PNG Treasury Minister still happy with the country’s economic outlook

THE country’s economic outlook remains positive despite export commodity market performing below expectations, says Treasurer Charles Abel.

Charles Abel- Treasury Minister

The National reported that Mr Abel said private sector activities had also been hampered by the foreign exchange imbalance and restrictions on government domestic expenditure in recent years.
Abel told the PNG Petroleum and Energy Summit in Port Moresby that despite the setbacks, PNG was looking ahead with optimism.
He said total real growth this year was projected at 2.2 per cent.
“Growth will be driven by the non-mining sectors, feeding off the impetus from Apec-related spending across the non-mining sectors,” he said.
He also said continued improvement in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector reflected an expected good year for coffee and increased copra and copra oil production due to higher global copra demand.
Abel said in the medium term, the PNG economy was also conservatively expected to grow at an average rate of 2.4 per cent.
“However, the current projection does not take into account major pipeline projects such as the Papua LNG, P’ynang, Wafi-Golpu, Frieda Mine and Solwara 1, which once in the construction phase will provide a significant boost to the entire economy.
“The challenge I issue to the mining and petroleum sector is to advance your investment appraisal process and to develop these prospects expeditiously.”
Abel said for 2018, prices of key commodities were expected to increase modestly from last year.
“The oil price is projected at an average of US$51 per barrel in the 2018 Budget which is starting to appear conservative,” he said.
“The gold price is also expected to move slightly higher in 2018 due to ongoing safe haven demand resulting from geo-political concerns and potentially higher inflation rates.”


Exxon Mobil MD confident of PNG govt’s financial capacity for Papua LNG project

EXXONMobil PNG managing director Andrew Barry is confident of the government’s financial capacity to take part in the Papua LNG project.

Andrew Barry- Managing Director, Exxion Mobil PNG

The National reported that Mr Barry made the statement when answering a question from Facts Global Energy Group chairman Dr Fereidun Fersharaki during the PNG Petroleum and Energy Summit on Monday.

The government is expected to contribute about 22 per cent equity to the total cost of the project construction.
“That is one of the things that we are collectively working through together and working with the government on different options in the financing activities,” Barry said.
“I am confident that between ourselves and our partners and the government that we will find a solution.”
Barry noted that the upcoming negotiations with the government and partners were important milestones for the project.
“The real next big step for our perspective will be the negotiations around the gas agreement and the fiscal certainty once we get into that FEED. And once you get alignment on FEED, the gas agreements, the fiscal terms, then the FID (Final Investment Decision).
“And there is a lot of work associated with commercial agreements, integration activities and securing markets and sales agreements.”

Satellite images show damage caused by Earthquake in Hela, PNG.

Komo Airfield, Hela, Nov 10, 2016.

Satellite images show the extent of damage in Papua New Guinea after a massive earthquake rocked the country’s remote highlands on March 1, 2018, leading Exxon Mobil Corp. to cease natural gas exports from the nation.

The magnitude 7.5 temblor, which has caused numerous landslides and aftershocks, destroyed about three-fourths of the Komo airport runway, near Exxon’s operations in Hides. The country declared a state of emergency in areas hit by the disaster and Reuters has reported at least 31 people killed.

The images from DigitalGlobe Inc. show landslides that have blocked the Tagari river, which runs through the Southern Highlands province to the ocean, potentially adding a new threat to people and infrastructure downstream, should the river breach the earthen barrier.

Komo Airfield, Hela, March 1, 2018

“In this high rainfall setting, it is likely that these landslide dams will only last for weeks to months,” said Mark Quigley, an associate professor at the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne. “When the landslide dams are breached, this might cause a rapid surge in floodwaters downstream. The landslide dams should continue to be carefully monitored.”

Tagali River, Hela, March 1, 2018

Extensive areas were likely impacted by landslides in the Central Highlands over a distance of about 170 kilometers (105 miles) both northwest and southeast of the earthquake epicenter, according to Eric Fielding, a scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who cited data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.


ISC Preview: Northern Pride v PNG Hunters 

Barlow Park on Saturday, March 17 – 6pm

Head-to-Head: PNG 4 Pride 3
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #PRIDEvPNG

All the attention may have been on Todd Carney last weekend in his return to Australian football – but his young halves partner Jake Clifford impressed with his performance, scoring two tries.

The former Cyril Connell Cup Under 16 captain for the Pride in 2014, he helped lead his team to the nation final that year and knows what it means to be part of the club. The opposing halves pairing this weekend also warrants plenty of attention, with the Boas brothers Ase and Watson having grown with the experience of guiding their team to premiership glory last season. After making a winning start at home, they now have to relaunch their title defence on the road. The Pride will be without lock David Murphy who was found guilty of a dangerous throw by the QRL Judiciary this evening.

The former Cyril Connell Cup Under 16 captain for the Pride in 2014, he helped lead his team to the nation final that year and knows what it means to be part of the club. The opposing halves pairing this weekend also warrants plenty of attention, with the Boas brothers Ase and Watson having grown with the experience of guiding their team to premiership glory last season. After making a winning start at home, they now have to relaunch their title defence on the road. The Pride will be without lock David Murphy who was found guilty of a dangerous throw by the QRL Judiciary this evening.

Papua New Guinea works on digital preparations for natural disasters

Multi-hazard ‘monitoring and warning systems’ best practice is a way forward for Papua New Guinea to prepare for national disasters digitally.

Ruel Yamuni, chair of the Emergency Preparedness Working Group meeting said that this would help in efficient data collection and processing.

Papua New Guinea experiences natural disasters such as draught, flood, landslide, tsunami, king tides, wild fire, frost, cyclone and volcanic eruption that affect the people and finding solution to them is vital.

“That can be achieved through harnessing inclusive opportunities and embracing the digital future.

This will help to identify and document specific digital technologies and procedures, which best practice in communicating warnings lead to impact prevention and mitigation and in doing so it contributes to better preparedness and risk expansion of the scientific knowledge to improve warning through research and technology,” said Yamani.

Yamuna added that with Papua New Guinea’s own experience with the 1994 Rabaul eruption, it had demonstrated that early warning and preparedness is key to successfully dealing with the disaster risk reduction.

He also gave an example of the recent Kadovar Volcanic Island eruption in East Sepik Province after being dormant for more than 400 years.

”It was a small disaster in scale and the impact was reduced by quick action and local knowledge by the affected population and government authorities.”

Allegations of over K2 billion fake revenue in PNG’s 2018 Budget 

The National Alliance Party, which is the second biggest party that forms the Opposition faction in the PNG national parliament are quirying the 2018 National Budget that was passed recently by the PNG government. 

​According to NA member Ian Ling-Stuckey, the 2018 Budget assumes that in these tough times, revenues will increase from K10.5 billion in 2017 to K12.7 billion in 2018!  “This is just fake news.” 

Ian Ling-Stuckey

He says the Government is pretending just K24 million to the Internal Revenue Commission and Customs will produce and extra K755 million in revenue. A return of K31 for every extra K1 in admin costs? Just not credible.
“The 2018 Budget released unfortunately lacks credibility. There is over K2 billion of fake revenues in this 2018 budget. This is a false, crumbling building block which cannot sustain the hopes and dreams of the people of PNG. Unfortunately, both the history of this government in over-estimating revenues, and the specific unrealistic assumptions of this budget means it simply lacks the needed credibility to get this country going again.” 

 “Experience demonstrates that when these K2 billion in fake revenues do not come into government coffers, there will be big cuts in expenditure. While I welcome the big increases in health expenditure, and smaller gains in education and transport, the likelihood is that they will be cut again in the inevitable 2018 Supplementary Budget. 

“My preliminary view of this Abel Budget is that unfortunately:
• fails the people of PNG, 

• is not credible, 

• will not deal with decline in jobs and standards of living of PNG’s people, 

• will not deal with PNG’s crippling foreign exchange shortages, 

• and is not honest enough to actually deal with PNG’s acute budget crisis.

“There has not yet been enough time to fully explore the simplistic games of this budget, the fudges and deceptions throughout this document. We will do so over coming days.
“My alternative government’s philosophy is not just to oppose but to propose. So within my response, I will clearly set out why I oppose parts of this un-credible budget. But I will go further. 
I will propose solutions to the critical issues facing this country – a jobs and standards of living crisis, a foreign exchange crisis and the underlying budget crisis” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.
“My initial concerns about this budget are the un-credible revenue forecasts. From a simple businessman’s perspective, if you don’t forecast your sales correctly, then the rest of your business is at risk.

“The 2018 Budget’s revenue assumptions are, frankly, wrong. Given the state of the economy, you would be an ignorant businessman to assume your revenues were going to increase-by so much as 20%, especially when business conditions are as tough as they are now. The 2018 Budget assumes that in these tough times, revenues will increase from K10.5 billion in 2017 to K12.7 billion in 2018! This is just fake news.
“The starting point is this government over-estimated revenues by K1 billion in 2017. In 2016, they over-estimated by K2 billion. In 2015, they over-estimated by over K3 billion. If this government was a business, its shareholders would have sacked its directors.
“The 2018 Budget has, based on my early analysis, some K2 billion in “fake revenue”. And when you start with a revenue deception, the rest of your budget falls to pieces,” said the Shadow Minister for Treasury.

“Where is this K2 billion in “fake revenue”?

“Playing games by pretending just K24 million to the Internal Revenue Commission and Customs will produce and extra K755 million in revenue. A return of K31 for every extra K1 in admin costs? Just not credible – more fake news.
“Why not credible? The government tried the same trick in the 2017 budget where it claimed K19 million to the IRC would generate K400 million in extra revenue – a fake return of K21 for every extra K1 in admin costs. Instead, revenue has gone backwards by K1 billion” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.
“Why not credible? The government claims it will receive K1,250 million from our struggling State-Owned Enterprises, on top of a surprise K565 million once off payment. This is very suspicious accounting and it is very suspicious forecasting. There is no way that our State-Owned Enterprises can pay such huge dividends. 
“There simply is not enough money in the balance sheets of these organisations for such huge payments – more fake news. 

“Instead, these organisations are having to borrow money to pay these dividends in some pretty suspicious deals. This will simply mean poorer state-run services including our power and water utilities.

“Why not credible? The 2018 budget assumes an increase of over K0.5 billion in GST revenues-up from K1.5 billion in the 2017 Supplementary Budget to K2.0 billion in 2018.
“I have focused on the un-credible revenue forecasts of this budget. The Alternative Government will explore in greater detail the budget. As we go through some of this detail, we will release additional comments. These will be based around the criteria for a successful budget that I released yesterday” said the Shadow Treasurer. 

“My aim is not just to oppose but more importantly, drawing on the vibrant and successful history of the National Alliance and a team of professional shadow cabinet ministers, who were successful leaders in their own fields before entering the national parliament, to propose solutions.

“We had to get PNG out of the mess of the economic crises of the 1990s, drawing on the excellent start made by Sir Mekere. Lessons have been learnt, and we will have even better policies to deal with the current crises facing this wonderful nation.  

“I look forward to presenting these forward looking solutions of PNG’s Alternative Government, the people’s government, in my formal Budget Response on Tuesday 5 December.”

War brewing- North Korea’s fire power could reach South-East Asia

  • South-East Asia region which PNG is also part of is among identified regions which North-Korea’s fire power could reach. (see map)
  • Japan fears that North Korea could send its missiles loaded with sarin gas into Japan.

A war is brewing and possibly might erupt into World War 3. The tensions between the United States and North Korea is taking momentum with North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un not backing down on directions issued by the US to stand down its test on Nu-Clear weapons. Instead, North Korea tells US President Donald Trump to “bring it on” and threatens to launch Nu-clear attack against the US.

NK threat

North Korea is indeed a threat with its inter-continental ballistic missiles and nu-clear warhead capable of striking the mainland US. With its ongoing testing of its missiles, North Korea could launch a devastating attack with its conventional weapons. Its fire power is already within reach of South Korea, Japan, Russia and South-East Asia (which PNG is part of). And it’s believed to be developing a missile that could reach the west coast of the United States. However, a sixth missile test by North Korea just days ago was announced as fail by South Korean and US officials.

The US had to advise China to tame North-Korea but China remained natural despite numerous calls. President Trump then announced that the US will act alone on North Korea if China fails to assist. Trump was quoted as saying “if China is not going to solve North Korea, then we will.”

Trump claimed he had ‘great respect’ for China’s President Xi Jiping and ‘great respect for China’, but further warned that things could either turn out well for everybody or things could turn out not so well for anyone.

“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone,” President Trump said recently.

On the other front in North Korea, dictator Jong-un threatens a preemptive strike on the US if it thinks that the US military attack is imminent.

Already, the US on April 4, deployed a US aircraft carrier-led strike group headed towards the Western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula. The 97,000-tonne US aircraft carrier known as the USS Carl Vinson, with an escort of three warships travelled northwest with an escort of a guided-missile cruiser and two destroyers from Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.

According to US officials, the move of the USS Carl Vinson strike group is in response to recent provocations by North Korea.

According to reports from CNN, Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of US Pacific Command, directed the USS Carl Vinson strike group to sail north to the Western Pacific after departing Singapore on Saturday, Pacific Command announced.

Other super powers such as Russia and the Europe are watching closely on what may become of the close tensions between the two nations.

Australia slow in addressing Manus asylum issues

Tensions continue to heighten at the Manus asylum detention center in PNG putting lives of thousands of asylum seekers at great risk.

The attack at the camp on the afternoon of Good Friday by locals and some PNG military personal from the nearby Lombrom Navel Base had struck fear into the well-being of women and children detained at the center.

Despite investigations being carried out on the incident, many detainees are still traumatized and in fear.

Parliamentary leader for Manus, Ronny Knight, expressed concerns via social media on what had happened.

“This is just another incident that will ignite again if the Australian government does not accept responsibility and a duty of care for these refugees and process them properly.”

“We do not condone such violence,” Mr Knight said.

The visit by Australia’s Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull few days ago did not prove any positive outcome.

While Turnbull’s government maintains that talks are ongoing with the United States to have some of the asylum seekers resettled in the US, there are still doubts on the arrangement.
Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced recently that asylum seekers that cannot be resettled in the US will remain in PNG.

Turnbull on the other hand was somewhat tight-lipped on the fate of the detainees by merely saying “ we will take this process one step at a time.”

Dutton told the media in Australia recently that the people presently detained on Manus Island “would not be coming to Australia when the Papua New Guinea centre closes, no matter how hard refugee advocates push.”

“They are not coming to Australia,” Dutton told Sky News on Sunday.

“The advocates can bleat all they want, they can protest all they want. We have been very clear those people are not going to settle in our country because that would restart the people trade.”

Aggrieved locals responded via social media saying PNG was not a dumping ground for Australia and that the asylum seekers should be sent back to Australia.


PNGDF soldiers rampage on Manus detention centre

Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers based at the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island went on a rampage at the asylum detention centre on Good Friday firing several shots into the air and indiscriminately assaulting policemen, PNG Immigration Officers, other service providers and asylum seekers.


The incident occurred on Friday April 14 at about 6.30pm at the Manus Regional processing centre.

Manus Provincial Police Commander Senior Inspector David Lapu said a group of drunken soldiers in retaliation for one of their colleague who was allegedly assaulted by an asylum seeker entered the centre shouting and throwing any objects that they could lay their hands on at the asylum seekers.

He said the soldiers also assaulted his policemen on deployment at the centre, PNG immigration officers, other service providers and damaged several vehicles and properties worth thousands of kina.

PPC Yapu said the soldiers removed keys from a hired car his officers were using at the centre and drove away and also damaged it.

PPC Yapu said the Commanding officer of the Naval Base, Mr Begsy Karaki intervened and stopped the incident from getting out of hand.

A senior PNG immigration officer and an asylum seeker were treated at the international health medical service at the centre and discharged.

PPC Yapu is concerned about such unethical and unacceptable behaviour of the drunken soldiers. He said only a day ago the PNG Defence Force Chief of Staff Colonel Numa addressed the Commanders parade and made some good comments to the solders to maintain high level of disciple, professionalism and leadership.

However this message had gone to deaf ears and the soldiers showed disrespect to the international and local community at the centre PPC Yapu said.

Mr Yapu has set up an investigation team to investigate the incident and deal with the perpetrators.

“I will leave no stones unturned. Someone will answer for what happened,” said PPC Yapu.

The commanding officer has already commenced his own investigation into the incident.

The situation at the centre is quite but tense.

Man found guilty of K5.3 million fraud

A man charged with misappropriating K5.3 million was found guilty by the Waigani National Court in Port Moresby today.

David Kumalau Pondros, 47, of Timoenai village in the Manus province is among list of others that were investigation by the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITSF).


Mr Pondros obtained a K6 million under National Agriculture Development Program administered by the National Planning Department in the pretext of doing some projects but the Court found there was no evidence of spending K5.3m for the purposes of the project, according to social media post by the now disbanded Task Force Sweep Chairman Sam Koim.

The matter was adjourned to May 8 for submissions on verdict.

This is yet another success story of ITFS work.

Meanwhile, Mr Pondros is currently serving a term of 5 years for misappropriating K400,000 to build a jetty in Oro province, another ITFS case.

Mr Koim acknowledged the efforts by the Prosecutor, witnesses, and policemen involved in securing the conviction.