Monday, October 05, 2015

PM welcomes European Union decision to lift fishers' yellow card

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has welcomed the European Union's lifting the 'yellow card' warning on Papua New Guinea's tuna exports.
Speaking after the EU announced the change, O'Neill said the Government would continue to work with the fisheries sector to improve monitoring and enforcement.
"Illegal fishing and not reporting full catch amounts costs the people of Pacific island nations an enormous amount of money and undermines the sustainability of fish stocks," he said.
"Papua New Guinea is committed to ensuring we have full control of our fisheries and fighting those who would seek to illegally exploit our resources.
"Our fisheries sector has to last generations into the future and through coordinated monitoring and planning this will be the case."
O'Neill said coordination between Papua New Guinea's security agencies and industry stakeholders would continue to improve monitoring and enforcement.
"The European Union recognises the effort that is being made in Papua New Guinea to prevent the illegal removal of fish stocks and we will continue to strengthen these measures.
"We appreciate the concern that the European Union has for ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks, not only in Papua New Guinea but around the world.
"Global demand for fisheries products will only continue to rise in the coming years, so now is the time to be proactive and ensure monitoring and enforcement."
O'Neill said Pacific Islands Forum Leaders had continued to place a priority on ensuring proper management of marine resources, and this was reaffirmed at the recent Forum meeting in Port Moresby that he chaired.
"Forum Leaders have tasked fisheries, economic and foreign Ministers to undertake a joint comprehensive evaluation of systems currently in place.  This includes regional monitoring, control and surveillance, and compliance regimes, and to report back on their findings in 2016." 
O'Neill said the report would pay special attention to the use of modern information and communications technologies that can be deployed for fisheries surveillance.

PM’s Chief of Staff clears air on Opposition claims

Prime Minister's Chief of Staff Isaac Lupari has highlighted the inconsistencies and "cheap shots" in recent statements by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the Prime Minister's travel, and economic developments.
"Don Polye is misleading the people and country with his recent statements," Lupari said.
"This is wild goose chase rhetoric from a man who has not offered any real policy debate since he toppled Namah to become the Opposition Leader.
"His continuous negative attitude is an indicative of someone with a vendetta and a bitter mindset.
"This is dangerous for the country, and he should seriously consider whether he is worthy of being the alternative Prime Minister of the country."
Following Polye's questioning of the Prime Minister traveling overseas for State business, Lupari said the Opposition Leaders' comments were inappropriate.
"Don Polye should know better, as former senior minister and chairman of the World Bank and IMF, that the Prime Minister, by virtue of his position, is mandated to conduct state businesses in the country and outside of the country.
"We live in a global community and Papua New Guinea has to engage with the international community both at government and business levels.
"What Don Polye is saying is that Papua New Guinea should not engage with the rest of the world.
"His isolationist policy would spell disaster for the country and our people.
"It is rather sad for people like Don Polye to live outside of the real world."
Lupari further questioned the Opposition Leader's ongoing negative commentary about the State loan to purchase Oil Search shares.
"The UBS loan was undertaken for the State of Papua New Guinea to acquire 10.2 % shares in Oil Search Limited.
"This matter is still before the Court and with the Ombudsman Commission, so it is improper for the Prime Minister to comment on it.
"The Opposition Leader and those who continue to dwell breathlessly on this issue, must respect our legal system and Judiciary processes.
"Polye and his cohorts should simply wait for the outcome of these proceedings.
"Don Polye should get his facts right when he wants to make statement regarding the economy and Government's Finance.
"He keeps misfiring on all fronts, which can only affect the image of the country.
"This Government is trying its best to attract foreign investments into the country and it does not help, when people like Don Polye make misleading comments about the state of the economy.
"This only goes to show that either he lacks real understanding of the dynamics of the economy and finance or he is simply playing politics."
Lupari said the Prime Minister had already issued a statement on the royalty and development levy due to the landowners and provincial governments.
"These funds were kept in the trust accounts with the Bank of Papua New Guinea and will be released to the landowners and provincial governments after landowner identification process was completed.
"None of these funds are used by Government for budgetary purposes.
"If Don Polye is concerned, all he has to do is ask the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea.
"It appears his statement is another reflection on misunderstanding and inability to debate policy issues.
"What the Prime Minister has said on the issue of LNG revenue was very clear.
"First, that PNG LNG project revenues are being affected by the decline in the Oil price.
"Therefore revenue inflow to the State will be less than what was expected in the Budget.
"That is a fact, and it is truth. PNG has no influence over the oil price on the world stage, and therefore we have to adjust to reflect this.
"That is why Treasurer will tabled a supplementary budget in the October-November Parliament Sitting.
"Secondly, the Prime Minister issued an statement on the issue of royalties for landowner and provincial governments, and a development levy for LNG provinces from the LNG Project.
"This was following questions about the whereabouts of these funds which were raised by landowners and others.
"The Prime Minister has confirmed that all royalty and development payments are keep in the Trust Account with the Bank of Papua New Guinea for safe keeping until the landowner identification process was completed.
"Also, none of the above funds have been or are going to be used for budget purposes.
"If Don Polye wants to know the truth, he should simply ask the Governor of Bank of Papua New Guinea, instead of lying to the people of Papua New Guinea.
"This Government is all about growing the economy, creating employment for our people, and stimulating the growth of the private sector development and delivery basis services to our people.
"The Government is not interested in playing nonsense politics with people like who are bereft of ideas and just want to talk the country down for their own gain.
"If Don Polye is so concern about the welfare of the people, he should start attending to his people of Kandep, whom he has neglected for so long."

What Don Polye said

Opposition Leader Don Polye has questioned Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s "secret trip" to Singapore.
 Polye queried why O’Neill quietly slipped out of the country without even officially appointing an acting Prime Minister.
“Why has O’Neill accompanied by selected cabinet ministers left quietly for Singapore?” asked Polye.
The Opposition Leader believes O’Neill is in a hurry to secure an additional loan to burden the country.
"The departure of O’Neill comes at a time when Bank of PNG has come out clear telling the country that proceeds of LNG is not kept in a trust account.
"Prime Minister Peter O’Neill previously said the proceeds were kept safe in a trust account within the bank.
"BPNG Governor Loi Bakani announced that LNG revenue is not kept by the Bank."
Following Bakani’s explanation, the Opposition Leader commended Bakani for coming out with the truth.
“Mr Bakani’s explanation directly tells us that O’Neill has been telling lies to the landowners that their money is being kept at the trust account at BPNG,” said Polye.
“I call on leaders from the resource provinces to take O’Neill to task as he has been lying.” 
He said over 120 LNG shipments had been made and this should bring in over K4.8 billon in revenue.
 Polye reiterated his earlier comments that he had classified information that proceeds from LNG were kept in a ESCRO account operated by the UBS to pay off the K3 billion loan O’Neill has obtained from them.
 Polye said proceeds of LNG were mortgaged to pay off the K3 billion UBS loan obtained by the O’Neill government.
He said nationally owned company NPCP acted for the government in ensuring that proceeds from the LNG go straight to an account in Singapore.
"NPCP on behalf of the state signed a payment direction deed in 2014.
"The deed signed allowed the establishment of Escrow account in its own name with UBS in Singapore.
"As per the payment direction deed, all proceeds will go to a withholding company, GloCO which then services the UBS loan. GloCO is then paid for its services all from the proceeds of PNG LNG."

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Minister Pato seeks US support on significant Pacific Islands issues

Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato at the United Nations

 Pacific Island Forum Leaders with the Secretary-General of the United Nations,  Ban ki-moon.
Papua New Guinea's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, has conveyed Pacific Island State concerns and sought support from the United States on issues such as climate change.
Representing Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, Pato raised the issues at a meeting of Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders with the United States Assistant Secretary of State,  Danny Russell in New York last Friday.
Pato further expressed his desire for United States' backing at the COP21 Conference in Paris this year on climate issues that were of vital significance to lives and communities in the Pacific.
"The United States is aware of the threat brought about by climate change and extreme weather in the Pacific.
"Assistant Secretary Russell expressed his concern at the devastation caused by tropical storms in Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and the need for concerted efforts at all levels to assist small island countries in mitigation and resilience efforts.
"He further informed the meeting that whilst the US Administration wished to do more, the political dynamics in Washington does not always help the Administration's desire in this regard.
"We appreciated Assistant Secretary Russell's concern for the issues affecting our region and the broader global community, as well as the difficulty faced in gaining bipartisan support in the United States Capital."
Pato said Russell and his team received a briefing on the Pacific Regionalism framework endorsed by the recent PIF Leaders' meeting.
"Areas such as fisheries, climate change, cervical cancer and West Papua, that are covered in the Pacific Regionalism Framework, truly capture the concerns and aspirations of the people of the Pacific.
"Assistant Secretary Russell made the point that the United States is a Pacific State and hence appreciates the need for solidarity with the PIF countries in advancing issues of common concern.
"On the nuclear weapons issue, Pacific Leaders have urged the United States to ratify the Treaty of Raratonga as well as find just solutions for the people of Marshall Islands as a consequence of nuclear tests in the region.
Russell congratulated Papua New Guinea for successfully hosting the 45th PIF Forum, and a copy of the PIF Leaders Joint-Communique was given to the United States contingent.
Pato thanked the United States contingent, that also included the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Samantha Power, and other high ranking officials for hosting the meeting with the PIF Leaders.
While in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly Meeting, Pato also chaired a meeting between the Pacific Island Forum Leaders with the Secretary-General of the United Nations,  Ban ki-moon.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Chief Secretary commends SABL implementation taskforce

Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc (pictured), has applauded the Special Agriculture & Business Leases (SABL) Implementation Taskforce, for the outstanding report to implement the recommendations found during the Commission of Inquiry into SABLs.
This special taskforce is comprised of Dr Laurence Sause (Chair & Policy and Government Advisor) and two retired public servants  Kutt Paonga (Legal advisor) and Daniel Katakumb (Land Advisor).
Sir Manasupe said in 2011 the government set up a Commission of Inquiry into SABLs, which found that many leases needed to be revoked.
He said the government then referred the matter to a ministerial committee to implement the findings of that particular inquiry.
"However, the ministerial committee could not progress much for various reasons," Sir Manasupe said.
He said towards the end of 2014, Cabinet set up a special taskforce – SABL Implementation Taskforce - under the Chief Secretary, to look at means and ways on how to effectively implement the COI findings.
"Currently the laws are complicated and ineffective to revoke these leases therefore amendments to the legislation will be considered.
"From the report provided by this special taskforce, the government now has a clear way to implement the revocation of non-genuine leases.
"I commend the taskforce for a job well done in making it easier for the government to move forward," Sir Manasupe said.
He said the taskforce had advised the government on how best to implement the findings of the COI.
"Out of the 75 SABLs throughout the country, only 42 SABL reports were provided by only two members of the commission – Nicholas Mirou and John Numapo -  who provided finding recommendations that 30 were to be cancelled, 11 to be suspended and that only one SABL was in order.
"The other 30 SABL reports, however, have not been received by the government hence the government is now pursuing other actions to obtain them," Sir Manasupe said.
He also announced that the report was now ready to go before Cabinet for approval.
"In the not too distant future, the government hopes that some of the land will be returned to landowners," Sir Manasupe said.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Communications minister to introduce cross-media ownership laws

Communications and Information Technology Minister, Jimmy Miringtoro, has foreshadowed important reforms to cross media-ownership laws in Papua New Guinea in the upcoming session of Parliament.
Miringtoro said he was concerned at the way NRL broadcast rights were suddenly taken away from a free-to-air television station, which he said was a move that left a lot of unanswered questions.
The minister said there was growing concern that competition in the communications sector would be crushed if large foreign conglomerates could begin to monopolise the market. 
"We will not allow one dominant player in the Papua New Guinea communications market as this is not fair on the people of our nation," said Miringtoro.
"Given enough power these large companies can force out the smaller phone, television, radio and newspaper platforms, and then expand to other areas such as advertising.
"When one company has a monopoly over multiple media platforms they could potentially take the market for granted and charge much higher prices to our people.
"Cross-media ownership structures need to be clearly defined so that competition is ensured in our country and this will deliver better media services to our people.
"We already pay high prices that are imposed for Internet and mobile telephone calls.
"If a large phone company was able to expand into television, the savings afforded by vertical integration backed up by the deep pockets of the foreign conglomerate, would probably mean the end of any completion in Papua New Guinea media and communications.
"It would also mean one foreign company had control over the entertainment, news and sport seen by our people, and would probably see Papua New Guineans forced to pay to watch each NRL game.
"The O'Neill/Dion Government will not approve the takeover of our communications sector by a single company, and we will legislate to ensure clarity and competition in the sector."
Miringtoro said he was particularly concerned at the way the rights to broadcast NRL had been taken away from a free-to-air television station and given to a pay television broadcaster.
"For decades Papua New Guineans have been able to watch rugby league on free-to-air television," he said.  
"This works in a developing country like ours as the television station gets advertising revenue from companies and our grassroots people do not have to pay to watch.
"Suddenly we find that has changed and now everyone will have to pay to buy a box to watch NRL.  
"This is a major disappointment for people around the nation and we will consider legislation to ensure free-to-air channels have first right to broadcast significant national sports.
"NRL and State of Origin would certainly be considered in such a list of sports.
"We will find our what was behind the sudden loss of NRL broadcast rights on free-to-air television."

State receives another K50 million from National Fisheries Authority

Chief Secretary to Government Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc (centre) receives the K50 million from NFA Managing Director John Kasu (left) and Chairman Job Pomat
The National Government today  received another K50 million in dividends from the National Fisheries Authority.
This is on top of the first component of K25 million presented earlier to the government in August this year.
The K50 million cheque was presented to the Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, by the NFA Chairman Job Pomat and Managing Director John Kasu, in Port Moresby.
Sir Manasupe thanked NFA for its ongoing support to the government, saying the NFA board's commitment of providing increasing dividends to the government over the years contributed largely to the country's revenue cycle.
He said the NFA was one of the few State-owned enterprises that continued to bring in increasing dividends every year.
"The dividends like all other dividends will be put in to the government purse for the budget.
"I would also like to applaud the National Fisheries Authority for its efforts in successfully meeting the European Union's requirements, which has resulted in the uplifting of the yellow flag restrictions on our fishing regulations," Sir Manasupe said.
He said Prime Minister Peter O'Neill would make an official announcement on the uplifting of the yellow flag ban by EU, in the next few days
Pomat also revealed that NFA had just received a letter from the European Union that the yellow flag ban on fishing processes in PNG waters had been lifted.
He said this was a proper opportunity to raise PNG's standards to be the first-class tuna provider in the world.  
Last year, NFA furnished a total of K50 million in dividends to the State compared to this year's K75 million.

PM questions motive and intent of Somare complaint to Ombudsman Commission

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill  has raised serious concerns at the motive and intent of the complaint submitted by Sir Michael Somare to the Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea.
"The actions by Sir Michael Somare in submitting his recent complaint are self-serving and not in the best interests of the country," O'Neill said.
"The events that took place in 2011 were because of Somare not being honest with the people of Papua New Guinea, and with the Parliament, about the seriousness of his illness and his lengthy absence as the Prime Minister of the country.
"The position of Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea is not a birthright, it is a position that is mandated by the people though their Parliament.
"It was in Parliament's considered view that Somare's lengthy absence of over eight months, without proper explanation or reason given to the Parliament, gave rise to a vacancy in the position.
"This led to the events of 2011 when the Parliament elected a new Prime Minister."
O'Neill said decisions of the court were noted by Parliament that acted within the law.
"The Parliament, at all times took note of the court's decisions, and has dealt with these decisions appropriately.
"Through Parliamentary process it was deemed that there was a vacancy, thereby allowing Parliament to conduct an election for the Prime Minister on each occasion.
"Parliament has dealt with this within its mandate and the decisions of Parliament are not subject to the Leadership Code.
"The people of this nation then went to the polls in 2012 where they elected our Government, and Somare must accept that the people made this decision through the ballot as part of our national democratic process.
"He needs to respect the decision of the people and stop being a spoiler for the country.
"If he thinks he has a case to present to the people, his opportunity will come again in 2017 within 20 months.
"We will see him at the polls and this is where the people will decide again who should lead the country for the next five years."
The Prime Minister said the State had been very generous towards Sir Michael Somare and it was time that he recognised the support that had been afforded to him.
"All entitlements have been fully paid including additional funds he received from the State. 
"The people of Papua New Guinea do not owe him anything further than what he has already received."

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Deputy PM Leo Dion addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA

Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion (left) and Foreign Affairs Minister Leo Dion at the United Nations
Deputy Prime Minister Chief Leo Dion led a Papua New Guinea delegation on behalf of the Prime Minister and the people of PNG to the 70th United Nations General Assembly Session at the United Nations Head quarter in New York, USA.
The PNG delegation comprised of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration and senior government officials from the Department of Prime Minister and NEC, Foreign Affairs, National Planning and Monitoring and officers from PNG's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and the Embassy in Washington DC.
Dion at the post-2015 summit addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the September 26,  2015, where world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to succeed the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by January 2018.
The gist of the Deputy Prime Minister's statement was on the National Government's initiatives to promote sustainable development in Papua New Guinea and issues on climate change, water, Health and Sanitation, Vision 2050, Long Term Development Plan and the National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development.
Dion said the drive by PNG to get international support on climate change also gained prominence when Pope Francis gave his speech on September 25, 2015.
"The Pope talked about the same thing that the Prime Minister  Peter O'Neill, has been emphasizing about on, climate change," he said.
Dion said climate change was a real issue that was affecting thousands of lives in PNF and in the Pacific region.
"PNG's contribution at the international level as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum was our leadership in securing consensus among PIF countries in proposing SDG 14, which is to conserve and use the oceans, seas and marine resources in a sustainable manner.
"Our leadership in proposing goal 14 underscores our commitment to ensure the international community recognizes the importance of protecting our pristine marine environment."
He said this also underscored the 46th Pacific Islands Forum's commitment to work together.
Dion went on to pledge PNG' support of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the country's commitment to achieving better results.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Endangered anteaters: Long-beaked echidnas successfully bred by conservationists

Sep 24, 2015 01:49 PM EDT

Long-Beaked Echidna
Long-beaked echidnas are threatened by habitat loss and hunters in New Guinea and Indonesia. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

Breeding efforts for the endangered short-beaked echidna, also known as the spiny anteater, are proving to be successful at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia. The University of Queensland (UQ) is working along side scientists at the nature preserve where they have birthed 14 new babies in captivity over the past five years.

"Up to a few years ago it was thought almost impossible to breed echidnas in captivity, and most births were somewhat accidental and unplanned," Stephen Johnston, an associate professor at UQ, said in a news release. "Now we can pretty much predict that, if we put A and B together and provide the right environmental conditions, a mating is likely to be successful."
The success of the short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) represents the highest number of spiny anteaters that any zoo has ever been able to breed. Now, it turns out that their relatives, the long-beaked echidnas (Zaglossus attenboroughi), may need help too.
Populations of long-beaked echidnas who live primarily in New Guinea and Indonesia, have declined drastically due to being hunted for food and loosing their natural habitats to land development. Echidnas are one of the only mammals that still lay eggs.
"We now have a better understanding of the echidna's temperature regulation requirements," Johnston added, "and we are seeking to identify what hormones are involved at different stages of the female breeding cycle."
The typical gestation period for female echidnas lasts 20 days. Then they lay their eggs directly into their temporary pouch that develops when they are pregnant. According to the release, the "puggles" hatch roughly 10 days later and stay in the pouch for two or three months, receiving all their nutrients from their mother's milk.

Echidna Puggle
Photo : University of Queensland )
An echidna puggle breed in captivity at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia.
"It's so important now we use what we have learned to make a real difference to conservation and the plight of the long-beaked echidna from Papua New Guinea," Michael Pyne, an official at the nature preserve, said. "Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is committed to conservation and research of our native wildlife and is proud to work closely with UQ in world-leading research such as this echidna project."
During this year's breeding season, five viable eggs have already been laid. 

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

Rare Australian dolphin found in PNG waters

Snubfin dolphin
Photo: Dr Isabel Beasley
New findings by a James Cook University researcher have confirmed that the recently discovered Australian snubfin dolphin is also found in waters off southern Papua New Guinea.

JCU’s Dr Isabel Beasley has been undertaking research on inshore dolphins in the Kikori Delta of southern Papua New Guinea since 2011, with funding from the PNG LNG Community Investment Program and the Australian Marine Mammal Centre.

It was previously thought that only Irrawaddy dolphins occurred in southern Papua New Guinea.

However, new research based on at-sea observations and genetic analysis has confirmed that the Kikori dolphins are a separate population of Australian snubfin dolphins, Orcaella heinsohni.

The snubfin is a small dolphin species previously thought to be restricted to northern Australian coastal waters.

As a result of the discovery, the ExxonMobil PNG-led, PNG LNG Project has announced a new scholarship program, where three students will receive JCU scholarships to study dolphins in Papua New Guinea, with a focus on Australian snubfin dolphins in the Kikori Delta.

The scholarships are called the 'PNG LNG - PIDU Research Scholarships', PIDU being the local name for dolphins in the Kikori Delta.

ExxonMobil PNG managing director, Andrew Barry said ExxonMobil PNG was committed to preserving Papua New Guinea’s unique environment and cultural heritage for future generations.

“Investing in the dolphin research complements the PNG LNG Project’s approach to the long-term conservation of the pristine environment in which we operate,” Mr Barry said.

“We are working with James Cook University and the University of Papua New Guinea to enhance the capacity of young Papua New Guineans to care for the very unique biodiversity of this country.”

UPNG has collaborated with the PIDU project since it began in 2011, with three UPNG students undertaking their 4th year research projects based on the study.

UPNG Registrar, Jennifer Popat said “The University of Papua New Guinea is proud to partner with James Cook University in the important marine research project. Without the PNG LNG Community Investment Program’s support for these Honours and Masters scholarships, the scientific knowledge concerning these species of dolphins would remain incomplete.”
The students will conduct projects in the Kikori Delta to further knowledge of this little known species, identify threats to the small remaining population, and work together with the local communities and fishers to develop strategies to mitigate threats, such as accidental bycatch in fisheries.

Dr Beasley said the Kikori Delta of southern PNG is the only location in the Pacific Islands and New Guinea where the Australian snubfin dolphin is currently known to occur.

“Conservation and management efforts are therefore imperative if the species is to survive in the region, where accidental bycatch and habitat degradation are threatening remaining populations throughout their range.”

Applications for the scholarships open on September 20, 2015 and successful candidates will be announced in early December 2015.

Oil Search signs statement of intent on next phases of Ramu Power Project

Oil Search on Wednesday signed a statement of intent with Government-owned PNG Power Ltd  (PPL) on the next phases of the Ramu Power Project (RPP).
This is further to the announcement on April 1of the commencement of continuous 24-hour power generation and supply to Tari, Hela.
The RPP is aimed at connecting up to one million people to a larger and improved electricity grid by 2030, through the provision of modular, low cost power supply.
Implementation agreements are planned to be developed with the PNG Government over the next few months to support the following projects:

  *Biomass Independent Power Producer (IPP). A 30 MW Biomass project in the Markham Valley, Morobe Province. This project is aimed at providing baseload power for the Lae region and will have
significant environmental, social and employment benefits. The development will be phased in two x 15 MW units, to match supply with demand.
*Highlands IPP. The construction of an initial 2 MW gas-fired power project, with potential to ramp up to 65 MW, located near Hides in the Hela Province. This project will source gas from the Hides gas field
and provide lower cost baseload and intermittent power primarily for households and social Infrastructure in the Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces.
*Hides to Tari Transmission Line. Installation of a 45 km transmission line from the Oil Search Hides Gas-to-Electricity Processing Plant to the Tari Power Station. The Hides – Tari transmission line is to be constructed, operated and maintained by PPL and PPL's selected third party.
*Highlands distribution and connections. Oil Search will assist PPL in designing a low cost rural connections rollout plan to households in the Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces.
*Early Power to Tari. Oil Search will extend the provision of diesel to PPL's power plant in Tari, which commenced in March 2015, until the earlier of completion of the Hides – Tari transmission line or the second quarter of 2016.
Peter Botten, Oil Search's Managing Director said: "Oil Search continues to work closely with the PNG Government to develop long-term solutions for PNG's power sector.
"With one of the world's lowest electricity connection rates, delivery of reliable, competitively-priced power is one of PNG's highest priorities and we are delighted that we can play our part in providing clean and sustainable biomass-fired and gas-fired power to the country.
"We have been exploring the potential for the Markham Valley Biomass project and cost-effective gas fired generation in the Highlands for a number of years and hope to sign Power Purchase Agreements for these projects, which have the   potential to make a real difference to people's lives, by the end of the year."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The transfer of coffee price from consumer to grower

Is the grower getting a fair price of the FOB or export price achieved by the registered exporters?
The world's commodity and finance markets are something of a mystery to most of us.
In our coffee industry here in Papua New Guinea,   few except those engaged in the export of coffee  have any real understanding of how the coffee market works.
Because of this, a decade ago, Coffee Industry Corporation  published and circulated widely  (40,000 copies mailed out in 2003) a booklet which explains how both the local and the overseas sectors of the coffee market work , how coffee is valued and priced, and how the trade is financed.
The booklet, which was published with the assistance of the European Union, was called STORI BILONG KOPI and was available, free, in English and Tok Pisin versions ( It is interesting to note in passing that NOT ONE acknowledgement or note of thanks, from the Members of the National Parliament, who all received a copy, or from the nations High Schools and Universities, which all received packages containing 20  copies, was  received by CIC).
Among a number of things, the booklet shows an interested grower how to calculate the value of his coffee at the factory door, using current factors available daily in both the national dailies and on the EMTV six-o'clock news.
The advent of cheap and widely-taken-up mobile phone services in more recent times has added another effective tool aiding the interested coffee-grower in his pricing and marketing activities.
Using this information and a pocket calculator an interested grower may work out values with which to compare offers he is made for his coffee.
This is quite a revolutionary turn of events for those who may take advantage of the information, for never before has a PNG-based grower or small businessman been equipped to gain such insights into the workings of the market.
In fact, the highly-competitive nature of PNGs internal market sees to it that the grower who is alive to tricks played by itinerant buyers and who brings his coffee to a place where competition between a number of buyers  is the rule may be assured of somewhere between 65-70% of ruling FOB at the time of sale.
At certain times and for short periods only, generally due to seasonal variances in supply and consequent shortages, up to 85% of FOB value has been  achieved.
This means that on average between 15% to maximum 30% of FOB value is shared by coffee-buyers, factories, transport companies and exporters in the process of drying, hulling, insuring, transporting, preparing for export and actually loading coffee aboard ships.
CIC's industry levy of 8 toea comes out of this also.
The balance, being between 70% and 85% of FOB ( export) price goes to the careful grower who picks the place where competition exists,  and the buyer who offers the best price, to whom he sells.
These figures compare well with others from around the world where open, competitive coffee industries exist, and where Government involvement or centralised marketing is non-existent. Where the latter conditions do exist growers typically  realise less for their coffee because of the cost of large and often inefficient and partisan bureaucracy which is  the middle-man in these markets.
A case close to home was the late   now reconstructed and renamed  PNG Copra Marketing Board -  which was a byword in PNG for its deplorable record in dealings with small growers..
In answer to the question at the head of this section - yes a PNG-based coffee grower not only has the opportunity to obtain a fair price for his coffee in the internal market, but also the means, if he wishes to employ it, to check that this is so, and to make his discontent known if it is not through his statutory entitlement to a voice via his local Small Growers Association - prior to the antidemocratic reduction of the growers power over his industry by the current cohort of Department of Agriculture and Livestock Minister and his friends and appointees.
As for the rest of the chain of transactions leading towards the consumer situated in a far-off land, does PNG's  share within the totality of the market including the consumer side stack up as being fair?
The answer is a resounding No! It does not!
The reasons for this are very complex. There are many influences at play.
Meaningful reform by any agency other than the passage of time and changing attitudes is unlikely, although a return of the USA to membership of the International Coffee Organisation has prompted a trend towards a more even balance in the market. Sudden rises resulting from unpredicted events and shortages, whilst rewarding in themselves do not alter retention as percentages by sector.
A more equitable share of total value of the trade for origins will be slow to come, incremental in nature, and will be propelled by efforts  by the growing countries, or origins, themselves.
Salesmanship  and value-based promotion as well as adherence to desired levels of intrinsic quality and blending –types made for individual buyers will help, but increments achieved will be slow even though ongoing once established.
Why is the coffee market so intractable insofar as the origins are concerned?
Firstly, out of the 50 or so countries which export coffee,  there are only three which have sufficient volume even to consider influencing the trade through unilateral decisions and actions.
Even so, the three giants achieve little and are subject to the same pressures, generally speaking, as the mass of small origins, of which PNG is one.
As a group, the origins are price-takers, whereas the other side of the market is dominated in great degree by six immensely powerful commercial entities.
These entities have achieved a degree of control over the price of raw coffee which seems unshakeable.
With the massive growth in buying-power of post-war societies in the developed world, systems of supply and delivery to the consumer have become increasingly  integrated.
This has allowed consolidation within markets as well as cross-border or multinational integration.
The driving objective is the creation of economies of scale leading to market domination.
The result has been the corporatization - as opposed to the globalisation - of trade across the world.
The two terms  corporatisation and globalisation  are  portrayed by some as being essentially the same thing.
They are not the same.
The basis for globalisation is that the benefits of international trade may be shared more evenly, whilst multinational corporatisation works to accrue benefits for tiny, very wealthy minorities at the cost of poorer, less-integrated and thus less powerful entities.
In the coffee industry, worldwide, we have a perfect example of the meaning of corporatisation.
The origins sell around 60% of production to six huge multinational roaster-marketer companies  proprietors of the best-selling brand-names in the industry.
These brands are consumed by a majority of coffee-drinkers across the world.
Thus it is that coffee-growers, and to a lesser degree coffee drinkers, are linked inseparably to the owners of these brands as much as a dog is linked to his owner by his lead or chain.
The relationship between dog and man  may also be seen as a parallel: a relationship where dependence and conditioning ensures obedience.
The observable effect in the case of the coffee industry is that the small people at each end of this multinational market support, to their cost, a highly-efficient accumulative process at its center.
Coffee-drinkers in developed countries rarely if ever see a reduction in the cost of the product they love, no matter what the state if the international coffee market.
And due to the domination of  the industry by the multis,  today's severely-impoverished coffee-grower has been slowly, incrementally, deprived of  some 75% of what he was accustomed to receive in value  20 years ago - years in which the multi phenomenon has  flourished, nurtured by the fashion for market forces theory among economists and political leaders. Fortunately,  this state-of-mind is becoming less common in the face of the realisation that ever-increasing consumption is neither inevitable nor desirable,  to say nothing of its sustainability.
Thirty years ago,  the grower's share of the wholesale value of a carton of roast and  ground coffee as sold in consuming countries stood at around  30%.
Today,  the grower receives only 10%, whilst the consumer still pays what he has always been accustomed to pay for his packet of product, increased by the effects of inflation over the period.
Where has the 20% of  retail ( packaged, roasted coffee) value which used to belong to the coffee-grower been moved to? Obviously the consumer has not benefited.
This portion of value has been moved into the sector dominated by the multi-national coffee marketing companies, whose lead is followed by all coffee processors, large and small, in consuming countries.
These entities are making what economists term as  super-normal profits, and this situation, being intractable from the position of a single country of origin, or growing country, remains to be addressed.
As already stated above, salesmanship  and value-based promotion as well as adherence to desired levels of intrinsic quality and blending types made for individual buyers will help, but increments achieved will be slow even though ongoing once established.
This is the truth for coffee-growers around the world, just as it is for wheat, rice, sugar,tea, and cocoa growers- all producers of raw materials transformed in large quantity by huge, multinational brand-owners into retail products for markets the brand-owners have themselves created.
A truth which is part of the experience of farmers of edible commodities the world around.
First written and published in February 2008 and now ( 2014) updated in response to widespread fears that PNG's established internal and export marketing system is about to be trashed in an uninformed and naive experiment initiated by the DAL Ministry.
The new, small co-operative coffee exporters being created will be, to coin a familiar phrase, the blind, led by the blind. There is no-one in the service of the National Government, it seems, who is knowledgeable enough, or possessed of enough basic commonsense, to understand just how foolish, even childish ( big boys with big toys in a very big sandpit) this move is.
To say nothing of the predictable and conflict-producing outcome.
It should be noted that I have not touched upon the subject of seasonal finance.
It is well-known that PNG's banks are not willing to finance coffee export  or coffee processing ventures.
The whole great turnover of some 420,000 tonnes of hand-picked coffee berries ( cherry)  into some 60,000 tonnes of ready-to-roast dry green coffee-beans loaded and ready to leave Lae on a ship bound for an overseas destination is born along on a vast cash-float that is in the form of many foreign-currency advances-on-stock-to-be-shipped obtained UNDER ESTABLISHED TRUST AND RELATIONSHIPS as effective unsecured loans.
Now, how about that, Mr Minister?
No matter what vast cash resources are due to pour into Government coffers,  the coffee-grower of PNG is not going to believe that  ol Gaman ol bai fainensim olgeta kopi em kamap lo han blo mipla ya, em bai gutpla wei na bai ron stret tasol, nogat wari, nogat hevi ya.
©J.P.Fowke 2014
Not to be copied transmitted or used in any way without the permission of the author