**** Praise for mobile squad. February 3rd 2014 ****
The work by the Mobile Squad 04 in Yangoru-Saussia district, East Sepik, is good,” Acting Police Station Commander David Jamari says.
Jamari said at Yangoru Government Station that law and order in the district had improved greatly.
He said with the police mobile squad in the district law and order had improved.
“The extra tasking undertaken by mobile squad members resulted in the recapture of most wanted escapees,,” he said was one example of their success in combating law and order.
**** K200m for subsidies. February 3rd 2014 ****
The Government will pay more than K200 million into the bank accounts of schools as tuition-free fee subsidy, Finance Minister James Marape says.
Marape, who is the acting Education Minister, made the announcement while officially opening the new school year.
The Government has been paying the subsidy in the past two years since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government came into power.
“The Government has been giving out free education for all from Elementary to Grade 12,” he said.
“For this year’s school fees, we are now remitting K200m as first installment while awaiting all schools to furnish their acquittals for the more than K600 million paid to schools for the free school fee programme.”
“All schools must now send in their acquittals by March 31 to receive their second tranche.
“I have been placing calls on all recipients of government funds to acquit. Likewise all head masters of schools must prepare their acquittals.
“I note that there are still many issues in education such as teacher leave fares, quality intervention programmes, school capacity problems due to increase enrollment and the compulsory education intention.
“I commit the Government’s resolve to ensure these critical issues are resolved this year.
“We are now moving into the third and final year to abolish the OBE. “Next year, we should have a new education structure and curriculum in line with the Government’s compulsory education drive.
“These are some major structural changes we will be making. This will move Grade 7 and 8 to back to secondary high schools so that properly trained school teachers teach them.”
**** Juffa lauds police work. February 3rd 2014 ****
ORO Governor Gary Juffa has commended police for maintaining law and order since he took office in August 2012. Juffa made the comment at a reception he hosted to farewell officers from Port Moresby who were returning home for a break.
He said even though the number of police officers in the province was well below the capacity required for the Oro population, their work was beyond expectation.
“Lack of resources have not been an impediment as well,” Juffa said.
“This is a thankless job where there is always criticism. But your efforts have made Oro safe for the women and children and I am very grateful and proud,” he said
Juffa said an intelligence operation with community policing involving police from Oro and Port Moresby had resulted in the arrest of escapees and criminals.
***** Bougainville leader says major benefits from O'Neill visit - Radio New Zealand International. February 3rd 2014*****
Bougainville's President, John Momis, says O'Neill visit brought unity and will improve the ability of the provincial and national governments to collaborate ahead of the referendum on possible independence.
The president of Papua New Guinea's Bougainville says last week's visit by the prime minister, Peter O'Neill, marks a new beginning for the autonomous province.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill's historic 3 day visit included reconciliation ceremonies in Buka and Arawa.
He apologised for the horrors of the civil war and made firm commitments to assist the province as it approaches the deadline for a referendum on possible independence.
President John Momis says the visit was significant in that it helped unite the different factions in Bougainville.
He told Don Wiseman it also highlighted the need for a collaborative approach with the national government in implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
John Momis: We can't implement it successfully unless we are united - that is, ourselves here and ourselves with the national government.
Don Wiseman: What arrangements have been made over the last few days that will improve this collaboration?
JM: Well number one we had traditional customary rituals to bring about unity, unity of approach between the national government and the people and the government of Bougainville, and also specifically between the ABG leadership and the four members of the national parliament from Bougainville. Because in recent times we have been at loggerheads in terms of funding and how different funding is used for projects in Bougainville.
DW: Everyone is singing from the same songbook now?
JM: That's how it should be yes. The Bougainville Peace Agreement cannot be successfully implemented unless and until everybody sings from the same songbook as you put it.
DW: The key issue comes down to funding, doesn't it and you raised this on a number of occasions last year that Port Moresby was not paying what it should be paying. Now are those problems fixed, or are they going to be fixed?
JM: Yes the Prime Minister made a commitment at various public meetings as well as to me that the issue of the development and restoration funds that the national government has not paid us will be resolved once and for all.
DW: These are very large amounts of money aren't they so you expect to get all this money in total, and what about the 100 million kina every year over five years, which I understand has only been paid once, so far, hasn't it?
JM: That's right. Both. Restoration and Development Grant is Bougainville's only free money which is constitutionally required and guaranteed, and which we have not been fully paid. The arrears amount to, according to our calculations amounts to 188 million (kina), that is money that the ABG is owed. (Of) the other five hundred million which the national government committed to Bougainville over the next five years, only 100 million has been released,, and the PM made a commitment also that the 200 million (kina) which is in a trust account will have to be released, pending approval of projects, impact projects. I presume that means that both ABG and the national government will get to work on approving the impact projects, so that the 200 million that is in the trust account can be spent.
DW: And Mr O'Neill accepts that there are two separate amounts of money that need to come to Bougainville.
JM: That's correct. That is good because for a long time the national government never publicly admitted that it owed us arrears on the restoration and development grants.
DW: Mr O'Neill said during his visit that the Bougainville Peace Agreement is one of the best agreements any conflict has ever produced and it is up to parties involved - namely his government and yours and I guess the people of Bougainville to ensure that the final stages of it do come together and, of course, the critical part of that is this vote that is due to happen sometime after 2015. How confident are you now that the province is going to be able to get ready for that process?
JM: Mr O'Neill has placed a lot of emphasis on the need for us to provide services, to fix infrastructure - roads and bridges, provide power, fords, schools and health services, things like that. That's also very important because when the time comes for the people of Bougainville to make their choice in the referendum, either for independence or full autonomy, full autonomy within PNG, it is important for us to make sure that both of these objectives are achieved, concurrently, in a way.
DW: So do you think you will be able to achieve that? That you will be able to initiate this development that is required ahead of the vote?
JM: Well time is running out. By the way we have put in place a joint committee to work on, a referendum committee, to prepare the grounds for the referendum to be held in an atmosphere of freedom and so on and so forth. Both governments will then decide the time for the referendum to be held. I guess that is why it is important for the ABG, with the assistance of the national government to build roads, seal roads, you know, we have major infrastructure problems and also we have to start creating autonomy institutions. For autonomy to work we must have institutions that are suitable and are appropriate for autonomy. As you know we have inherited institutions that are really tailored for provincial governments, and autonomy means we have to have new laws, new mining laws, new public service law, new financial management law, inward investment law and so on and so forth. So these things must be put in place. In other words the ABG must start exercising the powers of autonomy and prepare for the referendum itself. Without this you come to a situation where people are expected to exercise their discretion on different options, especially two options - that's independence or full autonomy - and I think they will be put in a difficult situation because there will be a lot of frustration.
To listen to the Interview please click on the link below
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill visited the major construction sites for the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby today including the Games Village behind the University of PNG and the Aquatic Centre at 3Mile.
***** PM THANKS BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS. February 6th, 2014 *****
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill today (6/02/14) expressed the National Government’s gratitude towards the leaders and people of Bougainville for their kind welcome and generous hospitality, during his delegation’s recent visit to the region.
He said this during an interview on the FM100 Talkback Show, in Port Moresby and outlined the government’s commitment to assist Bougainville with infrastructure rehabilitation funding.
“The government will continue to honour its commitment in releasing K100 million annually for the remaining four years.
“The national government in 2012 made a commitment to allocate K500 million over a five-year period, to rehabilitate infrastructure throughout Bougainville.
“However, despite the first K100 million funding being released, last year (2013), nothing much has been done there,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
The Prime Minister said the monetary allocation was committed entirely to rehabilitate the rundown infrastructure throughout the region.
He also said the funding allocated last year was given to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and it is solely responsible for acquitting the funds.
“There are also Special Resolution Grants sitting in trust accounts that need to be spent on upgrading infrastructure there,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
He said with the history of the crisis and loss of lives it was important for the national government to go back and engage with the people of Bougainville and apologize traditionally for all the hardship created, not only for Bougainville but for PNG as well. “I believe these issues could have been better managed before it got out of hand.
“It has been an eye-opening experience for a national government delegation which I led into the region recently,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.
He thanked the ABG, particularly President Chief Dr John Momis and his Cabinet, along with the four MPs of Bougainville for their partnership and dedication in putting aside their differences and working together to move Bougainville forward.
“I also met with the President of the Me’ekamui Government, Philip Miriori, and other leaders including the Panguna landowners like Laurence Daveona and Sam Kaona,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.
The Prime Minister reiterated that the government still respects the Arawa Peace Agreement signed in 2001 and looks forward to implementing it. “Our aim of going to Bougainville was to try and restore government services in the region.
“We want our hospitals to be functioning well in Bougainville, the roads upgraded and sealed, and the Aropa Airport reopened,” the Prime Minister said.
“The government has already opened the Port in Kieta and has re-established PNG Power to distribute power throughout Arawa town,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill announced.
**** Government to raise tax threshold ****
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has indicated a possible increase in the tax threshold of ordinary workers from the current K10,000 to K20,000.
He said workers currently earning K1 to K10,000 are exempted from paying any taxes and that can be increased to K20,000 threshold after the review team comes in with its recommendations.
But there is a catch here. Before doing that the Government needs to increase its revenue base to cater for any further tax relief to the ordinary workers, he said
The PM said the current taxation review headed by Sir Nagora Bogan will consider all these taxation issues and tighten up loopholes that allows tax evasion by business houses.
Speaking on FM100’s Talk-back show yesterday, the Prime Minister encouraged all young Papua New Guineans to go into the "savings culture" to save for the future.
"The tax review team headed by Sir Nagora is already in place and I know that we have given tax relief to workers earning money from K1 to K10,000 per annum," he said.
"Yes we can increase it a little bit further; I think there is a need to increase that say an increase of up to K20,000 where Papua New Guineans earning up to K20,000 cannot pay tax.
"I want to stress this very carefully I know that the tax we are paying is fairly high, the only way we can reduce the tax is when the government has got a bigger revenue base.
"There are some people who are in business out there who are deliberately avoiding paying tax and we need to catch them, not the mums and dads and kids who are working but there are some business people who are making millions of kina are not paying their fair share of the tax.
"What we are now doing is changing the rules saying that if you are going to open up a company account in the bank or wherever you must have a tax file number, if you want to transfer money out of the country you must have a tax clearance first before you do that."
He said a lot of people doing business are involved in activities such as transfer pricing where they buy high invoices overseas and send their money out but sell at low cost in the country to avoid paying tax.
"We are now tightening up the way in registering and doing business in the country so as to capture everybody, some companies have been making loses for many years but are still operating, so those kind of people we will do tax audits, go back and reassess the value of their taxes over the last few years, so we will go back and governments can do that, they think they are smart now but we will catch up with them."
"So we are tightening up all the loopholes so that every person living and working in this country pay their fair share of tax so we can build better roads, better infrastructure to benefit the whole lot of us."
**** ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER, HON PETER O’NEILL, NATIONAL LEADERS SUMMIT, PORT MORESBY, 10th FEBRUARY 2014**** - FAST TRACKING IMPLEMENTATION THROUGH PARTNERSHIP
Ministers of State, Honourable Governors and Members of Parliament, Heads of Government Departments and Statutory Bodies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman. I welcome you all to the 2nd Annual National Leaders Summit. I hope we gather here today with the same sense of optimism as I have about our nation’s future.
Our collective task is to use this summit to work together to ensure that optimism becomes a reality. It is a solemn task that the people of our nation rightly expect us to devote our whole energy and focus towards achieving the best outcomes for them.
I want us to look at the nation’s future from several standpoints. The first is the future of our people – measured by better services and better access to services for every family, no matter where they live, measured by the well being of our people and the enhancement of opportunities for our people.
On improved services, and better access to services, we have made considerable progress – but not enough progress. This year we will push the reform of service delivery to a new level, through additional funding increase we provided in 2014 – and through direct funding to provincial, district and local government to fully empower them to play a greater role in not just service delivery, but in determining spending and project priorities.
We are serious about decentralising government – and genuine decision making – to the levels of governments that are closest to the people……and can therefore be most account able to the people.
When programs are decided at the community level, and then implemented at the community level, the people can watch implementation, and detect waste and mismanagement. Our Government has invested in the past twelve months close to K2 billion to the Provinces, Districts and LLG wards through the Service Improvement Programs.
This is a “work in progress” area……we have a long way to go before our “decentralisation” policies are fully implemented, and fully effective service delivery program that delivery a better quality of life for our people. But we have made a strong and committed start.
It is vital that Governors, provincial administrations, district administrations, local level government, and Members of the National Parliament, fully embrace our decentralisation agenda – and work in partnership with our Government for its full implementation.
We regard improved service delivery as the first steps towards locking in higher living standards. The second is to increase the participation of Papua New Guineans, and especially young Papua New Guineans, in our economy – through helping our people get into business, and grow existing businesses owned by our entrepreneurs.
The billions of Kina we are devoting to school education, and trade training and tertiary education – and that includes free school education for all children – won’t be fully effective in its contribution to nation building, and shared prosperity, if it is not matched by enhanced “opportunity”. And the most effective way the government can enhance “opportunity” for all is to grow our small to medium sized enterprise sector. And that is exactly what our government is now doing through increased funding and training.
The government has already rolling out a well-planned program that will grow our small business and medium sized business sectors – through helping our own people get into new businesses, and grow existing enterprises. The twelve point plan we are implementing is only going to work if all levels of government work together to make it easier for our people to get into business – and prosper in business.
That requires a commitment to cutting red tape approval processes, looking at taxes, fees and charges that impede business growth and success, and ensuring small and medium sized enterprises get a fair share of government contracts and government business. We are doing that by changing procurement process for contracts that are being awarded by Government to reserving certain levels to nationally owned businesses.
The real level of “national participation” in our economy, and in key growth areas of our economy, is nowhere near high enough. And it has most certainly not grown enough as the overall economy has grown.
We can change that for the better with the right policies, and if we work together.The next twelve months will be an historic and important period for our country and our economy.
Within twelve months from now we will become an exporter of LNG to the world. Joining other countries as a major LNG exporter is an exciting occasion for Papua New Guinea. But it brings with it equal challenges. We must manage wisely and well the substantial revenue inflows the National government, landowners and provincial governments will receive directly and indirectly.
We must ensure we continue to pursue other gas development projects – and ensure they value add through down-stream processing, and help ensure reliable and affordable electricity and gas for our homes, our businesses and our industries. The beginning of LNG production and export will lift our GDP to among the highest levels in the world.
But if we are to sustain the benefits over the medium to long term we must secure the development of more gas sector projects, and encourage new mining investment in what is a difficult international investment climate for our key resources.But we must also look at other ways to grow the economy – and increase the participation of our people in that growth.
That is why our policies to significantly boost involvement in small to medium sized enterprises are absolutely essential.
Our economy will perform consistently strongly if it is as diversified as possible. We have seen just in recent months the impact of an economy over-dependent on one sector…..mining. The best way we can cushion against unforseen and unmanageable impacts in any one sector is to broaden our economic base to the greatest extent possible.
Our government’s focus to grow other sectors of the economy like direct investment in Agriculture, building of Tourism facilities and increased expenditure in construction and infrastructure is aimed precisely to cushion the external shocks. Again, that is something all levels of government must work with our investors, and our own business people, to deliver.
Today I wish to speak on a number of priorities areas I believe our Government should focus on over the remaining 10 months of 2014.
I acknowledge that work on many of these priorities has already started in 2013 and continuing. Our main task this year is that we must fast track the implementation and completion of these projects.
The Education Sector has been one of the most challenging programmes, which we as a Government has undertaken. Our tuition fee free education policy has seen dramatic change in the way we deliver education to our children. There has been enormous increase in the number of enrolments since the policy was introduced in 2012. That trend is expected to continue this year.
Our Government this year also increased its funding to Higher Education Institutions which will see the much needed maintenance of their infrastructure and to build additional capacity to cater for increasing number of students.
We have inherited a system of education that fails our children. We failed them at Grade 6, we fail them at Grade 8, we fail them at Grade 10, and we fail them at Grade 12. Even that is not enough we fail them at our higher learning institutions.
We have failed majority of our citizens for the past 40 years and we accept that as being normal. We now have a population of majority adults that psychologically believe that they are failure in their life.
I say this is not good enough. I refuse to accept that we are failures. We are proud of who we are, proud of our people and our country. We must build a nation of winners through education.
We must this year, continue the compulsory free education to grade 12, continue the maintenance program, build new infrastructure to increase the number new intakes for next year at all levels of education, complete the new curriculum for schools to start next year and establish a training program for all educators to improve quality of education. All these must be in place by 2015.
In the Health Sector there are ongoing work of rehabilitation of the major hospitals in many provinces throughout the country. Many health facilities that were run down are now starting to look like places were sick people get better, not where our sick go to die.
There are noticeable improvements in the manner in which we provide health care to our people. Staff moral among our doctors, nurses and other health workers is on the rise because we are caring for their welfare and training better.
The distribution of medicines to our aid posts, health centres and hospitals are also getting better. Since 2012, the Government has fully funded the National Health Plan, on average of K1.5 billion per year.
Given that, we must see by year - end, more improvements in all health indicators, more health professionals are trained and much better care for our patients in all hospitals. The Law and Order Sector has also received substantial increase in funding over the past three years.
With that there is substantial work on rebuilding the PNG Constabulary both in terms of training manpower and physical structures including maintenance of police stations right across the Nation. The purchase of new equipment such as communications and vehicles are happening throughout the country. The welfare of policeman and women has also been boosted by construction of barracks and houses in many parts of the country.
There are increasing signs of improvement in the confidence of the man and women of the Constabulary. That has lead to a gradual decline in reported cases of serious crimes throughout country. The assistance of the Australian Federal Police has also provided positive attitude towards the work of our Constabulary.
In 2014, we expect this rebuilding exercise to continue with focus on discipline and work ethics being issues the leadership of the Constabulary will undertake.
There are similar rebuilding exercise going on in our Defense Force and Correctional Services. Again there has been increased funding for this sectors.
The pilot projects for the National Youth Service is a one of the many projects that these discipline forces need to undertake. We need to build the security forces that are now old, low in moral and with discipline a major problem.
Our combined task is re - gain the confidence and trust of our people and restore the pride of these forces. The story with our Infrastructure Sector is no different, it is in shocking state and needs to be re – build from ground up.
There are considerable amount of work going on as we speak. Our major highways from Hiritano, Magi, Highlands, Ramu, Sepik, New Britian, Bulumuski and Buka to Buin are now in stages of work and design. Our towns and cities are also experiencing similar level of work and attention.
In some areas work is slow due to unavailability of contractors and closure of PTB many years ago. But unlike any other years in the past 2014 we see a considerable ramping up of our works programme.
The other areas of infrastructure work are also taking shape in terms of airport and port developments. ADB funded upgrade of airport facilities are being implemented across the country. This is expected to continue with 4 major upgrades being under construction or design stages in Port Moresby, Lae, Mt Hagen and Kokopo. The seaports are being developed in parts of the country including Lae and Port Moresby.
In 2014 we need to stay on course to deliver the many projects now under construction and bring those at design stages to construction. Although procurement processes have been lengthy, this is now being streamlined to bring more projects forward quickly. As we can see, a lot of work is underway in key sectors that will be the foundation for a strong development program, which will deliver a strong economic growth for the country.
In addition, there are several major reforms that are taking place, the Public Service reform, starting with the new Public Service Management Act now before Parliament and the District Authority Bill, these will change the way government delivers services at all levels. Our aim in 2014 is empower public service to be more accountable to delivery and service rather than policy. Revamping of the entire public service is a priority in 2014.
The time has also come for the National Government to step up to the mark and reform the way State Owned Businesses and other entities operate.
The history of government owned businesses since Independence – including businesses that are service providers – is absolutely appalling.
Absolutely appalling – and with very few exceptions! The amount of scarce public money – taxpayers money - that has been wasted, stolen and misused by state owned corporations over the almost forty years since Independence runs into billions of kina.
The result has not just been money wasted, it has been poor service delivery, and service delivery that is increasingly costly.
Over the last year I have been challenging our resource sector, and our manufacturers and businesses to embrace the opportunities the “Asian Century” affords us. I have challenged them to be more efficient, more competitive in order we can do so. I have also challenged my own Ministers, and our Department Heads, to embrace reform as well.
This is all aimed at positioning Papua New Guinea to get the best outcomes from trade and investment relations with the Asian region, and the Asia Pacific region.
If we are to do better, and the private sector is to do better, then the government’s own businesses – which have an enormous impact on exports and imports and on business costs - must play their part.
Our government is absolutely determined to change, and change forever, not just the way state owned enterprises function, but we will also change the environment in which they function. We will this year look carefully at all state business entities.
We will pursue all options – including inviting direct competition, and requiring existing state businesses to secure partners who bring expertise, and capital.
The final few points that I wish to make today is that this year is going to be challenging year. Our Government has several significant reform agendas that include the introduction of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the National Identification programme and ongoing discussions on political and governance structures, which are all important agendas that will set the course for our country’s future prosperity.
Today, we live in a competitive global community that is competing for capital, skills and scarce resources. The sooner we acknowledge that we are not in competition with each other but we are competing with the rest of World, only then we can achieve the development outcomes we dare to dream for our people and our country.
HON PETER O’NEILL CMG MP
**** 2014 Leaders’ Summit, Opening Statement by Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, Kt. OBE Department of Prime Minister & National Executive Council. 10th February 2014 ****
- Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill, CMG, MP
- Honourable Ministers and Governors
- Heads of Departments, Statutory Authorities and Provincial
- Heads of our Overseas Missions
- Senior Officials
- Invited guests
- Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me at the outset officially welcome you all especially Prime Minister, honourable Ministers and Governors to this very important meeting for Government in 2014.
The primary purpose of this meeting is to:
1. For me and the Bureaucracy to account to you leaders Governments performance in 2013 in terms of the implementation of the key priority projects we agreed to undertake this time last year; and,
2. Allow for you leaders to consult each other and set the pace and direction for government to execute the 2014 budget with a view to accelerate implementation of our programmes and projects.
Prime Minister, as 2014 opens with new possibilities for greater achievements for the Government, 2013 will be remembered as one of the most challenging yet successful year for the Government. As the first year of implementation since the Government assumed Office in late 2012, expectations are not always easy to meet at times
but the sincerity of all genuiness to move this Country forward was all but evident in the spirit of unity and actions undertaken by leaders in the last 12 months.
2013 was a year the government took a great leap forward in restoring vital basic services to our people. For the first time since 1975, there was clear unity of purpose and accountability at best. The emphasis on speeding up implementation and delivery of key high impact projects was obvious. Prime Minister, the positive gains of 2013 are of course not without challenges and ongoing issues:
1.A systematic Whole of Government monitoring of implementation is clearly lacking.
2. Acquittals or rather the lack of it continue to lurk.
3. Lack of connectivity especially between National Departments of Health and Education and Provinces continue to recur over ‘territorial wars’.
4. Lack of funding or adequate funding and non-compliance with PIP requirements for projects to be fully scoped and designed before submitting to the Department of National Planning & Monitoring are keys concerns that must be resolved sooner than later. I note clearly these issues and I am working with agencies responsible to fix them.
Prime Minister, during the Departmental Heads Meeting on Tuesday last week there were a number of issues raised, which I felt that must be brought to the attention of you leaders.
1.Some priorities were not funded in 2013 and 2014. Departments, Agencies and Provincial Administrations were asked to resubmit their project proposals for 2015;
2. Constitutional Offices requested if National Government can consider their budget proposals separate from the rest of other Agencies;
3. Department of National Planning & Monitoring requested all Departments, Agencies and provincials governments to adhere to the Public Investment Program process;
Prime Minister, I seek the full endorsement of this meeting in principal to start working through these issues.
And Finally, Prime Minister, let me close by saying that the realisation that strong and decisive leadership is crucial to PNG’s success is having a positive impact on better coordination among the implementing Agencies. Interaction between leaders at political and bureaucratic levels has dramatically improved with more recognition being given to political leaders taking responsibility in the driver’s seat.
This is indeed a solid platform for Government to now accelerate implementation in 2014 and beyond.
The outlook for 2014 is therefore positive. Thankyou and I now invite the Prime Minister to deliver his key note opening address.
***** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill calls on leaders to remain focused *****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has called on leaders to remain focus and fast track implementation of service deliver through partnership in 2014.
In his keynote address at the Leaders Summit at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby yesterday, Mr O’Neill called on the leaders to use the summit to work together to deliver the best outcomes to the people of this country.
The Prime Minister told the leaders that he hoped that all that gathered had the same sense of optimism about the nation’s future and its development.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said there are several standpoints to look at the nation’s future with the Summit theme ‘accelerating implementation’. "The first is the future of our people – measured by better services and better access to services for every family, no matter where they live, measured by the well being of our people and the enhancement of opportunities for our people," he said.
"On improved services, and better access to services, we have made considerable progress – but not enough progress.” He said this year the priority is to push the reform of service delivery to a new level, through additional funding increase provided in 2014 – and through direct funding to provincial, district and local government to fully empower them to play a greater role in not just service delivery, but in determining spending and project priorities.
"We are serious about decentralising government – and genuine decision making – to the levels of governments that are closest to the people and can therefore be most account able to the people. "When programs are decided at the community level, and then implemented at the community level, the people can watch implementation, and detect waste and mismanagement."
He said the government has invested in the past 12 months close to K2 billion to the provinces, districts and LLG wards through the Service Improvement Programs. "This is a ‘work in progress’ area; we have a long way to go before our decentralisation policies are fully implemented, and fully effective service delivery program that delivery a better quality of life for our people," he said.
The Prime Minister said governors, provincial ad-ministrations, district ad-ministrations, local level governments and MPs must embrace the decentralisation agenda – and work in partnership with Government for its full implementation. "We regard improved service delivery as the first steps towards locking in higher living standards," he said.
He also stressed the need for increased participation of Papua New Guineans, and especially the young, in the economy – through helping our people get into business, and grow existing businesses owned by our entrepreneurs. "The billions of Kina we are devoting to school education, and trade training and tertiary education – and that includes free school education for all children – won’t be fully effective in its contribution to nation building, and shared prosperity, if it is not matched by enhanced ‘opportunity’," he said.
He said PNG joining other countries as a major LNG exporter is an exciting occasion but brings with it equal challenges. "We must manage wisely and well the substantial revenue inflows the National government, landowners and provincial governments will receive directly and indirectly."
"We must ensure we continue to pursue other gas development projects – and ensure they value add through down-stream processing, and help ensure reliable and affordable electricity and gas for our homes, our businesses and our industries.” "The beginning of LNG production and export will lift our GDP to among the highest levels in the world."
"But if we are to sustain the benefits over the medium to long term we must secure the development of more gas sector projects, and encourage new mining investment in what is a difficult international investment climate for our key resources."
**** ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER, HON PETER O’NEILL, CMG MP, CONFERENCE OF THE HEADS OF PNG DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS, PORT MORESBY, 11 FEBRUARY 2014 ****
I thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and the Acting Secretary, for inviting me to address you this morning.
This is an exciting time to be representing Papua New Guinea in the missions you head – representing not just the government, but the people as well.
I say it is an exciting time because our regional and international standing and engagement is being taken to new levels, levels that require the wholehearted engagement of our High Commissioners, our Ambassadors, and our Consuls General and Consuls.
Your conference this week is an opportunity to bring you right up to date on our growing regional and international engagement and to work with you to decide how you can help us deliver the best possible outcomes in arrange of interesting and challenging areas.
We need an “all hands to the wheel” approach to diplomacy, to trade, and to people-to-people relationships.
I will be instructing the Minister and the Acting Secretary that all our missions, and all our diplomatic professional staff, must be fully briefed on the strategies and policies we are pursuing – and in turn we expect everyone to have a total commitment to their implementation.
I recognise at the very outset that for too long our missions have been underfunded and inadequately resourced. And for too long the payment of salaries and allowances, and meeting essential operating costs, has also been less than adequate. I am assured that improvements have been made, and will continue to be made during this year.
What I hope is that you will bear with us as, we try and overcome the consequences of underspending and inadequate attention to our diplomatic missions. And what I especially hope is that these shortcomings don’t diminish your efforts on behalf of our nation and our people at this critical juncture in our history.
I am confident your professionalism as diplomatic representatives will continue to ensure you give your very best – even when conditions are trying.
- PROMOTING A MATURING NATION GROWING IN INFLUENCE OVERSEAS
With those words of introduction, and perhaps apology and explanation, I want to outline to you some of the challenges and opportunities our growing and broadening influence regionally and internationally offer you, your missions, and your staff.
Anyone who doubts our growing influence need look no further than at the history making decision for Papua New Guinea as the host nation for the 2018 APEC Leader’s Summit.
This will be our most important international event since Independence. It reflects just how far we have grown and matured as a nation over what has been a relatively short period.
What is for now and the period until then is an important challenge for all our international missions, and especially our heads of missions.
We must ensure that our presence in the Asia-Pacific nations that form APEC is of the highest quality – and that means quality of behaviour and standing as well as the quality of our representation in all its forms.
And we need to have the highest quality, the highest standards, of representation in all our missions as our regional and international standing grows.
I am sure you will agree with me this is a basic requirement – and I am equally sure you will commit yourselves, and your staff, to upholding it.
I will be making very clear to the Minister and the Acting Secretary that there must be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any incident that brings embarrassment on Papua New Guinea, and on our diplomatic service.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not just the hosting of APEC in 2018 that should be making you more enthusiastic and committed than ever today and in the immediate period ahead.
If you look at our nation’s economy today and our prospects for this year and beyond, you will surely believe that there has never been a better time than now to be promoting Papua New Guinea in the nations you are accredited to.
That brings me to the key message I want to leave with you today. I appreciate the time you need to devote to the diplomatic and consular aspects of your roles. We must always achieve the highest standards of performance in these key areas.
But I want to challenge each of you to make an extra effort to “promote” our nation, and our people in the countries you represent us. And I want that “promotion” to include promoting Papua New Guinea as a sound place in which to invest, and do business.
I want to harness your valuable resource, and that of your staff, to promote Papua New Guinea – and in doing so help us to overcome some of the negative, inaccurate and dishonest publicity our nation receives beyond our shores.
Some of that “publicity” might not make it into the media in the countries you serve in – but modern communication means it is often accessible online.
I want you to be pro-active in promoting the positive image of our country, and our future. Our Government is committed to further improve our investment environment;
We are also committed to promoting tourism.
We also want to create the right environment for our exporters – our agricultural producers, our marine products sector, and our mining and petroleum sectors. We must face up to the reality that the regional and world trading environments are becoming more competitive. That is not going to slow down – if anything it will grow even more rapidly.
The increasing number of free trade agreements between major countries in our region presents a real challenge for our exporters. It is a challenge my government is willing to help our exporters meet – we are moving to make doing business, and producing export commodities, less costly and more efficient.
We are improving the vital infrastructure exporters and business generally is rightly demanding. And we are improving the skills and capacity of Papua New Guineans to play a meaningful role in the economy, and the workforce in particular. But we have negative and distorted perceptions that are deliberately been spread at home and abroad.
They must be countered, and I seek your full support in helping us to do so. I believe we need to think “outside the square” when it comes to informing overseas countries, and businesses and peoples of the real Papua New Guinea.
We need to be far more “engaged” with modern media and communications. But we also need to “engage” more directly with investors, and with influential community groups – directly with universities and “think tanks” among others.
The Asian Century offers us a unique chance to really strengthen our trade links with the nations of the fastest growing region of the world.
We have the food, the energy, the minerals, the rapidly growing nations of the Asian region need. But we will not get a “free run”. We will have to compete with other countries – and we will be judged on quality, price and reliability.
Our diplomatic relations with the region are in great shape – and that helps. But we have to be prepared to compete – and compete much harder than we have done. I see our diplomatic missions playing a greater role in promoting both trade and investment. I am open to consider how we can better resource you to do so.
I hope you will use your conference this week to keep yourselves abreast of the rapidly changing and exciting times in which we as Papua New Guineans live….and how you can contribute to the many opportunities we are blessed to have. I hope that our diplomatic service will be at the front of the line when it comes to promoting our nation, attracting quality investors, and encouraging trade.
I thank you for your service, and I know that some of you have served our nation in various roles for many years. I thank you for that special service.
I also thank you for your tolerance at times when you have been let down by our bureaucracy and even by Ministers – and Prime Ministers perhaps also! On our collective behalf I apologise for that! We must do better – and I am confident we will. We will together make Foreign Service the best department to work again.
Thank you for your patience this morning. It has been a pleasure to be able to speak to you on areas I hope you have an interest in.
I wish you a successful conference – and a safe return to your overseas posts.
**** PM: WORK ON CONVENTION CENTRE TO RESUME *****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill has reaffirmed that the China Railway Company (CRC) will commence building the Waigani Convention Centre by the end of this month.
He said works had ceased after the Chinese contractors were physically assaulted by youths at the building site in Port Moresby, mid last year.
"The PNG Government has reassured the Chinese Government that it will beef up and provide additional security (police) presence at the site, in order to have the building ready by 2018.
"The Chinese Government has agreed to resume the construction of the centre, to cater for the APEC Leaders' Summit in 2018," Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill announced.
He said this is a very important asset for PNG and should be appreciated by the people of PNG.
"I have directed the Police Minister to beef up police units to provide additional security for these builders day-in day-out.
"The Government will be working very closely with the Chinese Government to ensure that its projects in Port Moresby as well as throughout the country, will are completed without any hindrances," Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said.
He also urged youths roaming the streets and causing nuisance as such in society to refrain from getting involved in criminal activities and use their energy to do something productive for themselves and the community.
**** GOVT TAKES COMPULSORY LAND ACQUISITION MEASURES ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill has called on all illegal occupants of public land sites to take note that the National Capital District will implement compulsory land acquisition measures to retrieve land, which were illegally acquired in the past.
A Land Trust has been set up by the NCD Governor , Powes Parkop, and his colleague MP's to retrieve these land sites for recreational purposes.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said this is a Pilot Project to be implemented initially in Port Moresby and then later in other parts of the country.
"This decision was made by the government to establish public recreational parks for our residents to enjoy their leisure time," Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said.
He said it is important that the government set up quality parks for our people to take walks and spend time outdoors with their families.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill was applauded and thanked by Mr Parkop for this important initiative along with other interventions the National Government has undertaken in the nation's capital.
**** Govt keen on getting more public participation, February 12th, 2014 ****
The Government intends to increase people’s participation in national development through major reforms it has undertaken in its priority sectors, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says. He told the annual National Leaders Summit in Port Moresby on February 10th that the Government’s vision was to engage young people in the economy by helping them get into businesses, and grow existing businesses owned by locals.
“The billions of kina we are devoting to school education and trade training and tertiary education – and that includes free school education for all children – won’t be fully effective in its contribution to nation building, and shared prosperity, if it is not matched by enhanced opportunity,” he said.
“And the most effective way the Government can enhance opportunity for all is to grow our small to medium sized enterprise sector.
“That is exactly what our Government is now doing through increased funding and training.”
O’Neill said the Government had rolled out a programme to develop small and medium-sized businesses.
He said the 12-point plan the Government was implementing was going to work if all levels of government worked together to make it easier for the people to get into business.
“That requires a commitment to cutting red tape approval processes, looking at taxes, fees and charges that impede business growth and success, and ensuring small and medium sized enterprises get a fair share of government contracts and government business,” he said.
**** Prime Minister - Promote PNG abroad ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has challenged heads of diplomatic missions serving abroad to promote the country wherever they are.
He told them at a meeting in Port Moresby on Tuesday that they should promote PNG to the world that it was a safe place to invest in and do business.
“I want to harness your valuable resource and that of your staff to promote PNG and in doing so help us to overcome some of the negative, inaccurate and dishonest publicity our nation receives beyond our shores,” he said. “Some of that publicity might not make it into the media in the countries you serve in but modern communication means it is often accessible online.”
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill urged the diplomats to be proactive in promoting a positive image of PNG and its future.
He said the Government was committed to further improving the country’s investment environment and promoting tourism. “We want to create the right environment for our exporters, our agricultural producers, our marine products sector and our mining and petroleum sectors,” he said.
“We must face up to the reality that the regional and world trading environments are becoming more competitive – that is not going to slow down.”
He said increasing the number of free-trade agreements between major countries in the region presented a challenge for Papua New Guinea exporters.
He told the conference that the government was improving vital infrastructure that exporters and businesses were demanding.
**** Commissioner praises Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill ****
The acting National Youth Commissioner Norit Luio heaped praise on Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill and the National Executive Council for approving the new bill, that is, the National Youth Development Authority Act 2013 which replaces the National Youth Commission Act 1999. “I am so thankful to NEC headed by Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill for their timely action to approve the new Act. The new Act will ensure youths in PNG are well prioritised to lead by participating towards rural development and it is the current government’s focus to move this nation forward,” Mr Luio said.He added that for the NEC to approve such an important Act that is long overdue is a milestone. On behalf of NYDA, all youths and its stakeholders, he highly commended Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his cabinet for their foresight in recognizing youths. Mr Luio said the endorsement by cabinet is a true demonstration of the O’Neill/Dion government’s political will and commitment in putting young people in the country in the centre of sustainable development. “The review of the NYC Act 1999 has become necessary as under our agreed Priority Activity – the Revitalisation Program.”“The essence of having such agency as National Youth Commission remains unaltered but the delivering mechanisms have been gone uncoordinated for so long since independence. The NYC Act 1999 outlived its legislative purpose” said Mr Luio. “Therefore NYDA Act 2013 is a deliberate strategy as an integrated and a coherent approach with an aim to put young people at the centre of sustainable development,” he said.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill meeting with U.S Congressman Jason Chaffetz
**** STANLEY GAS PROJECT FOCUSES ON DOMESTIC MARKET, February 19th ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill met with two new oil and gas companies, who have jointly expanded their investments in Papua New Guinea.The companies include the Horizon Oil (Papua) Ltd and the Osaka Gas Co. Ltd of Japan who have agreed to explore and develop the substantive acreage and reserves in the Western Province including the Stanley Project.Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill met the CEO of the Horizon Oil Ltd, Brent Emmett, and the Senior Executive Officer of the Osaka Gas Company, Hidetaka Matsuzaka, along with his delegation in Parliament yesterday afternoon (18/02/14).Osaka Gas is Japan’s second largest gas company and a global leader in liquefied natural gas development, shipping and distribution.“The government has embraced this joint venture between these two companies, given their requisite LNG experience, financial strength and market for the product to help implement PNG’s third LNG project,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. He welcomed the proposal for the gas to be engaged in the domestic market. “This is good news as it will provide for our energy needs in the country,” the Prime Minister said.He also acknowledged that the Osaka Gas will be a major buyer of LNG from the PNG LNG Project during its initial export this year.“Osaka Gas has already made a serious commitment to PNG and is expected to grow in the years to come,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. He said the national government appreciates these foreign investments and further extend invitations to other firms with growing investment interests to have confidence in his government.
**** PM: Manus incident under investigation. February 19th, 2014 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said he was briefed on the incident in Manus involving transferees at the Manus Regional Processing Centre (MRPC).“I was advised yesterday of a major disturbance involving transferees at the MRPC that has resulted in a death and several transferees receiving injuries that require treatment at the hospital. “Three seriously injured transferees were evacuated to Australia for further medical treatment.“I am also advised that the incident has resulted in 8 transferees being detained at the Lorengau Police Station.“The deceased is an Iranian national who died at the hospital from serious injuries sustained during the fight at the centre.“It is most regrettable that this incident has occurred. Police, Defence and Immigration Department officials are now in Manus and a thorough investigation is underway. “The situation at the Centre now appears stable and under control.“The preliminary investigations suggest that less than 50% of the 1,400 transferees at the centre were involved in the disturbances.“I want to state clearly here that any instances of criminality and breach of PNG law will be dealt with by the proper lawful authorities. The government will not tolerate anyone breaking the laws of Papua New Guinea”.“I spoke to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott this afternoon about this incident, and we both agree with the measures taken to address this situation.“I also assured Mr Abbott that PNG remains committed to the resettlement program, and finding a lasting solution to the global challenge of human smuggling and illegal trafficking of persons in the region,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.The team headed by Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura is also meeting local leaders including Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin, the mayor of Lorengau town, and individual service providers at the centre as part of its investigations.
**** Good infrastructure vital for agriculture. February 20th, 2014 ****
Agriculture Minister and Middle Ramu MP Tommy Tomscoll says maintenance of infrastructure and storage facilities is vital for the survival of the agriculture industry.The majority of the people of Papua New Guinea live in the rural areas, where they depend on agriculture and need to sell crops for their day to day living, he said.After being asked by the Mendi MP De Kewanu, to outline development plans for agriculture that may guarantee the growth of the industry for mass production in the long run, Mr Tomscoll said his team was looking at establishing and maintaining existing road and market infrastructure to help the people selling crops to survive.Finding market for crops is also a problem and the Fresh Produce Development Authority (FPDA) assists in having locally grown crops to be sold in retail shops."The fruits and vegetable industry in PNG is about K3 billion and Port Moresby alone is worth about K600 million and a lot of this market is supplied by imports," said Mr Tomscoll.It was highlighted in the parliament session that food crops are already rotten and are not worth selling by the time they reach the shop shelves.It was found by Mr Tomscoll that the main problem was transportation and storage and said that he had secured funding to address this issue during his last trip with Prime Minister Peter O’Neil to New Zealand.Talks with New Zealand officials ended with a NZ$16 million deal (about K26 million) to assist farmers in PNG.This money will also fund the construction of proper storage houses to help ensure the crops for rural people last longer.Mr Tomscoll told the Parliament that anyone interested in submitting proposals for agricultural developments must go through FPDA.He also commended Mr Kewanu for his part in assisting the Mendi rural communities in the agriculture sector and urged the other MPs to follow suit.Notable agricultural applications in recent times for guaranteed agricultural growth include the establishment of a rice project in the Central Province, livestock farming project previously known as the Ilimo Farm and building of storage centre in Kainantu in Eastern Highlands.
**** Government passes new bill. February 20th, 2014 ****
The Government yesterday unanimously passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2014.This now replaces the Companies Act of 1997. Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru said the amendments would bring it up to par with the ever-changing corporate governance and practices.Further, to be in line with the government’s policy to increase the small to medium enterprises (SMEs) from 40,000 to 500,000 by 2030.Mr Maru, in introducing the changes, said the act passed in 1997 had been modelled on the New Zealand Companies Act and had been designed to simplify the business registration process.However, Mr Maru said since its introduction, there had been significant changes in the way business was conducted.He said the thrust of the proposed amendments bill was to simplify the registration and filing processes, to make it easy and accessible for everyone.He said the amendment would also introduce a new online lodgement system where business people could conduct their activities, including new company registrations, lodgement of annual returns, conduct of searches, printing of certificates and extracts through the internet from the comfort of their home, office or wherever.Mr Maru said the changes would also protect company files from unauthorised changes, which he said was a prevailing issue in the country, especially with landowner companies from the resource sector."The proposed sector, through the online system, will allow the director approved by the registrar of companies to conduct changes to company records. A director or agent approved by the board of the company will be required to be registered as a user under the new online sustem and will be issued with a special identification number and password."Only persons approved by the registrar will conduct lodgements. This is to get rid of those who have been making unauthorised changes to the records of companies," Mr Maru said.
**** PNG Politics is maturing, along with PNG as a Country. February 24th, 2014****
Since the elections in 2012, Papua New Guinea has experienced a vast amount of change and stability. This stability has seen the advancements across education, health, infrastructure, the economy and law & order.The international Governments, Private sectors and International communities have also recognized the changes made by the current Government of O’Neill / Dion.The Government of O’Neill / Dion during there term, has set high expectations on themselves. These high expectations for achievement could have potentially set them up for failure, but only due to them wanting to achieve so much in a 5 year term for PNG.Many of the programs being implemented under the current Government, have never been seen before. The policies below were the brain child of the current Prime Minister and his party the People’s National Congress (PNC):- Tuition Fee Free education;- Investment in quality higher education;- Free Health Care;- Significant Infrastructure funding;- Transfer of funds to sub national governments under the- Decentralisation strategy;- Policy to support growth in agriculture, tourism and SME.The Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill, termed the “Can Do Prime Minister” by the international community, has been under pressure from day one in the top job.In a recent conversation with the Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill, he commented “Papua New Guinea is seeing a time of stability, leadership and challenges. Our Government is here to do a job for the people of Papua New Guinea. This job is to deliver on the many services that our people have been deprived of over the last 20 years. I am not here in this job to look backwards, I am here to move this country forward. We are a young country, with lots of opportunity and I am an impatient man. We have lots to do, and we are not here to go slow.”In reviewing the facts around the Government investment in the 2014 budget, it is clear to see that this Government means business. The Government is investing heavily in key areas all across Papua New Guinea, with the largest areas of funding including: Infrastructure receives (K2,723.3 million), Health receives (K1,382.3 million), Law and Order receives (K1,296.0 million) including funding for provincial and local level government magistrates, Administration receives (K3,747.7million), Provinces receives (K3,638.4 million), Social receives (K227.1 million) and Education receives (K1,501.7 million) which includes K10 million for accreditation and infrastructure for the university of Technology and Economic and Agriculture receive (K777.9 million). To promote tourism and economic development, the budget invests K30 million to upgrade Port Moresby‟s airport, K15 million for Kokopo‟s airport, K10 million for New Ireland.“Since my time in Politics, one thing that is always overlooked by both the Politicians and the PNG People, are the facts. If you were to read the social media and other media items, I have reportedly meant to have been arrested over 6 times in the past 3 months. None of this is true, not at any point. Our Government and my party have also been targeted over the past few months trying to suggest a change in leadership. Lets be clear on this item. The PNC and the Government Ministers supporting the PNC are intact. My party the PNC, won the elections based on solid foundations of policy and strategies for the country. We implemented the policies, we have stuck by our policies, we are investing in our policies and we are seeing the changes being achieved. While 90% of the PNG parliament is maturing and working for positive outcomes, the Opposition continues with nonsense trying to get people believe there is corruption at hand, that the leadership is changing, that the PNC is falling apart. None of this is true and it has never been true.”So with the investment happening as part of a record 2014 budget, a determined Prime Minister with a very clear message of “we are here to implement and achieve for PNG”. The future seems very bright for the coming years.
**** Fiji president visiting. February 24th, 2014 ****
FIJI President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will meet Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio and Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill when he arrives today for a three-day visit.Ratu Epeli, a former commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, will be welcomed at a guard of honour by members of the PNG Defence Force at Murray Barracks.O’Neill will host a state dinner tonight for the visiting president.Ratu Epeli is in the country as part of his tour of Pacific island countries to thank governments for supporting the Fiji government in its efforts to return Fiji to parliamentary democracy after the military coup of Dec 5, 2006.O’Neill has committed K50 million to Fiji to help in the holding of the general election later this year. A PNG Government delegation will formally hand over the amount to the Fiji government next month. Ratu Epeli will tomorrow attend a breakfast hosted by the PNG-Fiji Business Council.He will unveil a plaque at the Murray Barracks Officers’ Mess to mark the K15,000 initiative undertaken by the PNG-Fiji Business Council to upgrade the facility. He leaves for Timor Leste on Wednesday afternoon.
**** Free health care. February 24th, 2014 ****
The Government's free health care policy will be implemented starting today.Health Secretary Mr Pascoe Kase announced this last Friday in Port Moresby. "After more than 10 months of drafting this policy, getting it endorsed and approved by the National Executive Council, it is now ready to be implemented," Mr Kase said.He said as of today no fees will be charged on all primary health care services. "We want to make it clear to all our officers in charge of all health centres and hospitals, medical officers and chief executive officers of public hospitals that the policy and the law has been imposed as of today."People attending to all health facilities at aidposts, health centres and district hospitals for treatment will not pay for all services."However, Mr Kase said people will still pay for specialised services provided at the provincial hospitals but at a 50 per cent reduced cost. Outpatient, medical drugs and delivery of babies and other primary services will be free of charge. However, specialised services like dentistry and cancer therapy will require half payment from the patients.
***PM: GOVT RECOGNIZES PRIVATE SECTOR IMPORTANCE. February 25th ***
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill reassured the private sector today (25/02/14) that his government appreciates the efforts by the business community to grow our economy and recognizes it as an important partner in nation-building. Addressing business executives at a breakfast at the Royal Papuan Yacht Club in Port Moresby this morning, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said his government will work closely with the private sector to address its needs.“The government acknowledges that it is impossible for our economy to grow without the private sector,” he said.The highlight of the breakfast was the launch of an Asian Development Bank (ADB) sponsored study called the ‘Challenges of Doing Business in Papua New Guinea: an analytical report by the Institute of National Affairs on the 2012 Business Environment Survey’.Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said reforms are vital; hence the government has established the Sovereign Wealth Fund to secure the promising revenue from our oil and gas sectors.“We have also reformed the budget process to have multi-budgeting projects, where quality projects are carried out over a longer period of time.“We are also embarking on tax reviews for fairness on our investors, making PNG conducive for investment,” he said.Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said the government is committed to rehabilitating existing infrastructure, with assistance from recognized financial institutions that promote economic and social progress in the Asia-Pacific region, like the ADB.“Our government systems and public service may not be the best in the world but I can assure you that they will improve over time.“The next five years will be vital for PNG, as we will receive substantial revenue from our oil and gas sectors. However, if we do not utilize these revenues wisely, we will lose out on all our wealth and resources,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.He said the coalition government, which he heads, will continue to remain focussed, in order to give assurance to the private sector, our people and foreign investors.“We look forward to having an even better survey report in the next five years,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.The breakfast was hosted by the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
**** Cabinet reshuffle. February 25th, 2014 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has announced a minor cabinet reshuffle that has seen the dumping of William Duma as Minister for Petroleum and David Arore as Higher Education Minister. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill also announced the appointment of Gumine MP Nick Kuman as Minister for Education, Sohe MP Delilah Gore as Minister for Higher Education and Henganofi MP Robert Atiyafa as Minister for Police. The reshuffle has also resulted in the elevation of Madang MP and former Police Minister Nixon Duban to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, replacing Mr Duma. Mr Duma, who is the Hagen MP, is also the leader of the United Resources Party and a signatory to the Alotau Accord that helped formed the current government under Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill. The People’s National Congress Party is the winner in the reshuffle, adding Petroleum and Energy Ministry to its ranks apart from Police and Education that the party was holding as per the coalition partners’ Alotau Accord. Mr Arore, who is a member of the Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party, has been replaced by party colleague Ms Gore as Higher Education Minister. Party leaders present at Government House included The Party leader Don Polye, State Enterprises Minister Ben Micah, Enga Governor Peter Ipatas, Hela Governor Anderson Agiru, Finance Minister James Marape and National Planning Minister Charles Abel.
**** PM: Decision based on performance, stability. February 25th, 2014 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said URP still remains part of the government and Mr Duma is still leader of the Party and any decision the party wants to take is up to the party as he has not sacked the Party but just the decommissioning of one minister. “It’s not been an easy day. It’s not easy to dismiss a colleague from office but sometimes we have to take these decisions in the interest of our country,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said at a media conference after the swearing in of the new ministers yesterday. “I think by taking this hard decisions we do it because we can put a bit more greater focus on what we are here for in the first place.” He said he consulted all the coalition partners before making the decision as he believed that stability is very important although some are personal friends and sometimes such decisions have to be taken. “Party leaders are subject to the same rules of conduct and must ensure that they provide stability in government, adhere to solidarity in cabinet and that is the message I want to give to everyone,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. “We are a team and we must be working together, not one pulling the other way and the rest of us pulling forward in making changes that is necessary for our country. “I think this will provide further stability to our government and continue to implement the good policies that we have. I have decided to make these changes after 18 months of government since 2012 election. My decision is based on performance, teamwork and stability.” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill thanked the outgoing ministers for their service to the government and the country and welcomed the new ones. “I have every confidence in ministers Kuman, Gore and Atiyafa as they bring into cabinet a wealth of knowledge and experience drawn from many years of active service in polices, government and public service,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. He said Mr Duban has been specifically tasked to oversee the completion of major petroleum and gas projects such as the commissioning of the LNG processing facilities for train 1 and 2 of the PNG LNG project, development of train 3 and the Elk Antelope project in the Gulf Province headed by Total and other gas projects in the Western Province. He said Mr Duban has been instructed to ensure that policy and regulatory issues, including clan vetting that have been pending in the oil and gas industry, are immediately addressed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. He said while Mr Duban was a first term MP, he has the necessary credentials to handle the challenging requirements of the Petroleum and Energy Ministry. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has also instructed all other ministers to develop short and medium term plans to implement all major policy initiatives of the Alotau Accord under various portfolios within the next three and a half years before the 2017 elections. He said their performance will be measured and monitored against set goals that they and the department/agencies are expected to deliver in the coming months.
**** A Second Woman has been appointed as a Minister of State. February 25th, 2014 ****
The first woman to be declared as an MP in the 2012 national election – Sohe MP Delilah Gore – has been appointed as Minister for Higher Education. She now joins the member for Lae, Loujaya Kouza, who is Community Development Minister. Previously PNG had only one woman minister who is now retired – Dame Carol Kidu. The newly appointed minister replaces her THE party colleague in Ijivitari MP David Arore. Both are from the Oro Province. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill, when congratulating Ms Gore, said her appointment as a minister reflects his government’s belief and trust in women leaders. Before contesting the 2012 elections Ms Gore was the Ijivitari district treasurer. Since Independence PNG has had eight women MPs and a single woman minister in all parliamentary terms until the 2012 elections. This will be a record in itself for this term of Parliament which has seen three women being elected and now two women in Cabinet.
**** Mums thank Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill for attending service. February 26th, 2014 ****
Mothers in the Highlands region have praised Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill for paying respect to the late Schola Kakas and attending her funeral service along with some of his cabinet ministers.Southern Highlands Council of Women leader Margaret Kawa said Kakas was the president of the National Council of Women and what the government did had brought them tears of joy.She said Highlands women had not been regarded highly nor respected as they had deserved during funeral services but this was a new chapter in their lives as they saw that the O’Neill government was there to promote gender equality.“We mothers deserve respect from the community we hailed from. People forgot how special we were. We are the backbone of this country,” she said.Kawa said she believed that the government would help the women network in the country as the arrival of high-ranking delegates at the funeral service of a women leader was something they would treasure.“We have always talked about promoting women and gender equality but nothing has been seen done and this will be a stepping stone for everyone in the country to understand how special mothers are,” she said.
**** Electoral Commission launches gender policy. February 27th, 2014 ****
The Electoral Commission (PNGEC) has initiated a policy in support of gender equality in working environments.The policy, called "Gender work-place and social inclusion policy", was launched yesterday by Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc during the commissions’ dedication service at the Sioni Kami memorial church yesterday.Sir Manasupe commended the the Electoral Commission for taking steps to address gender equality by developing its own policy."I understand the policy is in-line with the national government and United Nation’s agenda on gender equality," Sir Manasupe said.He said the policy painted the commission’s commitment not only to gender equality but to rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and participation of people with disabilities.Sir Manasupe said the policy will make elections more inclusive and accessible because it is based of principles of equity, fairness and a ‘do no harm’ approach.Chief Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen said the policy was part of its mainstreaming strategies and the recognition of cross cutting issues in the electoral process.Mr Trawen said the commission has undertaken a strong commitment to the development an dnow the implementation of the gender work-place and social inclusion policy in all its branches at the headquarters in Port Moresby as well as its provincial and district offices throughout the country."This is to ensure active participation, accessibility and social inclusion of women, people living with disability, people living with HIV/AIDS and other marginalised groups in all aspects of elections", Mr Trawen said.The Electoral Commission also announced that it has taken drastic steps to address gender equality at work places by promoting women in key positions.The commission has two female branch directors out of six within its senior management ranks; three female regional managers out of four in the country; and two female election managers out of 21 election managers.Mr Trawen said the commission will continue to promote and support females in the organisation.
**** US$239m loan for roads, air services. February 27th, 2014 ****
The Government has secured a $US239 million (K579m) loan from the Asian Development Bank to improve roads in the Highlands region and air services in the country.Treasury Minister Don Polye and ADB country sirector Marcelo Minc signed the agreements yesterday in Port Moresby.The second tranche of the Highlands Roads Improvement Programme will cost US$109 million. It will be carried out by the Works Department.The Civil Aviation Development Investment Programme (CADIP) costing US$130 million will be undertaken by the National Airports Corporation. “The road programme approved in 2008 is a US$750 million plan that aims to make transport more safe and accessible by connecting rural roads to main roads and making provision for public transport,” Minc said.“Under the first tranche, 115km of roads are being rehabilitated between Laiagam-Porgera (65km) and Mendi-Kandep (50km) using four locally-owned construction firms employing more than 500 nationals and providing improved market access and income earning opportunities for the people of Enga and Southern Highlands.”He said the US$130 million loan was for 21 national airports that served more than three million people annually.He said the programme would strengthen the safety, accessibility and reliability of air services. It is expected to open new economic opportunities in regional centres.“To date, the CADIP has upgraded airport facilities at Port Moresby’s Jackson Airport,” Minc said. “It includes expanding the domestic parking apron, installing an updated instrument landing system and procuring three new fire safety trucks.“The pavement at Hoskins Airport (West New Britain) will be upgraded and terminal facilities at Mt Hagen Airport (Western Highlands) would also be improved.”Minc said CADIP had improved safety and security in five regional airports by installing fences which were identified as requiring emergency works. They include Hoskins, Wewak (East Sepik), Kavieng (New Ireland), Gurney (Milne Bay) and Goroka (Eastern Highlands) to comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation safety and security standards.Polye said the Government would provide counterpart funding of K217.17 million.“The provision of transport infrastructure in PNG has been hindered by our rugged geographic conditions and extreme climate and that makes its supply and operation costly for businesses and our people,” Polye said.“The projects will not only support the development of a safer national civil aviation network but would make road transport safer and accessible in the Highlands.”