**** International Wharf, Alotau, November 4th ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill flew out of Port Moresby today to visit the International wharf in Alotau, Milne bay province to welcome the arrival of the first international cruise ship P&O Pacific Dawn. In addition the Prime Minister addressed the crowd at the Kenu & Kundu Festival as well as taking in a tour of the P&O cruise ship, the Prime Minister also took the time to officiate the ribbon cutting of the Sanderson Bay Informal Sector Market.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill in Alotau. November 5th 2013 ****
Milne Bay’s potential as a tourism hotspot has once again been highlighted by the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
“Milne Bay Province has a lot of potential to become a tourist-driven province and I urge you to make use of this opportunity,” he said during the closing 2013 Kenu & Kundu Festival in Alotau Town on Monday. Mr O’Neill said with more arrivals of tourist vessels like the Pacific Dawn that sailed in this morning with over 2000 tourists, you have the opportunity to exhibit your culture, by selling your arts and crafts to them. He reiterated the O’Neill-Dion Government’s support for the exhibition of culture and tourism in Papua New Guinea, and plans to pump more funds into the Milne Bay Kenu & Kundu Festival in the years to come. The Prime Minister applauded the Milne Bay Provincial Government and its parliamentary leaders for their initiative to focus on tourism as a revenue earner.
After officiating at the closing of the 2013 Kenu & Kundu Festival, Mr O’Neill toured the jumbo tourist vessel – the Pacific Dawn, and officially opened the informal sector market, which was built to cater for street vendors.
“This will empower you to embark on small and medium enterprises to sustain yourselves,” Mr O’Neill told the vendors. After touring the Pacific Dawn, he officiated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where he officially opened the Informal Sector Market, which will cater for the Sanderson Bay area. The market will be run entirely by the women’s group, implementing the provincial government’s aim to fully empower women in the business sector.
Mr O’Neill said this was a great opportunity to enhance and empower the women of Milne Bay, who will gradually venture into small and medium enterprises. “This is a good time for us to venture into business opportunities, given the increase in number of tourists visiting our country every year. “We cannot sit around and let these opportunities go by without grabbing them. We must make use of them. “The Government will not give anyone money hand-outs to start your business. It will only provide the avenues like these markets,” Mr O’Neill said. He flew to the Trobriand Islands today to officially launch the Kiriwina-Goodenough Five Year Development Plan and to open a new jetty at the Kaibola Station.
**** ZURENUOC HAPPY WITH PROGRESS ON REMOVING IMPEDIMENTS TO DOING BUSINESS. November 5th 2013 ****
Encouraging more investment in Papua New Guinea is one of the O’Neill-Dion government’s key priority areas under the Alotau Accord. Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, who has been tasked to head the National Working Group (NWG) on Improving the Business and Investment Climate in PNG, said he was happy with the committee’s progress so far. After it was revamped in mid-2011, the NWG’s three main goals were to identify impediments to doing business in PNG, find solutions and recommend to the National Executive Council on how to remove these stumbling blocks.
Sir Manasupe said the committee has worked tirelessly to address some of these issues which include problems with acquiring land for business, unreliable power supply, export tax on agricultural commodities, high internet rates and housing, among others. “The government is committed to ensuring regular sessions of the National Working Group so that in partnership with the private sector, we can address constraints to doing business and investing in PNG. “We also aim to enlarge the dialogue to include competitiveness issues and to develop industry specific actions,” he said.
Sir Manasupe thanked the members of the committee who had consistently attended the monthly meetings, especially those from government who had, unlike the previous members showed a lot of commitment to work with the private sector.
**** PNGSDP SHOULD GET ITS PRIORITIES RIGHT. November 5th 2013 ****
On page 13 of The National newspaper today, Sir Mekere Morauta takes another paid advertisement to carry out his on-going criticism of the Prime Minister on the Ok Tedi issue. In this advertisement, Sir Mekere accuses the Prime Minister of double-talk, of saying one thing about the Daru Port, Purari Hydro and Cloudy Bay Timber projects at home, and saying another thing about these projects to an Australian audience. There are no doubts the potential benefits the Daru Port and Purari Hydro projects would bring for the people of Western province and PNG are huge but these should not be priority projects for PNG Sustainable Development Fund. These projects are for the National Government to carry out, to fund at the national level, supported by the National Budget.
PNGSDP funds spent on these projects would have been better utilised to deliver better health and TB facilities in Daru and along the Fly River communities, build more classrooms and teachers houses for schools in the province, build new roads to parts of the province that are still inaccessible, and fund small to medium business initiatives for the people there. Pouring millions of kina into feasibility studies for Purari Hydro and Daru port, for which Sir Mekere is now claiming intellectual property rights, are not the kind of projects the PNGSDP should be pursuing. That is what the Prime Minister meant when he said on October 21 that funding to these projects by PNGSDP should be discontinued. These projects should be pursued by the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) on behalf of the National Government.
**** Government aims to provide basic infrastructure throughout rural areas. November 6th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill flew into Kiriwina yesterday to officiate at the opening of a new cruise ship jetty in Kebola village. This coincided with the opening of a new jetty in Alotau the previous day. The Prime Minister arrived to a rousing welcome by the Tapioka Dancers who attracted thousands of curious tourists, who were already there, to leave what they were doing and rushed to the site to have a glimpse of the event. “Since this government took office, our aim is to provide basic infrastructure that will serve our rural communities throughout the country,” Mr O’Neill said.
He said similar projects would be expanded to all other districts throughout the country so that people can have access to better services. Mr O’Neill further said that through the coastal vessel program rollout by the Department of National Planning, a K1million will be provided to the Kiriwina- Goodenough electorate to fast track the building of other similar jetties to cater for cruise ships likely the Pacific Dawn that was berthing outside the island. “Tourism brings a lot of income for the country and we must have infrastructure available to meet this demand,” he said.
He said the government is putting a very determined effort in making sure funding is distributed fairly throughout all the districts in the country. Mr O’Neill also urged the people to work together with their leaders to ensure that such projects are carried out smoothly for the benefit of everyone.
He also announced the resealing of the Kiriwina-Goodenough roads and the airport runway.
**** PM O'Neill leaves for Guangzhou, China****
On Thursday 7th November the Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill will fly out to meet the leaders of the People’s Republic of China in Guangzhou. This is the 2nd China – Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum to be held. The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the People’s Republic of China Government will be hosting this event from the 7th to the 9th November.
This event provides the opportunity for Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill to meet and discuss new opportunities with one of the largest economies in the world. The Prime Ministers small delegation will in addition also have the opportunity to connect again with the leaders from Papua New Guineas close neighbors including Fiji. The Forum will focus on Trade and Investment, Environmental Protection, Agriculture Trade and Tourism.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill commented, “China is one of the largest global economies in the world and to have these forums with key Chinese Government Officials and Heads of State, allows initial discussions to take place that will greatly benefit the people of Papua New Guinea and the overall country itself. While our Government and departments are working hard, we need to build our export markets. China is currently the world’s second richest country and second largest importer. I believe in 2012 alone they imported over $1.5 trillion worth of imported products.”
The Prime Minister continued, “The areas of discussion are perfectly suited to out short term and mid term goals for the economy of Papua New Guinea. We need to be there to take part in the discussions, to develop the relationships, and ensure we have the platform moving forward for our export market to china in the years to come. China can also provide their knowledge, experience and support in areas that Papua New Guinea also needs urgently including health, education and security”
The Prime Ministers small delegation will include Hon. Charles Abel, MP – Minister for National Planning and Monitoring and Governor for National Capital District – Hon. Powes Parkop. The Forum is expected to draw over 500 key Officials, Government Ministers and Heads of State from around the world. In the coming weeks the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 will be held in Sri Lanka. These discussions will be held from the 15th to the 17th November in Colombo. This will be the first time in 40 years that Queen Elizabeth II will not be present at the CHOGM. Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, will be attending in the 87-year-old monarch's place, as she has curtailed her overseas visits due to age.
The purpose of CHOGM is to focus on a range of global issues, including international peace and security, democracy, climate change, multilateral trade issues, good governance, sustainable development, small states, debt management, education, environment, gender equality, health, human rights, information and communication technology, and youth affairs.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill will not be attending this event, however Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Leo Dion will take his place.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill will fly out to meet the leaders of the People’s Republic of China in Guangzhou. November 8th 2013 ****
This is the 2nd China – Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum to be held. The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the People’s Republic of China Government will be hosting this event from the 7th to the 9th November. This event provides the opportunity for Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill to meet and discuss new opportunities with one of the largest economies in the world. The Prime Ministers small delegation will in addition also have the opportunity to connect again with the leaders from Papua New Guineas close neighbors including Fiji. The Forum will focus on Trade and Investment, Environmental Protection, Agriculture Trade and Tourism.
HON. PETER O’NEILL, CMG, MP PRIME MINISTER, PAPUA NEW GUINEA ON THE OCCASION OF HIS ATTENDANCE AT THE 2ND CHINA – PACIFIC ISLANDS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND COOPERATION FORUM 7 – 8 NOVEMBER 2013, GUANGZHOU, GUANGDONG PROVINCE. November 8th 2013 *****
I wish to thank the Government and the People’s Republic of China for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival in this beautiful city, of Guangzhou. It is a pleasure to be able to participate with my colleagues for the Pacific Islands in this important dialogue with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. Papua New Guinea’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China dates back to our Independence in 1975. We established full diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China soon after Independence – and it has grown and diversified ever since. I know that has been the experience of other Pacific Island nations as well. We welcome China’s interest and involvement in our region, and we especially welcome it in Papua New Guinea. We appreciate the generous Grant-In- Aid we receive, and other nations receive, under the Economic Development Co-operation program with our region. This generous assistance supports the national development and community development agendas of our countries – and contributes to improving the living standards of our people. In the case of Papua New Guinea, our relationship with the People’s Republic of China is much wider than the grant-in-aid program, beneficial though it is. We are now receiving concessional loan funding for some of our major development projects, and the expansion of our major economic infrastructure, such as national highways and ports. This concessional funding means we are able to do even more in meeting the growing infrastructure demands of a growing population and a growing economy.The investment links between our countries have grown significantly in recent years. The best know is the Ramu Nickel Project, in which a major China corporation is the major shareholder and project manager. The People’s Republic of China is also a major and direct participant in our first gas to liquids project, which will begin exporting LNG in the next twelve to fifteen months. The People’s Republic of China will be an initial and significant foundation customer. We welcome that investment and participation as a customer.I know that a number of companies are currently looking at investing in our future oil and gas development, and our mining and other resource areas. We welcome that interest – and we will assist whenever possible in converting that interest to substantial investment. Our resource sector is absolutely critical to our economic security, and enhancing the living standards of our people. China has become a major partner in the development of our major resources – we look forward to it growing and diversifying. In turn, we hope we can diversify our exports to China. I believe we can be an active partner in meeting not just your energy needs, but you all important food needs in particular. It is an opportunity Papua New Guinea is keen to take up.I also want to thank the People’s Republic of China for the support it has always given to Papua New Guinea in regional and international forums. That has been genuinely given - and is genuinely appreciated by the people of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea has been chosen to host the 2018 APEC Leaders Forum. This is a great privilege – and it is one we will ensure delivers a Forum the APEC Leaders, including your President, will remember very fondly – indeed in the Pacific tradition. We will appreciate any support and assistance from the Government of the People’s Republic of China in hosting this APEC Leaders meeting in 2018. Indeed, we truly value the support China not only gives us, but also our Pacific Island neighbours. Our bilateral relationship is growing and taking on new dimensions. It is among our most important country to country and people to people relationships we have, and enjoy. This dialogue and the growing relationship the People’s Republic of China has with the Pacific Islands region, is wholly beneficial. Just as our bi-lateral relationship is.I am aware of the People’s Republic of China’s interest in becoming a permanent development Partner with the Pacific Island Forum, and PNG look forward to welcoming China into the Forum. We will work co-operatively to make the partnership as widely beneficial as possible.Thank you
**** Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang shakes hands with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill during their meeting at the second China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. November 8th 2013 ****
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill returned at 9pm tonight from the second China/Pacific Island countries economic development and cooperation forum. He was greeted by deputy Prime Minister Hon. Leo Dion and other senior delegates from the Government. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill commented briefly to say he was happy with the outcome of the quick trip to China and further discussions will continue to the benefit of Papua New Guinea. November 9th 2013****
**** Prime Minister O'Neill - Press Conference "No more lies". November 11th 2013****
Today at a Press Conference held by Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill. The focus was on his return from China, however he had additional agendas that he wanted to press home with the media. The Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill focused on the topics of the current Paraka Legal case, the National Budget, Media Ownership in PNG and the recent deportation of a PNGSDP employee.
The Prime Minister focused his initial attention onto the social media channels (facebook) and websites that have been publishing various stories surrounding the Paraka Lawyers case. “Let me be very clear, and let there be no misunderstandings, the Police and the Task force have interviewed all of the Prime Ministers Office Staff, the Departments Staff, the Finance Department Staff directly linked to any documents, any involvement with the creating or management to do with any part of this legal case. The investigation is continuing and no Government Official is standing in the way of this investigation. The Opposition Leader is being totally disrespectful to the Government agencies conducting these investigations and he needs stop the interference he is causing and allow these investigations to continue. The Opposition Leader needs to stop feeding the social media channels and allow these investigations to complete. There is absolutely no Government Official being protected, and we look forward to outcome of these investigations. There is no hidden agendas or motive by the Government, in fact I unstructured the Police and Task force to commence the investigations into this matter of legal fees. This matter has been in play for well over 13-14 years, it did only happen yesterday, so lets get the facts right, and not be peddling incorrect facts anymore.”
The Prime Minister further pushed the Opposition Leader to debate the Government on real issues and stop being the father of negativity of Papua New Guinea and to stop the fabrication of stories to suit his own agendas.
The Prime Minister then spoke about the upcoming National Budget. The Prime Minister reaffirmed that they have only been there 12 months in power and yet have achieved so much and delivered on all there policies as promised. He further executed his point by having all the major political party leaders standing by his side while he delivered his message on the National Budget “the Government is very stable, the Government is not lead by one dictator as the Opposition Leader would like the Country to believe, we are committed to PNG and we have very clear policies and agendas on the table. Those agenda are clear and include free education, improving the welfare of our teachers, improving the syllabus for education, we are rolling out many of the free medical services that we promised to PNG, we are building new hospitals, new airports, new roads, we are committed to our policies. We are addressing the Law and Order Issues that has plagued PNG for many years. We are staying focused and placing lots of resources including K1.5billion into these regional areas. I challenge the Opposition Leader to share his policies and to stop degrading the economic position of this country. This Government has built confidence with the international community. The Opposition Leader needs to look at what his policies are, and stop being a part time Opposition Leader, and stop creating misleading comments about the PNG economy. Either be a real Opposition Leader with real policies that benefit the country or stop wasting the Countries time. I ask everyone to talk sense, to talk policies and lets not waste our time on the negative and focus on the positive. Lets focus on new ideas for Health, Education and other areas that benefit all of PNG. The budget will not be blocked and we are acting as a united Government that is working together to provide the best outcomes for this country. Our Country will continue to grow at 6%, we are doing very well, and our economy is doing well.”
The Prime Minister was also quick to shut down once again lies and misleading articles on his potential recent arrest, “There is nothing more frustrating for me than having to answer these nonsense stories. These are more claims that have been developed by the Opposition Leader. There is no crime, there is no arrest to take place. The investigations are taking place with regard to the letter from my office. The people that have forged this letter will be found, they will be prosecuted and they will be charged. Let the Police do their job and these people will be found very shortly. I can assure these people will be arrested and you can take my word for it.”
The Prime Minister then spoke about the recent deportation of the PNGSDP, Communication Manager Mark Davis, “Mark was deported due to violating this visa conditions. His visa conditions were very clear and specific, he broke these conditions. His role with the PNGSDP was as their communications manager. We have evidence from Work Permit Department and the Immigration department had received complaints, they investigated and he was found to be interfering in political matters that were clearly outside his visa conditions. These departments acted on these complaints and issues with regard to Mark. I do not interfere or have control over these departments and they have acted as per the guidelines of the Government and their respective departments. Mark can reapply for his Visa again, however he will need to go through the process as everyone else does. Most importantly we support our departments and there decisions in this matter. He broke the conditions of his Visa and this is the outcome of that.”
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill's press conference on return from China. November 11th 2013****
In Port Moresby, 11th November, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill held a press conference on the return of his trip from the 2nd China – Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation.
The press conference lead by Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill had numerous topics to cover and it was clear he had a strong agenda. The Prime Minister was ready to stress key points and drive home the facts that were being misrepresented across PNG by individuals including Opposition Leader Belden Namah.
The Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill started by saying “the trip to China was for one day, where discussions where for the continued Development cooperation between China and the South Pacific countries. The Peoples Republic of China have agreed to setup concessional loan facilities for all of the South Pacific Countries to the value of USD$1 Billion.” The Prime Minister continued to say that he thanked China for there continued support and initiative for showing there ongoing commitment to the region. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill while in China meet with Vice Premier and Commerce Minister for the Peoples Republic of China.
While the Prime Minister was very pleased with the discussions in China and the ongoing relationship, he soon turned his attention to clear set the record straight with regard to the relationship and the funding that China is providing. “The media have been reporting for some time that the Government of PNG has a $6billion loan facility with the Exim bank. This is not the case, and not true, and has never been announced by Government. Our arrangement with the Exim bank is very clear, the PNG Government seeks concessional funding for specific projects and applies for funds under very strict guidelines. There are a few projects already underway and using these facilities including the IGIS (Internal Government Information System), The University of Goroka, Port Moresby South Pacific Industrial Marine Park and the numerous community programs.” commented the Prime Minister.
On the back of these loans from the Exim Bank, the Government of PNG have added additional guidelines to ensure there are more jobs for all Papua New Guineians and the people of PNG benefit from these loans for all projects.
The Prime Minister continued “ the PNG Cabinet has taken the decision that all projects up to the value of $50million will be exclusively for Papua New Guinea based companies, while projects $51 to $100million projects will be reserved for join projects with Papua New Guinea companies. Allowing for PNG companies to grow around these projects and employ local people for these projects.”
The Prime Minister focus was clearly on getting his message across that the Government is working hard and that all of his departments are working for the people of PNG.
The Prime Minister spoke about the need and requirement for some International travel and covered this by saying, “When I travel, it is not for a holiday, its work. I travelled to China this week, I flew a total of 18 hours, worked for 20hours, and this all fitted into a total of 3 days. These trips are necessary to build Papua New Guinea and create new opportunities for the country. We are however, stopping large delegations from travelling, we are stopping all the first class trips. Unless it is required, and required for a very good reason, then our Government Officials will not be travelling.”
The Prime Minster, finished the press conference on a positive note, “Our PNG Kumul’s did not win the games we had hoped, but they are our National Team. They are young, and they were up against the worlds best. Also don’t forget, they are not professional players like the other countries from around the World. They are part time. So get out there and support the team. The boys did there best and they will improve. “
**** Push for greater stake in industry. November 13th 2013 ****
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says he does not want to control the media as speculated but wants to see Papua New Guinea have greater shares in this industry. “We are following the same legislation as that in Australia and the United States,” he told reporters yesterday.
“Are the media freedoms being affected by this legislation?
“I don’t think so. This is about ownership, national interest, security of what you write and what you say.
“We are consulting the stakeholders, including the media owners. “We’ll be happy to discuss any suggestions that they have.” O’Neill said: “Some of these media organisations are beyond the reach of many Papua New Guinea citizens.
“We have to be realistic. “We say this very clearly: We are not trying to control. “I’m sure all of you know Rupert Murdoch has had to change his citizenship to qualify for some of the regulations in the US. “It’s not something that’s out of the blue and unexpected. “I think people need to realise that these are the sort of things countries are doing all over the world. “Only in Papua New Guinea we allow everybody else to own everything but Papua New Guineans own nothing.
**** Government remains intact and focused on delivering services. November 13th 2013 ****
“The Government remains intact and focused on delivering its key priorities in education, health, infrastructure development, law and order, fighting corruption, and growing small businesses,” O’Neill said. “The 2014 Budget will reflect that. We will not be deterred by rumors and speculation being deliberately spread to create instability and uncertainty. Our policies lay real foundation for change that this country deserves. And we intend to ensure they are fully implemented during the term of this government and life of this Parliament.”
Parliament is expected to pass several bills during the session which started yesterday. Leader of government business and Finance and Education Minister James Marape said the Government was confident of passing the bills. It includes a bill on the Sovereign Wealth Fund to control the cash flow expected from the PNG LNG project. Marape said the Government was going to table and pass the Independent Commission Against Corruption Bill, to address corruption in PNG. It includes the Public Service Amendment Bill aimed to ensure public servants perform their duties.The bill will empower district administrators to hire and fire public servants. Governors can appoint the provincial administrator as per the Alotau accord.
**** PAPUA NEW GUINEA AND THE COMMONWEALTH LINK STRONGER THAN BEFORE: PATO. November 13th 2013 ****
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato says Papua New Guinea has developed a stronger link with the Commonwealth now more than ever before. Mr Pato said PNG has shown time and again to the world that the Commonwealth’s core values and principles of parliamentary democracy is alive and have stood well in PNG over the years. “The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, which groups together developed and developing countries with historical links to the realm. It is the shared core values and principles of parliamentary democracy that have held the Commonwealth together. “While these democratic principles have been the binding factor, over time these have widened to include social and developmental issues affecting the global community,” Mr Pato said. He said PNG is a small nation with huge development challenges. PNG cannot make a difference alone; however, together with members of the Commonwealth, it can contribute by building strategic alliances to draw global support in areas of mutual interests.
“So our association with the Commonwealth serves this purpose in addition to the historical reasons that bind us.
“In the current globalized world where PNG needs to connect with the international community as we seek to advance our national interest and define our place in the international community, our relationship and membership of the Commonwealth remains significant now more than ever before,” he said. Mr Pato said the Commonwealth has strategic links to two of the most powerful groups of super powers and emerging powers in the G8 and G20 respectively. “So this provides an excellent opportunity for PNG and other developing countries to network and build strategic alliances,” Mr Pato said.
He said the meeting will address a range of issues which are important and relevant but focus for PNG will be on women & gender, youth, climate change and international trade, especially financing as a vehicle for development. “The Commonwealth however, still faces challenges in delivering commitments by the leaders. So PNG expects the leaders’ communiqué to be firmly worded and binding to take the group forward. “In the context of the ongoing climate change negotiations, PNG expects a strong support from the leaders for a legally binding mechanism to succeed the Kyoto Protocol,” he said.
Mr Pato said PNG will also be seeking strong support from the Commonwealth leaders for the Majuro Declaration on climate change. The PNG delegation is led by the Deputy Prime Minister, Leo Dion and comprises of technical officials from the Departments of Prime Minister & NEC and Foreign Affairs, and staff of the Deputy Prime Minister’s office. Mr. Tarcisius Eri, PNG High Commissioner to India, who is concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka, and PNG High Commissioner to Great Britain, with concurrent accreditation to the Commonwealth, Ms Winnie Kiap are also attending the meeting.
**** PNG Government gives $1 Million USD in aid relief to Philippines. November 13th 2013 ****
Recently in the Philippines, TYPHOON HAIYAN, a Category 5 storm and one of the largest ever to have made landfall around the globe struck the Philippines. It devastated the Philippines, a nation of more than 7,000 islands. The Typhoon started on Friday, November 8, with wind gusts of up to 370km/hResponding to the disaster, President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national emergency and mobilized the army to bring relief to storm survivors and organize rescue efforts.Today Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill and the Government announced that they would support the Philippines with $1million USD aid funding.The Prime Minister commented, "The Philippines have always been good friends of Papua New Guinea and with over 10,000 filipino's living here in PNG currently it is our duty to help this country in its hour of need. With more than 10,000 people suspected of being dead, millions left homeless and the overall devastation caused by this super Typhoon leaving a repair bill into the billions, I know this money will go a long way help to enable people to begin to get there lives back. I know the damage caused by this typhoon and lives lost cannot be fixed by money, but it can help rebuild the important infrastructure and provide much needed medical supplies. By Sunday morning, 10th November, it is my understanding that the reports of the devastation from this storm was like nothing ever seen before in any place around the world. My support and the support of the PNG Government goes out to the people of the Philippines, especially in the city of Tacloban, the capital of the Leyte province. I believe this area was hit hard and the devastation extreme. This is a lot of money for PNG to commit, however, if we ever require the same support in a crisis such as this, I know the Philippines would even offer greater support to our country. I will personally contact His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines, and discuss how we can best support the Philippines over and above our aid funding of $1million USD."
*** Tree planting Ceremony in Sri Lanka. November 15th 2013 ****
Yesterday the Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato,representing the Deputy PM Leo Dion, who is yet to arrivefrom Singapore tonight, planted a tree at the BotanicalGarden, Mijjawila in the Hambantota District of SouthernProvince.The tree is known as Cassia Fistula, a native tree to SriLanka, India, Thailand, Pakistan and Myanmar. This tree alsoknown as Lantern tree has yellow flowers. This tree planting ceremony symbolizes peace and unity in Sri Lanka and also throughout the world. It is significant because when the tree grows it will indicate the growing relationship and friendship of those countries and Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth.
**** Prime Minister O'Neill - "Sam Basil Get your facts right" November 15th 2013****
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill yesterday (14/11/13) told the Deputy Opposition Leader, Sam Basil, to get his facts right before going to the media and social media to give misleading information. This was after the ongoing allegations made by Basil that the Government had allocated K800m for the Lae-Nadzab four-lane road construction, over K72m for the Refurbishment of the Marea Haus (Pineapple Building) and the misappropriation of K31.5m on a failed Housing Scheme in Port Moresby.
"Firstly, I would like to urge the Deputy Opposition Leader, to get his facts and figures correct before disseminating any information to the public via the mainstream and social media. "For the Lae-Nadzab road construction, the Government has allocated no more than K500m and not K800m as purported by Mr Basil. "You should be grateful and refrain from criticising this Government as the new road will be of much benefit to you, enabling you to do business more easily in your province," Mr O'Neill told Basil. He then said for the Pineapple Building the refurbishment would cost no more than K50m and not K72m.
"This is to save the K200m, which governments for many years have spent to rent office buildings to house government departments and agencies,"Mr O'Neill said. He said the Government aimed to save taxpayers' money to refurbish and utilise the abandoned buildings like the Marea Haus, which has been vacant for over 17 years.
Mr O'Neill also told the House, this project was independently supervised by the Oil Search Ltd, under the tax credit scheme. He also confirmed that the Pineapple Building contractor - L&A, was awarded this contract through the usual process of bidding through the Central Supply and Tenders Board.
For the Housing Scheme in Port Moresby that was claimed to have failed and K31.5m been misappropriated by various MPs, Mr O'Neill reaffirmed the House saying all the funds have already been reimbursed by the contractor (named), and has now been diverted to building 150 new houses at Bomana, Port Moresby, to accommodate this increasing number of police men and women. "This ongoing behaviour of misleading the public with factually incorrect information by the Opposition is only causing harm to the nation and its economy," Mr O'Neill said
** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill supports PNC candidate and delivers an Ambulance. November 16th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill today left Port Moresby to fly directly to Wewak to present an ambulance to Samaritan Aviation. Samaritan Aviation which operates the only float plane through Papua New Guinea which currently serves East Sepik Provence with an estimated population of 500,000. They provide emergency evacuation flights and medicine delivery, disaster relief and community health programs. It is a non profit organisation funded through non profit donations.
The Prime Minister left these celebrations on delivering the ambulance to fly directly to Ambunti and then onto Drekikir to support the Peoples National Congress Candidate Ezikiel Anisi for the Ambunti-Drekikir open seat bi-election. There was about 2,000 people in each location to greet the Prime Minister.
During his visits and speaks the Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill announced that by 2015 the government will introduce the Pension Services program, to enable our elderly and disabled people to sustain themselves financially. This Pension Services Program would commence in 2015 for the elderly men and women, who have reached retirement age and for all those living with Disabilities in PNG.
The Prime Minister arrived in East Sepik Province to support his PNC Party Candidate, Ezikiel Anisi, who is re-running for the Ambunti-Drekikir Open Seat in the bi-election Saturday. Mr Anisi was declared as the Ambunti-Drekikir MP in the 2012 General Elections but was sidelined due to allegations of being underage to take up office.
During his speech to address the rally of more than 2,000 people, the Prime Minister announced that the government would soon implement the Compulsory National Youth Services for the young school-leavers to receive military training. “This is specifically to help them maintain discipline, improve education, create a career path and avoid getting involved in illegal activities" commented the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister further announced the government’s plan to empower and motivate public servants by building more staff houses in order for them to live, have housing for there families and allowing them to complete there jobs. The Prime Minister said, “It is unfair and sad to see public servants living in squatter settlements and on the streets, struggling to perform their work duties while they are being neglected by the government,”
The Prime Minister went on the front foot to explain why the Government Housing is in such a poor state,
“Because most of these houses and buildings, not only in Ambunti-Drekikir but throughout the country, were built in the 1970s and none of the past governments have tried to maintain or rebuild them, it is simple neglect by the past Government for to many years with regard to these assets and the wellbeing of our public servants.” Mr O’Neill said.
He assured the Ambunti-Drekikir people that the government would do its best to serve the over seven million people of PNG, and be fully judged come the 2017 national elections. The Prime Minister commented "as the leadership team and the first Government to deliver on its promises to the nation of PNG. The people will judge our performance and results, and I am sure we will be returned to Government during these next elections"
** Prime Minister Hon Peter O'Neill Commissions Quarry in Munihu District, Upper Mendi. November 16th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill flew today to Munihu District in Upper Mendi, Southern Highlands Provence. The Prime Minister was there to officiate the commisioning of the new quarry dubbed as the "pot of gold" of upper Mendi. People of the Munihu were excited to have the Prime Minister visit there district for the first time. This was actually the first time any Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea visited this part of the Southern Highlands. People came far and wide to see the Prime Minister and to listen to him address the crowd of at least 2,000-3,000 people.
The Chiefs within the Munihu area were so pleased to receive the Prime Minister that they offered him as gifts 4, very large pigs.
The Prime Minister said "I appreciate the very kind gifts and for the warm welcome that you have provided me today. In return to the people of the Munihu district, I return these pigs to the people and Ministers that have accompanied me here today, so they can be shared by everyone"
**** MINISTER HON. RIMBINK PATO - PNG/AUSTRALIA BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP ON TRACK. November 17th 2013 ****
Foreign Affairs & Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato says Papua New Guinea and Australia’s bilateral relationship is on track. Minister Pato said Australia’s "relationship with PNG is very important and that all issues concerning both countries are on track with new grounds being broken".
The Minister made this statement on Friday (15/11/13) following a bilateral meeting with the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“I also had the opportunity to meet and speak briefly with the Australia Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and it is very clear that in terms of the way forward, PNG’s relationship with Australia is absolutely on track. “I can see that there are greater and better things that we will do in our bilateral relationship to re-enforce the long standing bond between our two countries and our people. I can say the same for New Zealand,” Minister Pato said.
He also met with New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully and spoke briefly to New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key. “The New Zealand Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister are very excited about the level of renewed cooperation and the re-enforcement of business that is now occurring between our two countries,” he said.
Minister Pato also met with the Foreign Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia and the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
“The Commonwealth is a forum or an opportunity to meet and connect and leverage ourselves in terms of what PNG can gain. “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to re-engage, re-enforce and promote those issues of concern for our country from which we can gain and also from which our friends and partners can benefit,” he said.
Minister Pato said CHOGM was very constructive and productive as PNG accomplished its mission by expressing its position on matters affecting youths, climate change, and connecting with other countries. “It demonstrates that PNG is part of an important organisation, which is the Commonwealth,” he said.
***** NAMAH BEHIND SALE OF LAND. November 18th 2013 *****
A Ministerial directive is sued in January 2012 by then acting Prime Minister for Public Enterprises Belden Namah paved the way for an eventual sale of piece of land owned by Telikom PNG Ltd at 5 Mile, Port Moresby.
Documents obtained by the national reveal that Gabaka and previously called OTC grounds, was sold for K4.3 million to PNG land Ltd, a Port Moresby based company whose five shareholders, including Managing Director Henry Tse. are naturalised citizens of Chinese origin.
Investment Promotions Authority (IPA) records show that the company was incorporated on November 8th, 1990, and its registered office is located in Deloitte tower in Downtown Port Moresby. The sale came under Parliament scrutiny last tuesday with Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill instructing the National Capital District physical planning board to halt any development until allegations surrounding the transaction were fully investigated.
Namah pictured, now opposition leader was not present in the chamber when East Sepik Governor Sir Michael Somare and Kerowagi MP Camiliius Dangma queried Lands Minister Benny Allan and O'Neill in the sale.
Sir Michael, who was the Prime Minister at the time of the initial sale agreement had asked Allen to reveal the name of the person who allowed the sale of the land but Allen said he was not aware and would investigate his departments involvement.
O'Neill has since written to task force sweep chairman Sam Koim to investigate the matter. " Without pre-empting your investigation, I'm very concerned with the manner in which this prime land was sold and therefor warrant your immediate investigation" O'Neill said in his letter to Koim dated November 12.
Two valuations of Gabaka Land were sought by the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) in early 2012. LJ Hooker valued the land at K32 Million and Rubeem Valuation assessed it at K75.6 million.
In his letter to O'Neill on Oct 22, IPBC managing director Wasantha Kumarasiri said that Gabaka land which consisted of 101 subdivided portions was sold for K4.3 Million in June 2012. He confirmed the sale was completed in line with the Ministerial directive from Namah, who was the deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for forests and climate change. " It is noted that section 46 approval requirements under the IPBC Act appear to have been overlooked during the sale". Kumarasiri said in his letter to O'Neill. He may have reffered to the section 46 clause which states that a state owned enterprise must not sell of lease any land must not sell any lease or plant under a contract for consideration exceeding K1 Million without IPBC approval.
Namah had assumed the acting role in the absence of then Public Enterprises Minister Sir Mekere Morauta. His ministerial directive dated Jan 23, was addressed to then IPBC managing director Thomas Abe and his telikom counterpart Peter Loko. The national understands that Loko's refusal to adhere to Namah's directive resulted in his removal as managing director.
IPBC chief legal officer Erastus Kamburi confirmed in a brief to Kumarasiri on October 19th that Telikom PNG Ltd and PNG lands Ltd completed final settlement of the sale transaction on June 1, 2012. Kamburi said a cheque of K4,341,153.20 was subsequently paid to IPBC to hold in trust pending determination on the apportionment of the funds between Telikom PNG Ltd, Post PNG Ltd and National Information and communications Technology Authority (NICTA), which all had an historical interest in the land as they were part of the former Post and Telecommunications Corporation.
The Gabaka land was previously developed under a special purposes lease and was used by the then Overseas Telecommunications Corporation, hence it was called OTC grounds.
Following the departure of OTC, ownership of the land was transferred to the Department of Post and Telegraphs and later of the Department of Public Utilities, which was subsequently and named Post Telecommunications Corporation. PTC was the owner of the land until its corporatization in 1996.
Telikom PNG assumed full ownership of the land in 1998 and proceeded with subdividing it in 101 allotments.
It was granted individual title deeds to the allotments by the registrar of titles in August 2003. Earlier on June 13 2003, Telikom advertised the land by public tender and on September 17 2003 excepted and offer by PNG Land Ltd to Purchase the entire 101 allotments for K4.3 Million. The contract of sale was signed on November 3 2003.
" It is alleged that this was at a significant discount to the then market value", Kamburi said in his brief.
" It is alleged that PNG Land Ltd was not the highest tender in the tender process contacted by Telikom PNG, and that the tender process may have been flawed. It is further alleged that the current value of the land could be in excess of K80 Million."
The national understands the initial contract of sale was signed by then Telikom acting Managing Director Martin Veisame, who later left the organisation to pursue private business interests. Veisame returned to Telikom recently again as acting Managing Director to replace Charles Litau, who had assumed the role after Peter Loko's removal.
Telikom's ownership of Gabaka land became a contentious issue with Post PNG, which claimed it had an "equitable interest" in the land.
The IPBC brief said Telikom continued ignorance of Post PNG's request led to lodging of a caveat and commencement of legal proceedings against the telecommunications provider on Nov 14, 2003.
PNG land Ltd instituted legal proceedings against Telikom in 2004 and obtained orders from the National Court compelling Telikom to settle the sale. However the court order could not be effected as long as the caveat lodged by Post PNG remained in place.
The IPBC directed Post PNG not to withdraw the caveat while it attempted to facilitate a resolution of the dispute.
The Post PNG caveat on the property expired on March 28, 2012, was cancelled by the registrar of titles.
NICTA then lodged its own caveat, on the instructions of IPBC, to stop the sale proceeding.
But the Deputy Registrar of titles refused to register it, stating that NICTA held only beneficial interest in relation to the proceeds of the sale and did not have equitable interest that could be protected by the caveat.
Namah said in the Ministerial directive that the had come to the conclusion, after considering the position of all parties, that Telikom must complete the settlement immediately.
He said IPBC was unlikely to succeed in any new negotiations with PNG Land Ltd to rescind the sale and resell the land for K80 Million or any other increased price.
"This is a commercially unrealistic proposition," he said.
The acting Minister then issued the following directions:
- Telikom PNG to complete the sale within 14 days
- IPBC and Post PNG to remove the caveats over the land
- Sales proceeds to be paid and dealt with as ordered by the national court decision of 2003
- A full report, including details of settlement, must be made to him within 7 days after the settlement.
" Failure to implement the above directions will result in the referral of this matter to the National Executive Council to consider an inquiry and sanctions," Namah said.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill - "GOVERNMENT IS DOING WELL" November 18th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill says "Papua New Guinea has seen more development in the past twelve months compared to the past decade". Unlike any other Prime Minister from the previous governments, he has actually visited districts throughout the country on an almost a weekly basis to inspect the projects that the Government has approved for the regional areas. Many of these new services and infrastructure have been needed in these regional areas for over 10 years.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill commented “It’s an honour to individually travel to the remote parts of PNG to deliver funding for services and see the kind of hardship our people have to face every day due to mismanagement by our previous governments and failure to deliver basic services”. It is evident that no Prime Minister in the past has travelled to as many districts in their term as Prime Minister.
“We have done more in just twelve months than the previous Governments have done in the past ten years,” Prime Minister O'Neill said. The Prime Minister will continue to support his ministers and other MPs to promote effective service delivery to the people of Papua New Guinea and further ensured the people that their DSIP funds will be delivered to them on time so they get their much needed services completed immediately. “I feel it is my duty as Prime Minister to go down to the district and local level governments and deliver such services so that other MPs can follow suit.
"Actions speak louder than words, and my Ministers and Government are working hard on delivering this attitude". This will provide the utmost assurance to the people of PNG that their requests on Government have not been given in vain,” Prime Minister O’Neill said. "Despite challenges been faced by this government, we will continue to serve the people of Papua New Guinea by delivering basic services to the all of Papua New Guinea".
“Let this government do our job in delivering services to the people. If we have not delivered on our promises, policies and agenda's by the end of our term, I am sure we will be judged come the 2017 general elections”. He said "we cannot make miracles happen overnight, nonetheless this government requests that you let us do our part for the next four years, slowly but surely this government will meet the countries needs”.
**** “ICT CAN HELP ACHIEVE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS,” SAYS MINISTER MICAH. November 19th 2013 ****
Minister for State Enterprises, Hon. Ben Micah today again highlighted the value and use of information and communication technology (ICT) in helping Papua New Guinea achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “ICT is widely recognised as the enabler for future economic prosperity and green sustainable development. “ICT will in return, contribute to achieving the MDGs as championed by the United Nations,” Mr Micah told a ministerial roundtable at the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit yesterday (18/11/13) in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Minister said PNG “has particular challenges” in meeting the MDGs, let alone broadband infrastructure and services goals. He said by bringing together key regional and international ICT sector players, the Summit provided a ready-made and ideal platform for PNG to mobilise human, financial and technical resources needed to support sustainable and inclusive ICT growth. “Growth in teledensity and broadband is constrained by several factors including high costs, a dualistic economy (natural resources versus subsistence living), highly dispersed population (85 per cent still live in rural areas), and challenging topography/physical environment. “PNG supports view of the Connect Asia Pacific Summit that making available high quality, affordable broadband services is essential to facilitate innovation, economic growth and development, and reinforce social inclusion and cultural norms. “It is clear that those not able to cope with these developments will continue to lag behind in development,” Mr Micah said. The Minister will leave Bangkok tonight.
**** MINISTER MICAH EXPRESSES SORROW TO THE PHILIPPINES GOVERNMENT ON TYPHOON DISASTER. November 19th 2013 ****
Minister for State Enterprises & State Investments, Hon. Ben Micah has joined other world leaders in conveying “heartfelt condolences and sorrow” to the Philippines government and people for the loss of lives and devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. “I take this opportunity to join other delegations in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the government and people of the Philippines for the loss of many lives and property from the aftermath of typhoon that recently struck the Island country. “Our prayers are with you at this difficult time and wish you speedy recovery, rehabilitation and recovery,” Mr Micah said at the opening of his statement to the Ministerial Roundtable discussions of the Connect Asia-Pacific Leaders’ Summit here in Bangkok.
Mr Micah said PNG is also prone to many natural disasters and he appreciates the suffering and loss presently being experienced by the people, mostly those from the Tacloban area.
“The television and Internet images are very sad and quite devastating. “Being from the same Asia-Pacific region makes it even harder for all of us to accept the enormity of the disaster and the high number of fatalities,” he said.
**** MINISTER MICAH ATTENDS ICT LEADERS’ SUMMIT IN BANGKOK ON BEHALF OF PRIME MINISTER O’NEILL. November 19th 2013 ****
Minister for State Enterprises, Hon. Ben Micah was in Bangkok yesterday (Monday 18/11/13) to attend the Connect Asia-Pacific Leaders’ Summit on behalf of Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill and the Government of PNG.
Mr Micah said the one-day Summit has brought Prime Ministers, Presidents and Ministers of the Asia-Pacific region together with key global and regional players in the ICT sector. “The Summit has provided an ideal platform for mobilising human, financial and technical resources needed to support the growth of ICT, which is widely recognised as the key engine or enabler for future economic prosperity, as well as inclusive and sustainable national development,” Mr Micah said. He said the theme of the Summit was ‘Asia-Pacific: Smartly DIGITAL (Digital Inclusive Green Innovative Transformative Affordable Living)” and was the fifth in a series of regional Summits that have been co-organised with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Previous Summits were held for Africa (2007), the CIS (2009), the Arabs (2012), and the Americas (2012).The Minister said he was particularly encouraged by the Summit’s emphasis on the utilisation of broadband to realise national and regional developmental agenda. “I share the view of this Summit that making available high quality, affordable broadband services is essential to facilitate innovation, economic growth and development, and reinforce social inclusion and cultural norms. “It is clear that those not able to cope with these developments will continue to lag behind in their national developmental goals,” Mr Micah said. The keynote address at the opening of the Summit this morning was made by the Prime Minister of Thailand, Ms Yingluck Shinawatra, after a welcome address by the Secretary-General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun Toure and a vide message from the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon.
This was followed by statements from the President of FSM, Mr Emanuel Mori, the President of Nauru, Mr Baron Waqa, and Prime Ministers John Key (New Zealand), Mr Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan), Lord Tu’ivakano (Tonga) and Mr Moana Kalosi (Vanuatu). The leaders then broke into the High-Level Panel Discussion on ‘Envisioning Asia-Pacific: 2020’ and the ‘Multi-Stakeholder Meeting and Partnership Announcements. Minister Micah is expected to make an intervention on behalf of PNG at the Ministerial Roundtable later this afternoon. At the conclusion of the Summit, the leaders will issue a Leaders’ Vision Statement and a Communiqué.
The Minister has been accompanied to Bangkok by PNG High Commissioner to Malaysia, H.E. Veali Vagi and Chief Executive Officer of NICTA, Mr Charles Punaha. He will depart Bangkok tomorrow afternoon and will arrive back in Port Moresby on Thursday morning, in time for the current Budget session of Parliament.
**** IFC THANKS GOVERNMENT. November 19th 2013 ****
The International Finance Corporation has expressed gratitude to the Government of Papua New Guinea for its ongoing support to its activities in PNG. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill today (19/11/13) met with the IFC Resident Representative Carolyn Blacklock, who thanked him for his government’s support.
“IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and has invested over US$235.4 million in PNG to various private sector organizations to support private sector growth, help end extreme poverty worldwide by 2030 and promote shared prosperity across the globe,” Mr O’Neill said. He said one of IFC’s first investments was PNG Microfinance Ltd (PML) when in 2006, IFC made an equity investment of US$1 million, (17% shareholding) and a senior loan of US$2 million with a tenor of up to five years.
“However, despite the ongoing support from PNGSDP, PML has continued struggling to return profits on its operations and this has now become a concern,” Mr O’Neill announced. For that reason, in the interest of PML shareholders and clients, Mrs Blacklock expressed IFC’s intention to divest from PML and discussed the situation with me.
“She assured me that IFC remains committed to the development aspirations of PNG through investment in the private sector aligned to the government’s objectives,” Mr O’Neill said.
**** Dion satisfied with outcome of the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). November 19th 2013 ****
Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion is satisfied with the outcome of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He said the theme of the 23rd (CHOGM) - Growth with Equity: "Inclusive Development" - was relevant given the diversity of the membership of the Commonwealth with varying and wide disparity in their social, economic and political structures. "All member states are still confronted with challenges of achieving growth that is both equitable but inclusive so that all communities benefit and nobody is left behind" he said. Deputy PM therefor, commended the Government of Sri Lanka for the theme because it is extremely relevant to the development challenges faced by the global community. "The leaders also adopted the Magampura Declaration of Commitment to Young People recognising the important role they play in our communities but also the challenges that confronts our young generation. They are the future leaders and we have a duty to assist in their development".
The Magampura Declaration amongst others reaffirms the importance of job creation and youth enterprise for inclusive economic growth, which is vital to national prosperity and social cohesion. The leaders further reaffirmed their commitment to the Commonwealth Youth Program (CYP) as a longstanding and unique instrament for promoting youth empowerment and development in the Commonwealth. " In relations to the issue of Women and Girls, the leaders agreed to continue addressing the issue of early forced marriages giving due considerations the domestic legislations of member countries and relevant international law".
Our climate change, the leaders called for legally binding arrangement the outcome for the current climate change negotiations that are taking place to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change is of the utmost National importance for PNG and will be driven forward at the national and international levels. "Climate change poses existential threats to the future survival and security of not only PNG but many small states of the Pacific as well as in other regions of the world".
In terms of the Millennium Development Goals, the leaders reaffirmed that the post 2015 development agenda should re-enforce the international communities commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development, he said. "They have also endorsed the intergovernmental process to be launched at the beginning of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly to agree on a Global Development Framework beyond 2015" he said.
On trade and investment, the heads of Government adopted the Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment, which amongst others reaffirms leaders commitment to a rules-based transparent free and fair multilateral trading system that enhances trade liberalisation while taking account of the special requirement of small and vulnerable economies and the least developed counties. The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to the core values of the Commonwealth enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter of December 2012.
"The People of the Commonwealth through the charter emphasised the importance of democracy, human rights, international peace and security, tolerance, respect and understanding as well as freedom of expression amongst others".
Deputy Prime Minister Dion extended his appreciation and gratitude for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended by the Government and people of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
**** K3m for typhoon victims. November 20th 2013 ****
THE Government has allocated K3 million to help in relief efforts in typhoon-devastated Philippines.
Finance Minister James Marape made the pledge to Philippine Ambassador Bienvenido Tejano during a fundraising concert hosted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the Sir John Guise Stadium last Saturday.
Marape is a member of the Footprints Gospel Group, whichwas one of the groups that presented beautiful gospel music. More than K50,000 was collected during the concert.
Donations were received from ANZ Bank, National Development Bank, Funeral Home, employees of Hideaway Hotel, employees of Seeto Kui PNG Ltd, Integrated Development Services Ltd and China Investments PNG Ltd.
Filipino Association of Papua New Guinea President Roel Sta Cruz said other business houses and individuals had promised to help. “All the proceeds will be given to the Philippine Red Cross to help our people,” Cruz said.
“A total of K3,131,000 in commitments and payments have been raised so far,” Cruz said.
**** 2014 Budget Passed. November 20th 2013 ****
The Education sector received the largest portion in the 2014 National Budget Passed yesterday. The sector received 1.5 billion kina, an increase of 158.7 Million Kina. This includes 358.3 Million Kina from donor grants and loans. The sector includes the delivery of primary, secondary and tertiary education through the department of education, the office of higher education and the national universities.
Meantime, the health sector has been allocated over
1.3 Billion Kina. This is 372 million Kina higher than in 2013.
The biggest investment in the health sector for 2014 is the hospital infrastructure redevelopment package valued at
276 Million Kina. The budget was announced in the state function room. The lock up comprised of the media, donor organisations, government and non-governmental organizations.
**** Public servants get wage increase. November 20th 2013 ****
Public servants throughout the country can expect an increase in wages in 2014. Treasurer Don Poyle, while presenting a K15 billion budget yesterday, said the Government recognised the work carried out by public servants so it welcomed the concept of pay increase. "In respect to public servant wages, the budget makes allowances for anticipated new awards which are expected to commence in 2014," Mr Poyle said. The first of such wage increases for next year was announced last month which was for a 10 percent increase in teachers salaries and allowances.
**** K20 Million for arts. November 20th 2013 ****
The Government will provide K227 Million to the social sector next year. The most significant programme under the sector in the 2014 budget is the K20 million provided to support the operation of the Melanesian Arts Festival which will showcase the pacific culture across PNG. The Community development department will be provided K128.1 Million for next year, including K25.8 Million for programmes targeting gender equality. The national museum and Art Gallery will be provided K35 Million of which K26 Million will be to develop a conference facility in Port Moresby, Under the international conference centre project.
The 2014 Budget continues support for the church state partnership program providing K19.4 Million. Supporting Church delivered programs has proven to be efficiant and cost effective use of Government funding for improving delivery of basic health and welfare services in many locations.
**** NO NEW TAXES. November 20th 2013 ****
The Government has not imposed any new taxes but had increased funding to the Internal Revenue Commission and Customs to raise an additional K750million in 2014. Treasury Minister Don Poyle, when handing the budget yesterday, said the tax revenue was estimated at K9.7 billion in 2014, and increase of K1.1 billion or 13 per cent from the 2013 revised estimate. He said this increased tax revenue was a significant achievement by the O'Neill -Dion Government as it was built on economic growth and improved tax compliance by revenue agencies. "I have the pleasure to announce that this budget contains no new taxes"
**** 2013 Pacific Games Investment. November 20th 2013 ****
A total of K315,800,000 will be invested in the 2015 Pacific Games. Treasurer Don Poyle announced this when presenting the 2013 Supplementary Budget in addition to the 2014 national Budget handed down in Parliament yesterday. "The 2013 Supplementary Budget contains a number of saving measures realised from project underspends totalling K386 million of which K315,800 million will be brought forward for investment in the 2015 Pacific Games" he said in his budget speech.
**** Roads to be improved next year. November 20th 2013 ****
The transport network in the country is deteriorating, so extensive construction and maintenance works are required to improve these links, a 2014 budget report says.
There is an ongoing need to not only improve the state of the major economic corridors, but to continue to expand the air and sea transport links. " Too many feeder roads are impassable, forcing increased demand on sea and air transport infrastructure.
About 60% of the national roads and 80% of the provincial and feeder roads are in poor condition and wharves, jetties and airports need urgent maintenance work. The Government is committed to improving the three modes of the transport sector to establish an investment platform as a basis for sustainable growth and effective social service delivery in PNG.
The government said it intended to utilise revenue generated from the extractive industry to invest in key infrastructure areas, including establishing new links and economic corridor roads.
**** State forecasts 6.2% growth. November 20th 2013 ****
The budget is set against assumptions of a modest re-acceleration of activity in the global economy in 2014 compared to this year. A Government statement said in 2014, global activity was expected to grow by 3.6%. This is a result of a potential reduction in uncertainty relating to the fiscal crisis in the euro area and the United States, continuing monetary policy accommodation and gradually easier financial conditions.
The outlook for the PNG economy for 2014 remains positive, with Growth forecast to be 6.2% representing 14 consecutive years of economic growth. The growth is likely to occur despite the gradual winding down of the construction phase of the LNG project in the first half of 2014. In 2014 total revenue and grants are expected to be to be K12,688.5 Million, a growth of K2,206.9 Million or a 21% increase on 2013. This strong growth is driven by K750 Million in additional compliance efforts by the internal revenue commission and PNG customs, the sale of equity in PNG LNG (K600 Million) and underlying growth in nominal GDP. Total expenditure and net lending is estimated at K15,041.5 Milion growth of K1,829.2 Million or 13.8% increase on 2013. The growth in expenditure and net lending is largely driven by an increase in capital formation at the national department level increasing by K1,281.1 Million to K2,365.2 Million in 2014. Overall this will result in a defect of K2,353 Million or 5.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) down from 7.9% in 2013.
**** Church-State partnerships get K25million. November 20th 2013 ****
Churches providing vital services in the country can expand on their service delivery for the next year after K25million from the national Budget was allocated for the Church-State partnership program. At present churches in the partnership program include Anglican, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Salvation Army, Lutheran, United and the Baptist church. The allocated K25million follows a pledge of support from the government made by National Planning Minister Charles Abel during the 2013 Sate-Church Partnership Program held in Port Moresby last month. Mr Abel said during the forum that a stronger partnership between churches and the government can result in effective service delivery to the people.
**** ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER HON. PETER O’NEILL, CMG MP AT THE HIGH LEVEL DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS FORUM ON THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT STRATEGY FRIDAY, 22ND NOVEMBER, 2013 ****
I acknowledge the presence of:
Minister for Transport -- Hon. Ano Pala;
Minister for Works & Implementation -- Hon Francis Awesa;
Minister for Civil Aviation – Hon. Steven Davies;
The International Development Partners;
ADB, World Bank, AusAID, JICA and European Union
Members of the Transport Sector Coordination, Monitoring and Implementation Committee;
Other Distinguished Guests
Ladies; and Gentlemen.
This is an important forum and I am pleased that our government’s ministers responsible for important aspects of the transport sector are present to join in discussions on our nation’s transport sector development strategy. Development and provision of an efficient transport system in our country is an important national agenda. This forum is being held against a national transport sector back-drop featuring seriously deteriorated transport infrastructures in all our provinces.
The very poor state of our national and provinical roads, non-existence of wharves and jetties in most maritime provinces and closure of many provincial and district airstrips stems from many years of maintenance neglect. As a responsible government we have begun a major program of development, maintenance and rehabilitation of these important transport assets starting this year as the Year of Implementation. This program will be rolled out every year throughout our government’s tenure in office.
As a reflection of our government’s continuing serious commitment to rebuilding our nation’s fallen transport infrastructure we have allocated K2.7 billion in cluding a donor funding component of K769 million in the 2014 for infrastructure development, maintenance and rehabilitation.
Construction and maintenance of roads and bridges nationwide is a critical area and our government has allocated K1.6 billion including a donor funding component of K339 million to the Department of Works under the 2014 Budget continue new developments and upgrades in this sector.
Transport infrastructure in four of our nation’s main urban centres will also be given uopgrades and facelift to develop these cities as important service hubs for our four regions.
Additional funds of K30 million will be spend in Port Moresby to upgrade and rehabilitate Jacksons Airport and K170 million will be spend on new and existing roads next year.
Lae will receive a total of K270 million for Lae port development and K100 million for new and existing roads, Mount Hagen will receive K40 million for its new and existing roads and Kokopo will get K15 million for Tokua Airport upgrade and the road from the airport to Kokopo township. Our government is able to deliver these projects on the back of generous grants, loans and lines of credit extended to us by our donor and development partners.
My three Ministers for the Transport Sector will play important roles in the successful delivery of the transport and other infrastructure sector programs in the coming year and beyond. The National Transport Strategy forum today gives all of us the opportunity and our Development Partners to critically analyse where we are at insofar as this important sector is concerned and to chart new ways forward to make the transport sector more efficient and cost-wise, more user friendly for all our citizens, residents, the business community and visitors to our country.
I am sure the three Ministers will respectively speak to their portfolio responsibilities during the course of the day.
One of the first steps this government undertook when we came into office was the ratification of the Alotau Accord and the Platform for Action that it provided.
A key feature of the Alotau Accord was to improve the delivery of transport infrastructure and transport services with a view to improving the social and economic outcomes for the nation.
To achieve the Government’s commitment, performance agreements were signed by respective agency heads with their respective ministers and I note that one of three priority projects for the Department of Transport was the National Transport Strategy launched at the end of July this year. This is a milestone for the sector. You have an actual blueprint of what needs to be done to achieving the programs, projects and activities articulated in the Medium Term Transport Plan 2014-2018.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the ADB and the then AusAID Program for their past and on-going support and assistance to the transport sector and look forward to the implementation outcomes of the new Austratlian Aid program.
The presence of Director General of the ADB, Mr.Xianbin Yao, Australian Aid and other Development Partners like World Bank, European Union and JICA is also acknowledged and I thank you all and your organisations for your continuing contribution in the development of our nation’s Transport Sector.
Today’s forum should set the stage and scene for the implementation of the National Transport Startegy and the Medium Term Transport Plan, where the Development Partners can indicate to the Government on the type of support and assistance and where and how they will deliver it to achive the Government’s objectives. We need to take firm action if we are to realise our national vision of a healthy, wealthy and educated society.
Transport is integral to achieving this as it impacts on each and every one of us on a daily basis. The National Transport Strategy must provide the Transport Sector with a flexible and responsive approach to moving our nation forward while recognising that we cannot do everything at once.
We currently have over 9,000km of ‘national’ roads, 21 major airports, 22 seaports supported by another 21,000km of rundown provincials roads, hundreds of non-operating airstrips and rotting jetties which come under the responsibility of Provincial Governments or the private sector.
A large proportion of the provincial infrastructure is in a very poor condition, especially the rural airstrips which our government is committed to improving under our “going rural” policy. I acknowledge the continued funding support from ADB, Australian Aid and World Bank on roads and bridge projects and JICA on bridge projects in Bougainville.
With the PNG transport sectors’ policies and investment plans outlined in the NTS approved by my government, it is my desire that as part of the review process of your respective Country Assistance Strategies with PNG, that further additional financial and technical support be provided to this very important sector. In closing, I wish you all a successful forum and I look forward to the outcomes you reach in this meeting.
**** Prime Minister O'Neill says " I will find the foreign nationals with double identities who are being protected by politicians". November 22nd 2013 ****
Politicians are protecting and involved with foreign nationals with double identities, Prime Minister Peter ONeill told Parliament yesterday. The Prime Minister and Minister of Police said that the police are aware of foreign nationals currently residing in the country with different passports and are allegedly involved with some MP's who are protecting them. " There are some Indians and Pakistanis, some of them are involved with our leaders in the House, with passports that are from different countries and not their country of origin" he said. He further added that there was a case of Pakistani holding a Somali passport, a Lebanese with an Australian passport and an Indian in possession of a Pakistani passport , they all live under the protection of some local politicians.
"This kind of terrorist sort of behaviour where persons of country of origin are not holding onto passports where they are entitled to and holding passports of other countries us a case that needs a lot of explanation" Mr ONeill said. Our police units are starting to investigate that and they are writing to the leader concerned to bring these personnel that he is protecting to the police force so that they can be interviewed. The Prime Minister revealed this when answering questions from the Governor of Sandaun Amkat Mai in Parliament yesterday.
**** NEC APPROVES PROPOSED HIGHER EDUCATION (GENERAL PROVISIONS) BILL 2013. November 22nd 2013 ****
The national government is seriously looking at introducing legislative reforms to the Higher Education Act 1983 to achieve quality education. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said the National Executive Council recently endorsed the rationale for this legislative reform. He said Cabinet also approved a proposed Higher Education (General Provisions) Bill 2013 which will be tabled in Parliament. Once passed, this legislation will repeal the Higher Education Act 1983. “This new Bill has been prepared to update the provisions of the 1983 Act to better reflect PNG’s current needs for quality in higher and technical education and more coordinated development of national capabilities in research, science and technology. “The new legislation clarifies requirements for the approval of new institutions, including new universities, and will better assure the quality of existing institutions,” he said. As part of this reform, NEC has also approved the establishment of a new Department of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology which will take over the roles currently performed by the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) and the Office of Higher Education (OHE). Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said this change was well-overdue as the 1983 Act which establishes the CHE and OHE has no requirement for the accountability and performance of institutions of higher learning. “Under the old Act, the jurisdiction of the CHE extends to ‘declared’ institutions such as those who receive government funding.
“The existing Act is obsolete in addressing the challenge of improving quality to international standards. It does not mention quality assurance or set out any processes to assure the quality of institutions. It does not provide adequately for the important gatekeeping functions to prevent the establishment of bogus, poor quality or financially unsustainable institutions and providers,” he said. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said much has changed in the country and Higher Education since 1983. “These days, governments and the public recognise the need to have a legal, policy and regulatory framework for tertiary education that is comprehensive, clear, supportive of the minister, but independent where it needs to be, protects the public and is consistent with international good practises. “The legal framework must give powers to the relevant agency to assure quality and take action if providers do not meet standards,” he said. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said the reform aims to bring about a legal and regulatory environment that encourages innovation and achievement, promoting quality, improving institutional and organisational accountability and advancing research, science and technology.
**** NEC APPROVES RESTORATION OF PYRETHRUM INDUSTRY. November 22nd 2013 ****
The National Executive Council has approved the restoration of the country’s Pyrethrum industry. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said a big step towards resurrecting this industry was the transfer of the assets of the now-defunct Kagamuga Natural Products Company Limited to the Enga Pyrethrum Company Limited.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said it was important to preserve and revitalize this industry as a major income source for the rural people living in high altitude areas, especially in the highlands provinces. He said pyrethrum, a chemical derived from dried chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium flowers, could be Enga’s saving grace as the giant Porgera gold mine winds down its operations.
The pyrethrum is an effective insecticide and protects against mosquitoes that cause malaria and yellow fever. It is also one of few cash crops that grow well in high altitude areas like Enga. “Realising its huge potential, the Enga Provincial Government has embarked on a massive campaign to promote widespread cultivation of pyrethrum.
“The provincial government has already bought off a run-down pyrethrum factory in Mount Hagen, which was shut down a decade ago. It will be restored to generate revenue for the province under the umbrella of the Enga Pyrethrum Company,” said Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill. Laiagam is currently the main producer of pyrethrum in Enga Province followed by Wabag and Kandep.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill says there is strength in the Government's transparency. November 26th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill says his Government has gone through major trials and turbulent times in the political history of this nation but challenges were good to serve the people. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said the good thing for the country was that the people were ready for change. He said change would be propelled with the quality of leaders in the Government who were a good team of mature and highly educated leaders from reputable and strong political parties. One of their strengths was transparency. "The good thing about the Government is that everything is transparent, the Cabinet decision is transparent as it is a collective work," he said. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said no country had transformed in 40years but Papua New Guinea had achieved a lot over those years and was on a road to further transformation. He said the country was on track and the economy was doing good despite the deficit budget.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill hails faithful servants. November 26th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill has commended public servants who are loyally performing their duties in rural parts of the country. During grievances debate last Friday in Parliament, the PM said only a few people were painting a bad picture of what is otherwise a human resource sector "thriving with excellent individuals who are dedicated to serving the people of PNG" "A lot of bad things have been said about public servants over the past few weeks, but I must insist that there are a lot of good people who genuinely have the country's best interest at heart," said Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill. Systems are in place and that about 70 per cent of public servants were in rural areas carrying out their duties with the utmost proficiency, the Government under his leadership was now looking for ways to help the public services system mutually work for both the public as well as the servants providing the services, especially in the remote areas.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill passionate about service delivery. November 26th 2013 ****
Improvement in leadership standards and capacity is the most important remedy to service delivery to the people, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O Neill says " I have always been passionate about service delivery to our people. I have become more aware of the contrast between our rich natural resources and the comparative poverty of our people over the past 12 months since being the Prime Minister and I want this to change.". He was launching the ethics and values-based executive leadership and management capability framework in Port Moresby yesterday. "By international standards our people are low down on the UN Human development Index," he said. "In terms of education, health care and standards of living we have much to achieve as a nation." He said that the Government was determined to see that the country moved up the UN Human development index through improved services delivery and eduction of wastage in the public sector.
**** ABG gets thumbs up for progress of projects. November 26th 2013 ****
Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc is happy with the progress being carried out by the Autonomous Bougainville Government under the National Government's Rural Electrification Programme. It includes the upgrading and sealing of the Buka Ring Road. He visited the rural electrification project up to Malasang village on Buka Island last Saturday. Sir Manasupe said although there has been some differences between the ABG and the National Government on projects under the Special Intervention Fund, it was now evident that work had been done and this must be acknowledged.
**** Defence Minister Fabain Pok ask's Israel for Maritime surveillance help. November 27th 2013 ****
Defence Minister Fabian Pok has requested the Israeli Government to assist the PNG defence force with resources to strengthen maritime surveillance. Pok said the lack of capacity in conducting surveillance on sea borders was a major issue which the defence force naval division and other Government agencies faced. He said the country was loosing millions of Kina through illegal fishing and other activities because of the lack of border surveillance by the naval division. Pok was replying in Parliament yesterday to Kandrian-Gloucester MP Joseph Lelang's question on what plans the Defence Minister had on improving the Navy's capacity in surveillance. He said during his recent trip to Israel he has talked to a few companies on how they could assist in terms of resources including the replacement of the Defence Forces patrol boats. He had also written to the Israeli Government for assistance and was waiting a response. Pok said such improvements would be very costly and would eat into the defence force budget but it was a matter of national importance that would be seriously looked in to. Lelang said the Navy was tasked with ensuring that borders were protected but the patrol boats they used were old and could not travel further out into sea.
**** BUDGET PASSED. November 27th 2013 ****
Parliament has overwhelmingly passed the K15 Billion National Budget in its final sitting for the year, drowning out any opposition to it. It was passed at 7:15 last night. There were 92 MP's in the house during the vote including three opposition leaders led by Namah. Treasurer Don Poyle described the budget as "not the best but the biggest and the best" in the countries history. He said it it was based on the macro-economic policies of the Government aimed to grow the economy and improve the lives of the people in the rural communities.
**** INVESTMENT TO GROW GDP. November 27th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill says the 2014 budget continues the foundations laid this year. The record spending in infrastructure development, health, education and business development was justified for the continued growth of the country's gross domestic product. " No economy can grow without investing in infrastructure development" he said during the budget debate in Parliament before it was passed. " that is a fact all around the world, we are continuing the rehabilitation of the Highlands Highway with K150 Million, we are putting another K100 Million into Lae city roads. There is K10 Million for the Buluminski Highway to complete the Upgrade to Namatanai, New Ireland. With ADB funding, we will upgrade and seal the Malalaua-Karema Highway " This will continue to Kikori and link up with the southern highlands Gulf Highway which is being funded. This will connect that part of the world with the rest of the Highlands, Lae and Madang. The Australian Government will fund the Ramu-Madang Highway and there are other allocations for other roads in the country which must be upgraded and built so our people can use them to have accesability and give them opportunities".
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said the K50 Million allocated for the development of the Sepik plains would create opportunities in that part of the country. " There has been a lot of talk over the years to develop this region but nothing is ever done". Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said there was an allocation in the budget for the PNG LNG project which would enable land owners to directly participate in the massive project. " This was agreed to when we sanctioned the project during the UBSA negations". We are now allocating the funds to allow the land owners to participate, to give security to the project that is vital to our economy.
The Opposition Leader has misrepresented him self and mislead the house by describing it as expropriating something belonging to our people". If he reads the budget books better, he will understand and not make misleading and inflammatory comments like he did.". He urged Opposition Leader Belden Namah to debate facts and put the interests of the country first.
**** Dual Citizenship -Amendment gets overwhelming 84-0 support in first reading. November 27th 2013 ****
Proposed amendments to the Constitution to allow for dual citizenship received an overwhelming 84-0 votes in its favour at its first reading in Parliament yesterday.
The Bill sought to amend the Constitution to enable Papua New Guineans to obtain more than one citizenship. The Government also plans to introduce an amendment to put beyond doubt the Government’s ability to limit the personal liberty of asylum seekers and other foreign nationals transferred to PNG under regional arrangements.
Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato praised the Bill, saying Papua New Guineans are disadvantaged compared to citizens of more than 60 other modern nations because of their inability to take up a new citizenship without automatically losing their PNG citizenship.
Mr Pato said although Papua New Guineans may have lived in other countries for many years, their access to jobs, services and other benefits were limited by their inability to take up the citizenship of that country. "Those who do make the hard choice to take up a new citizenship and have their link to the land of their birth and their ancestors irrevocably severed," Mr Pato said.
**** ICAC gets overwhelming support. November 27th 2013 ****
PARLIAMENT has taken the first step in setting up the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in a 92-0 votes.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in presenting the ICAC Bill just after the passage of the 2015 Budget, said when taking office in August 2011, one of the first NEC decisions was to adopt the anti-corruption strategy 2010-2030, setting a path way to address corruption and improve good governance.
"One of the key actions is the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption," he said. "We knew that establishing the ICAC would take time. So the Government moved quickly to establish Taskforce Sweep to deal with immediate instances of corruption."
"I am pleased to say that significant progress has been made by the Sweep Team. We are on course to seriously improve the integrity of our country."
"Today marks the first step in the legislative process to establish the ICAC. The first step is to amend the Constitution to establish the Commission. The full details of the Commission will be included in a new Organic Law."
He said he plans to bring the Organic Law to Parliament early next year, however, the first thing to do is pass this Constitutional Amendment.
**** National Alliance Leader supports budget. November 27th 2013 ****
NATIONAL ALLIANCE Party Leader and Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch is one of the first coalition partner leaders to congratulate the Treasurer for handing down a record 2014 budget. "I believe the Treasurer has done well in putting together a budget that takes into account present economic circumstances with focus on future," he said.
Mr Pruaitch described the budget as a budget informed by the lessons from the past, shaped by present economic circumstances, and focused on future growth and economic prosperity. "I stand to add to the 2014 Budget debate, somewhat filled with mixed emotions, not necessary because of anything exceptional, but because of the many hats I wear. I will speak primarily as Minister for Forest and Climate Change.
"However, I also recall my experience as a former treasurer in the previous National Alliance-led Government.
"I also represent the well-being of my people of Aitape-Lumi and also the Parliamentary Leader of the National Alliance Party, a coalition partner in this Government.
From experience, I understand how tough and challenging it is to try and fit outrageous budget submissions into a tight fiscal envelope apart from the need to reasonably accommodate priority programs and projects through additional borrowing through a deficit level that is well within the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Act."
He said the strategy suits the current challenging circumstances. "In the face of tough economic conditions, the Budget strategy provides our economy the necessary ammunition to sail through the turbulent waters of our time onto the promise of future prosperity," he said.
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON. PETER O’NEILL, CMG, MP ON THE OCCASION OF
THE TABLING OF THE BILL TO AMEND THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH THE INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION (ICAC)
Mr Speaker, Today I present a very important Bill to amend the Constitution to establish the Independent Commission Against Corruption (or ICAC).
Mr. Speaker, when we took office in August 2011, one of the first NEC decisions was to adopt the Anti-Corruption Strategy 2010-2030. This strategy is the first of its kind and sets a clear path way to address corruption and improve good governance. Mr. Speaker, in November of 2011 NEC approved 11 key actions to be undertaken between 2012 and 2015 to give effect to this Strategy. One of the key actions is the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Mr Speaker, we knew that establishing the ICAC would take time. So the Government moved quickly to establish Task-force Sweep to deal with immediate instances of corruption.
Mr Speaker, I am pleased to say that significant progress has been made by the Sweep Team. We are on course to seriously improve the integrity of our Country. Mr Speaker, today marks the first step in the legislative process to establish the ICAC. The first step is to amend the Constitution to establish the Commission. The full details of the Commission will be included in a new Organic Law.
Mr Speaker, I am planning to bring the Organic Law to Parliament early next year. However, the first thing to do is pass this Constitutional Amendment. Mr Speaker, the support of every Member of Parliament in voting for this Bill is a fulfilment of our promise to our people. It is a defining moment; a moment of truth; a moment each and every one of us in this House stand at the mercy of our people to judge us. Corruption is an insidious crime against our people, Mr. Speaker. If we, as leaders, don’t stand up and say no to corruption, who will? This is a noble challenge for us.
But today is an opportunity for every Member of Parliament to take this moral position and say no to corruption by voting for this Bill. The Bill, Mr. Speaker, has been developed through an extensive public consultative process covering the four regions of the Country. Public servants have had public meetings, been on radio and received numerous written submissions.
From the consultation it was clear that people at all levels in the community overwhelmingly support the establishment of the ICAC as an independent constitutional office. People want ICAC to be free of undue political influence and to undertake its work without fear or favour. They want ICAC to be different from existing anti-corruption institutions. ICAC should be able to receive and initiate investigations on its own accord and prosecute the perpetrators.
Mr. Speaker, this Bill establishes the ICAC and sets out clearly its purpose, functions, powers and accountability. The purpose of the ICAC is to contribute, in co-operation with other agencies, to preventing, reducing and combating corrupt conduct. The ICAC will be headed by a Commissioner and two Deputy Commissioners who shall be appointed through an Appointments Committee. The composition of the Appointments Committee will be provided for in the new Organic Law. Most importantly, Mr Speaker, the proposed Bill provides that the ICAC is not subject to the direction and control of any person or authority.
Mr Speaker, once the ICAC becomes operational it will naturally take over the good work that the Sweep Team has been doing. Mr. Speaker, the ICAC will complement the work of the Ombudsman Commission and the Police. It will not subsume their functions. The Ombudsman Commission will continue to administer the Leadership Code and ensure leaders remain accountable. The Police will continue to carry out their fraud and anti-corruption work supporting the ICAC in the public and private sectors.
Mr Speaker, putting a stop to corruption is everyone’s business. Work is currently being done by the Department of Prime Minster & NEC and Justice & Attorney General to embed the message of anti-corruption and good governance in our schools and tertiary institutions. We must educate our youth so they can become better citizens tomorrow. Mr Speaker, this is not the only anti-corruption initiative of this Government. This Government is also preparing Whistle-blower and Freedom of Information legislation. This will enable people to get access to information and if they make a complaint - they can expect a certain level of protection. Mr Speaker, I want to encourage every Member of this House not to fear the ICAC but to embrace it as a step in the right direction to reducing the tide of corruption in our Country.
I commend the Bill to the House.
**** Papua New Guinea is a leader among Pacific nations in its efforts to fight against corruption. November 27th 2013 ****
Following the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill’s tabling of a Bill to Amend the National Constitution to establish the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Parliament yesterday, the country is sending strong signals to the international community that it is serious in dealing with graft.
As a member State party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), PNG has taken a number of concrete measures to combat corruption.
Trevor Meauri, Deputy Secretary (Policy) of the Department of Prime Minister & NEC will be presenting a country paper on these efforts at the 5th Conference of the State Parties (COSP5) currently underway in Panama.
“With the experience that PNG has, it is now sharing with the other Pacific Island countries so that they too can meet the UN requirements,” Mr Meauri said.
Papua New Guinea signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on the 22 of December 2004 (C.N.1303.2004.TREATIES-32) and ratified it on 16 July 2007 (C.N.731.2007.TREATIES-16). Papua New Guinea deposited its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General on 16 July, 2007 and the Convention entered into force on the 15 August, 2007.
Since becoming a member State party, PNG has progressively undertaken reforms to address corruption.
These include the development of a guiding National Anti-Corruption Strategy and a subsequent Plan-of-Action to translate key activities.
PNG has also instituted a Special Investigative Task Force (Task Force Sweep) and has embarked on an Independent Commission Against Corruption Bill, which Prime Minister O’Neill tabled in Parliament yesterday, to amend the National Constitution to establish ICAC.
Mr Meauri said Papua New Guinea enjoys a very high level of ‘political will’ that has translated into substantive policy and legislative reforms (including financial support) in its ambition to promote good governance and significantly, the delivery of services to our people.
He also highlighted the government’s effort in strengthening Anti-Money laundering legislation, including its decision to progress on a ‘Whistle blower Legislation’ and a Freedom of Information Act.
**** LNG Road will be state assets. November 28th 2013 ****
The road link used in the LNG project between Kikori, Western Province and Juha, Hela Province will become a national road, says Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill.
Prime Minister O’Neill, in response to questions raised by Member for Koroba-Kopiago, Philip Undialu on the accessibility of the road by the public, said people would be able to access the road once an agreement was reached between the State and other stakeholders.
Mr Undialu asked that the government intervene to allow for the road to be used by the people as it was a more cost efficient business trading route.
"Can the Government intervene and make that road accessible to the public so we can carry out trade and transport cargo instead of travelling all the way from Lae," Mr Undialu said.
Mr Undialu said the distance from Lae to his area in Koroba-Kopiago was about 800km whereas the project road was just over 300km so the latter would make a better route to cut down on freighting costs faced by his people.
Prime Minister O’Neill assured Mr Undialu and his people that discussions with Exxon Mobil have begun to have the road accessible for public usage. Prime Minister O’Neill said Exxon Mobil, as the project developer, had agreed for the road to be used by the public but the delay was due to conditions set by financial institutions that lent money for the project to be carried out.
"When the financial institutions lent us the money to finance the project one of the conditions they put forward was that that part of the country will have no logging and no settlements so the environment can be retained and as a result this agreement was put in place that the public was not to utilise the road," Prime Minister O’Neill said.
"As a Government we are saying that we will agree to no logging in that area and we will agree to no settlement in that area but that road must be opened because our people need that road to get services and get access to the coastal area."
Prime Minister O’Neill said further discussions would be undertaken with Exxon Mobil and the financial lenders to have this matter settled so the people could start using the road.
**** Minister Abel says "Study budget before criticising" November 28th 2013 ****
National Planning Minister Charles Abel has called on the leaders and people to study the overall budget framework before making unnecessary comments.
Mr Abel was responding to Opposition Leader Belden Namah’s reply to the 2014 Budget about the deficit levels.
"When we talk about the budget we must understand how budgets are laid out and the format of the budget, we must read it carefully and understand the substance, otherwise we will talk about things that are not necessarily true, we make up things because we do not fully understand what is in the budget in the overall context."
"The deficit is not something that is new, it is part of a five-year outlook, a clear strategy our government set at the Alotau Accord. When we came in we were confident in the future of this country, we were determine once and for all to create a budget envelop to invest in the critical underlying enablers to get our country growing and move forward."
"The 7.9 percent budget deficit in 2013 and 5.9 percent in 2014 was clearly part of government five-year outlook, there is no secret or hidden agenda and not something plucked out from the sky, it is clearly spelt out in the five- year outlook. "We are being disciplined by sticking to that outlook. We are always under pressure. We had K16 billion worth of capital projects through National Planning. Our Treasurer has maintained fiscal discipline." Minister Abel said the Government had not been irresponsible by going outside of the budget envelope."Of course, there are issues on how we raise the money and how do we fund the deficit but as we have stated all along it is contained in the budget."
He said the funding would be raised domestically for good reasons as funding was available through domestic sources and there was risk involved in going outside and borrowing and one was the foreign currency effects that could undermine the budget. "We have quite clearly stated what we are going to do that we will fund the budget deficit full using the domestic market and in 2014 if the pressures come to bear in the domestic economy we may have to look outside and that’s why Treasury has been prudent and planning for sovereign debt bond if we have to recourse to that."
**** Namah is wrong. November 28th 2013 ****
The Opposition Leader, Hon. Belden Namah on November 14 asked a series of questions to the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill which raised serious imputations and personal and professional injury to a certain long time friend of PNG. That person could not defend his good name on the floor of Parliament. It is most deplorable that the honourable member chose to use his privilege and the protection of Parliament to injure a man who has stood by and assisted this nation for nearly three decades through some of the most trying socio-economic times.
As an established economist with the IMF he helped establish the Central Bank and continues to provide advice to that august institution. He is also an architect who then PM Sir Mekere Morauta used to help set up the PNG Sustainable Development Program and has been serving as the Central Bank's representative on the board of PNGSDP. He has served with distinction under every Prime Minister PNG has had. When the present Prime Minister Hon. Peter O Neill asked him to restructure PNGSDP, he informed the board of the same and resigned as director.
This man's lifetime dream was to establish and commercialise the agricultural sector in PNG and established lasting diplomatic relations between PNG and his native Israel. He has achieved the diplomatic mission with the recent visit by Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to Israel and is about to realise the agricultural dream with what my Government has set out to do in Hela with the able support of the LR Group of Israel. The PNG Operation is headed by his lawyer son. The LR Group, contrary to misinformation spread by the Opposition Leader with his half baked questions last week, is not a fund manager. It is an investment powerhouse with investments throughout Africa, Asia and South America. They do not manage any fund.
The group was invited by the Somare government specifically to devise a way forward for the agricultural industry in Papua New Guinea.
I have engaged the LR Group to be equity partners in all the agricultural industrial centres we are building in Hela Province. We have launched three Koroba, in Tari,and in Hulia. We plan another ten more so that when completed everyone of our 13 local level government council areas will own an agricultural industrial centre. We intend to build a similar centre in Mendi and another in Ialibu in neighbouring Southern Highlands Province using our own money. When our gas and oil are gone, I know the program will serve the financial needs of my people and drive our economy into the future.
The gentleman's name does not need tarnishing. The vicious attack by the Opposition Leader is misplaced. I have it on good authority through a mutual friend that the Opposition Leader regretted his remarks as he was handed the questions by someone with an axe to grind and he read the questions without discerning what they actually were about. This man's son has a law firm in Tel Aviv with a branch in New York. He left to assist in establishing his fathers dream for PNG. That is highly laudable. I would advise Mr Namah to consider engaging the LR Group to drive agriculture development throughout his electorate and particularly in areas cleared by forestry operations.
Our Prime Minister is doing the right thing for PNG and Israel. PNG needs to learn from and emulate Israel in some fundamental aspects of nation building such as its people's patriotism, security and surveillance, and their ability to use science and technology to develop agriculture in dry arid lands. Prime Ministers Netanyahu and O'Neill have built a diplomatic bridge linking our two countries. The chief architect of the bridge was the man who came under fire in our Parliament. I am confident of building the Tari Provincial Hospital with funding raised by the LR Group with guarantees from Exxim Bank of US. With their help we will also construct the biggest hydro plant in the country in Hela with funding from Private Equity Funding from Israel with nil funding required from the National Government. I call on colleague Members of Parliament to desist from injuring the reputations of credible people who are friends of PNG by raising issues which have little merit and without factual foundation.
God bless Israel and PNG
Andrew Pawa Agiru, MP
Governor for Hela & Leader of the Peoples United Assembly Party Inc
**** Prime Minister O'Neill - take advantage of changes in Asia to grow economy. November 28th 2013 ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill says everyone should be proud of the K15 billion 2014 Budget and stay focussed on what they are doing. He said the Government was allocating funds on district development, infrastructure, roads, education, health, law and order and growing the economy through small to medium business, particularly in the agriculture sector. Prime Minister O'Neill said there was no new tax in the budget and for the first time, it had the re-current budget and the development budget combined. He said the Government could fund the districts, provinces and the local Government through the development budget. The other 50% can be used for general expenditure. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill said if Papua New Guinea wanted to grow the economy, it should be prepared to take advantage of the changes in Asia because PNG had the resources. He said Government was working with investors.
By 2030, PNG's economy would be well over K100billion, he said. The country needs K170billion in investment, he said with the growing population, the demand for services would be high. The country had invested in infrastructure to meet the demand of the population and to grow the economy.
**** Bill to remove red-tape. November 28th 2013 ****
The Public Service (Management) Act will closely scrutinise the performance of public servants, according to Public Service Minister Sir Puka Temu. He said the Bill was to remove the bureaucratic red-tape and the delays in making appointments of heads of departments, administrators and chief executive officers. He said it would hold them accountable to perform their jobs effectively as the powers were with the Ministers and the Governors to hire and fire the top public servants. The top public servants will have the powers to hire and fire public servants who fail to perform. The creation of district authorities will give powers to the district administrators to hire and fire public servants who do not perform. Under the law, the process of these appointments cannot be disputed in the courts. The Government on Tuesday passed several legislations in their first readings and Parliament is adjourned for two months.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill flew into Pangia today for the Graduation ceremony of 470 graduates - 150 grade 12s and 320 grade 10 students. A crowd of about 3000 people from all over the Ialibu-pangia constituency turned up to show their support.
**** Budget to boost growth. November 29th 2013 ****
The Government's intervention programme in the 2014 Budget will provide equal opportunities for the people to realise their full potential in life, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi says. It was viewed as real development for the people, he said. He told parliament during the budget debate that Government had handed down another fiscally responsible and prudent budget which would boost economic growth. He said the budget was in line with the terms set out in last year's budget framework. It would see an economic growth of 6.2% next year, a budget deficit that has been reduced from 7% to 5.9 per cent of GDP. Powi said stability provided by the Government in keeping the budget on target meant investors would be confident of where the nation was heading. "The country needs good infrastructure and affective delivery of services," he said. We must not shy away from our responsibilities and promises. I commend the Government for a budget which takes a comprehensive view to development and one that focusses on infrastructure, law and order while delivering outcomes in education and health"
***O’Neill Government dealing decisively with land issue. November 29th 2013***
As a result of widespread illegal land grab in the country, former acting Prime Minister Sam Abal instituted a Commission of Inquiry in July 2011 into the granting of Special Agriculture and Business Leases in the country, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office says. This inquiry was extended by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, and on June 24, 2013 a final report was presented to the Government by the Commission, the statement said. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill tabled this report in Parliament in August. The Commission was asked to examine 75 leases. They only examined 42. Of the 42, only four leases appeared to be proper and commercially viable, with bona fide landowner consent. The rest of the leases were illegal or seriously compromised. Despite these flaws, the Commission had recommended in the final report that the leases (SABLs) be continued, and made general recommendations to improve the integrity of the process.
In his statement to Parliament, the Prime Minister announced that the freeze on the SABLs would continue. He also directed the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning to appoint a Task Force to identify a new legislative framework to;
- provide for the conversion of customary land into lease hold land for the benefit of landowners;
- protect the interests of landowners:
- ensure sustainable land use.
This process will take some time, but it shows a decisive action by the O’Neill/Dion Government to protect the interests of landowners and the environment. For too long, landowners have been taken advantage of and had their land stolen, in some instances with the help of people in positions of power and responsibility. The Task Force will be consulting widely so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. The use of customary land is a sensitive issue and the government is committed to getting it right.
The Post Courier front page article yesterday titled "Land Grab Shock" failed to make reference to this decisive action by the Government to deal with and end illegal land grab in the country, the statement said. Whether it is customer land, or prime land in the city, the Government will do all it can to take back land that is illegally taken away from Papua New Guineans.