughout the year. Therefore, we are very proud of your achievements today,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. He said even though Ialibu-Pangia doesn’t have any gold mine or gas reserves, “we have our brains – and that is human capital”.
“Your lives are just beginning, so do not waste your lives on hopelessness, as this world has a lot to offer. “If you don’t secure space in a tertiary institute after this graduation, do not give up and resort to illegal activities like consuming home-brew and drugs. “See this as one of life’s challenges and go out there and make use of the many positive opportunities the world has to offer,” Prime minister Hon. Peter O’Neill urged the graduates. He said the next few years are vital for the graduates to transform themselves to become better citizens.
“Many people the world over have become successful because they have managed themselves well and have overcome these kinds of challenges. “You must all endeavour to follow these examples. God has put us all here for a purpose,” the Prime Minister said. He further encouraged the students to hold their heads up high as the government and society will support them where necessary. One area where school leavers can turn to is to teal their land and grow cash crops. With the Government’s emphasis on growing the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), opportunities are now available for school leavers to start up small businesses to sustain themselves. “We all depend on each other and I assure you all that this country is now moving in the right direction after so many years of wasted opportunities. Use the knowledge you have gained while in school to make a better life for yourselves,” he said.
**** GRADUATES THANK PRIME MINISTER O’NEILL, December 12th 2013 ****
Graduating students from Ialibu Secondary School in Southern Highlands Province thanked Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for implementing his Government’s ‘free education’ initiative throughout Papua New Guinea. Speaking during the school’s 14th graduation ceremony in Ialibu, the Students Representative Council President, Augustine Rawae, said thanks to the ‘free education policy’ there are a large number of students graduating. “On behalf of my fellow students and our parents, I express our heartfelt gratitude and salute you for realising this basic need. Our parents have for too long struggled to make ends meet just so that we can be educated,” Mr Rawae said.
He spoke of how parents had to make numerous gardens each year to sell their harvests and to raise pigs for sale at the market to pay school fees. “Now they have been relieved off this burden and their lives have been made easier. “If previous Governments had the heart for their people, they would have implemented this policy many years ago and saved our parents the hardship. Unfortunately, they sat back and watched us suffer till the O’Neill-led Government came along and saved us,” Rawae said.
He said this policy has since been an answer to every parent’s prayer.“Your appointment as Prime Minister was certainly, without doubt, divine intervention,” he added. After his speech, Mr Rawae presented a huge pig to the Prime Minister as a sign of gratitude for his Government’s assistance.
**** More Aussie cops on the way. December 16th 2013 ****
The third and final group of Australian Federal Police will arrive in Papua New Guinea on 21 December 2013.
There will be 10 of them arriving to be deployed under this agreement. Their arrival will fulfil the Australian Government’s commitment to deploy fifty additional AFP officers to Port Moresby and Lae by the end of 2013. The second group of Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers deployed under the expanded Papua New Guinea-Australia Policing Partnership (PNG-APP) arrived in Port Moresby on 9 December 2013. Their arrival brings to 40 the number of AFP officers so far deployed to PNG under the expanded partnership.
The AFP officers are providing frontline advisory support to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) to strengthen the RPNGC’s ability to deliver effective and visible policing services to the people of PNG.
**** HIV could be gone in 15 years. December 16th 2013 ****
The United Nations says the "end of AIDS" in the Asia-Pacific is achievable within the next 15 years, but the organisation’s regional special envoy has warned against complacency.
"Many countries are progressing. There are only four, five countries where we are seeing an increasing number of infections," the UN’s Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for AIDS Prasada Rao told Radio Australia ahead of this year’s of World AIDS Day.
"Post-2015, at least for the next 10-15 years, we should see new infections brought down to a very negligible level, maybe 10 to 15 per cent of what it is now. "This really is the elimination level. For me, that really is the end of AIDS." It is a statement that’s been echoed from the UNAIDS executive director. "For the first time we can see an end to an epidemic that has wrought such staggering devastation around the world," Michel Sidibé said in a statement.
"Progress is clear in the scientific breakthroughs, visionary leadership and precision programming. The combination of these powerful factors means that people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives, can now protect their partners from becoming infected with the virus, and can keep their children free from HIV."
The number of new HIV infections has dropped by one-third in the past two years, but Mr Rao says the countries where HIV infection rates are still increasing include Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV-AIDS reports the number of new HIV infections has increased in Central Asia by 13 per cent since 2006. The groups most at risk include men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who inject drugs. One of the key messages of World AIDS Day is to combat the stigma associated with HIV-AIDS.
**** Angau Memorial Hospital redevelopment to be biggest Australian infrastructure project. December 16th 2013 ****
The Angau Memorial Hospital redevelopment will be the largest infrastructure project Australia will have supported in Papua New Guinea. Counselor for Development Cooperation at the Australian High Commission Cathie Hurst said this during the welcome reception of the 13 Australian Federal police officers last Friday. Ms Hurst said the joint understanding was a major a major investment to alleviate poverty and support economic development in Papua New Guinea.
She said Australia has invested up to billion kina over the last four years towards four projects that would save lives, improve educational opportunities and improve law and order. She said the bulk of the investment is focused in Lae which is the Angau Memorial Hospital redevelopment which is the largest infrastructure project Australia will have supported PNG.
Australia has agreed to develop a master plan and scope of works for the redevelopment and also funded 50 percent of the capital infrastructure cost of the works. PNG will pay 50 percent of the capital cost and the entire ongoing operating and maintenance.
She said a term of reference for the master plan has been prepared. "It is anticipated that an international competitive procurement for a firm to undertake the master planning will begin in early 2014, she said. Ms Hurst said planning and selection of health services by both Governments and then the facilities and design planning will take approximately two years.
Major on ground construction activity is scheduled to start in 2016 -17 while in the shorter term panning processes, PNG and Australia may undertake early construction and renovation activities at the hospital.
"This work may include asbestos and waste management. Electrical and plumbing works, hardware supply, earthworks, clearing and cleaning and fencing, which Hornibrook through the PNG government is coordinating this activity," said Ms Hurst. The AFP officers were also part of the Joint Understanding law and justice commitment.
**** Head of Police Crimes Directorate to head Wewak Probe. December 17th, 2013 ****
Head of the Police Crimes Directorate, Detective Chief Superintendent Donald Yomasombi will be leading a team of three police detectives to investigate the alleged rape of a 16 year old girl as well as the alleged assault and detention of a woman leader, and the rampage by PNG Defence Force soldiers in Wewak, East Sepik Province.
Detective Chief Superintendent Yomasombi flies into Wewak this afternoon with two police detectives and a member of the Police Internal Affairs Directorate. They will be joined by the Momase Divisional Commander Acting Assistant Commissioner Nema Mondiai.
Detective Chief Superintendent Yomasombi said for the alleged rape and the alleged assault and detention of the woman leader he will be calling all parties together for a joint meeting where he will outline the parameters of the investigation.
“I will invite the Provincial Police Commander, the Police Station Commander, all commissioned officers as well as NCOs to attend the meeting together with the alleged victim and her relatives as well as witnesses.
“I will make it clear to the police personnel based in Wewak that I will expect their fullest cooperation with the investigations. I want to reassure the alleged victim, her relatives and witnesses that they have nothing to fear and must come forward to lay their complaint and make their statement.
**** PAPUA NEW GUINEA CONSIDERED AS AN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT PARTNER FOR JAPAN. December 19th 2013 ****
Papua New Guinea is considered the most important development partner for Japan.
Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Norio Mitsuya, said this when paying a courtesy call on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill this morning (19/12/13) at his Parliament office.
“Papua New Guinea is the most important partner in the Pacific region for Japan,” Mr Mitsuya said.
He said the Japanese Government is tapping into most of the developments in the country and is keen on working closely with the PNG Government.
“Japan will come in a big way in terms of investment in gas, oil, mining, fisheries, tourism and other sectors of the economy.
“Currently, Japan is the biggest importer of the LNG gas in the country,” he said.
Mr Mitsuya also relayed the message that the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe will be visiting PNG next year and the date will be made known once it is finalised.
In response, Prime Minister O’Neill said the PNG Government will continue to support and provide a conducive environment for all Japanese investments and to further protect Japanese citizens living in the country.
Both leaders have recognised the importance of their bilateral relations and are promoting it to enhance further developments in PNG.
**** 2014 will be the year of implementation, December 20th *****
Commissioner of Police Toami Kulunga today reviewed a parade at the David Unagi Oval in the National Capital District and told the members of parade that 2014 will be a year of implementation.
Commissioner Kulunga said that 2013 was a year of preparation, following on from the political impasse, the 2012 national general elections as well as continual financial neglect over the years. He thanked the Government of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill who has prioritised law and order and ensured that it was now adequately resourced.
Four companies consisting of 16 squads with a total of 480 members including the popular RPNGC band marched onto the David Unagi Oval to listen to Commissioner Kulunga's end of year message. The Australian Federal Police as well as the National Capital District Commission Reserve members also fielded squads for the parade.
Commissioner Kulunga told the members of the public witnessing the parade that the RPNGC was their police force.
"Whilst there are many negative incidents with our police personnel which do not reflect well on the constabulary, we must be fair and acknowledge their many good and positive achievements during the year, given the very challenging environment and generally difficult nature of our people as well," Commissioner Kulunga said.
He added that despite the criticism, there are many dedicated policemen and women quietly doing their jobs throughout the country in very difficult environments and with very limited resources.
"By and large, we are providing some level of policing services throughout the length and breath of this nation. We are making arrests. We are charging people. We are convicting criminals. You only have to check the jails to see if the Royal PNG Constabulary is working or not. Our police cells are full and most prisons throughout the country are filled to capacity.
"I have a dedicated management team that is committed to reforming and changing the Royal PNG Constabulary into an efficient and effective service oriented Police Force. My management and I are not simply warming the seat. We are determined to be agents of change and committed to leave behind a legacy," Commissioner Kulunga said.
He said that to achieve this his management must provide the right and responsible leadership based on honesty, transparency and accountability. Non-conforming, non-contributing and negative elements will have to be flushed out of the Constabulary.
Commissioner Kulunga said, "By the same token, good work, professionalism, honesty, accountability, dedication, commitment and loyalty will be acknowledged and rewarded by my management. I have said many times that policing is a noble profession. It is a profession of service to others. We exist to give hope, security and comfort to our people.
"There are many more positive developments in store for us. The government is doing its part. The Police Top Management is also doing its part. Now the onus is on members of the Royal PNG Constabulary to do your part, meaning that you have to perform to the expectations of the stakeholders.
"My advise to you all is: be disciplined; be committed; be accountable; be trusting; be caring; and be professional. If you can do all these I will be a very proud police commissioner."
**** SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCHING OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY AND THE DEFENCE WHITE PAPER AT THE MURRAY BARRACKS PARADE GROUND ON FRIDAY 20TH OF DECEMBER 2013 ****
The Minister for Defence Hon Dr Fabian Pok, senior Ministers of Government, Heads of Missions and members of the Diplomatic Corps, Chief Secretary to Government Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, Commander PNGDF and the Secretary for Defence, Commissioners for Police and Correctional Service, Departmental Heads and Heads of Statutory Bodies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;
Thank you for being here to witness this historic occasion. For the first time in our Nation’s history, we have a National Security Policy that is home-grown by Papua New Guineans for Papua New Guinea interests.
It is fitting that the PNG Defence White Paper 2013 will also be launched today as both policies were developed concurrently and are closely linked.
Papua New Guinea is the ‘land of a thousand tribes’. There is great beauty and strength in our diversity. We acknowledge our forefathers who have gone before us and forged the path along which we travel. It is now the responsibility of our generation and those to come after us, to protect that which is so dear to us; our people, our land, our diverse cultures, our resources and our relationship with God.
Many nations around the world have gone to war to acquire and protect what is theirs. They understand the inextricable link between development and security.
We did not have to fight for Independence, as it was granted to us in good faith. We have, therefore, tended to focus on development at the expense of security, such that the security gaps of today are seriously undermining our development efforts. It is, therefore, time for us to tie development and security together and apportion them equal attention and resources.
Our national security has lacked cohesion and effective coordination since Independence. Our response to security issues have been largely disjointed as a result.
Our national security institutions have been neglected to the extent where they lack appropriate capabilities to provide effective public safety and protection of our natural resources and our international borders.
But we must not sit back and languish, and blame others for what we have not done. My Government is committed to addressing and improving our security. The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary’s Modernisation Program and the PNG Defence White Paper 2013 are examples of the work we are putting in improving this sector.
The National Security Policy is designed to address this situation by co-ordinating and implementing national security on a whole-of-nation basis. It will not reduce or impede the key functions and responsibilities of individual agencies but rather provide the platform upon which national security can be co-ordinated across many fronts, and across the length and breadth of our nation.
The development of the National Security Policy is one of the three (3) priorities I agreed to in February this year with Chief Secretary and the Department of Prime Minister & NEC to delivery over the next three (3) years. I stand here pleased that we have achieved this objective in just 12 months.
I wish to thank all those who worked tirelessly to produce this historic policy. I acknowledge and commend the invaluable contributions to the development of this policy by stakeholders in the private and public sectors, international business and development partners, civil society organisations and other concerned individuals.
I also extend a special note of appreciation to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for providing technical assistance. National security is a key Government task; however, it is also every citizen’s responsibility. I therefore call upon every citizen to embrace this policy and help build a safe, secure and prosperous PNG.
In closing, I wish to thank the Commander and the men and women of the PNGDF for a wonderful parade. I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It is now my great honour to present the PNG National Security Policy.
May God Bless Papua New Guinea.