Business, resources & economy Feed

Neo-colonialism: It’s not personal; it’s just business


ADELAIDE - The sanctions imposed upon Iran by the USA are causing a huge amount of damage to that country’s economy.

The people of Iran, as distinct from the ruling regime, are suffering a great deal as a consequence.

What surprised me was that an apparently quite closed and tightly controlled economy like Iran’s was so susceptible to the influence of the US government’s edicts.

Continue reading "Neo-colonialism: It’s not personal; it’s just business" »

PNG in 'economic hole' says new treasurer

Ian Ling-Stuckey
 Ian Ling-Stuckey - "The PNG  economy has been struggling and bleeding. Budget prospects for 2019 are extremely difficult. There is bad news coming"

NEWS DESK | Radio New Zealand | Edited

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea is in an "increasingly fragile fiscal position" and an "economic hole", according to PNG's new Treasury Minister Ian Ling-Stuckey.

The precarious situation was revealed by a check of the government's finances by treasury and economic officials.

Continue reading "PNG in 'economic hole' says new treasurer" »

Did 'presource curse' just deliver a pile of dung?

Continue reading "Did 'presource curse' just deliver a pile of dung?" »

Malaysian companies exploit oil palm workers

Children on oil palm estate
Children on an oil palm estate - life in camps with no schools and their birthright disappearing

NEWS DESK | Sarawak Report | Edited extract

SARAWAK, MALAYSIA - Dayak landowners of Sarawak will take no pleasure, but experience little surprise, in hearing how the people of Papua New Guinea have been ill-treated by logging and oil palm plantation conglomerates based in East Malaysia.

These are companies who first robbed Sarawakians of their land rights before extending operations into virtually all the remaining timber reserves on the planet.

Continue reading "Malaysian companies exploit oil palm workers" »

Date set for UBS loan inquiry; Australian judge will assist

John Gilmour
John Gilmour - Scottish-born Australian former judge and expert in commercial law will join Sir Salamo Injia in UBS-Oil Search inquiry


SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea will start preliminary hearings on Thursday 19 September into the terms of a K2.8 billion loan from Swiss bank UBS used for an ill-fated government investment in the gas sector, the inquiry’s chairman said on Monday.

The timetable and terms of reference, released for the first time, also include a focus on how the UBS loan used to buy a government stake in PNG-focused energy firm Oil Search was obtained, whether it resembled previous loans, and whether the government broke its own rules in taking out the loan.

Chairman Salamo Injia, a former chief justice, said in a statement that retired Australian judge John Gilmour would also join the inquiry as a second commissioner.

“The appointments of [an] overseas commissioner and counsel were necessary given the international dimensions of the UBS transactions,” Salamo said.

Continue reading "Date set for UBS loan inquiry; Australian judge will assist" »

Can two of PNG's most depressed regions converge & prosper?

Fly River port  Kiunga  Western Province (Adrian Mathias)
Western District's upriver port on the Fly River at Kiunga - what happens when the copper, gold and silver run out?


PORT MORESBY – On the first Thursday in June, soon after Oil Search chief executive Peter Botten addressed the 244th Sydney Mining Club forum over luncheon in Australia, a mother and her two sons drowned in the remote South Fly District of Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.

The tragedy which took the lives of the mother and her child and an infant occurred after a boat they were travelling in with relatives capsized in rough waters at the mouth of the Karu River. They left behind the father, a Port Moresby-based police officer, and three older siblings.

The family travelling in the ill-fated boat was on its way to the village of Sepe on the West Kiwai coast, escorting for burial the body of a deceased police officer from Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Can two of PNG's most depressed regions converge & prosper?" »

Buin-born mining veteran David Osikore joins BCL board

David Osikore (second right) briefs colleagues about the Wafi gold deposit south of Lae (Mike Porter)
David Osikore (second right) briefs colleagues on the Wafi gold deposit near Lae (Mike Porter)


PORT MORESBY – Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has announced the appointment of David Osikore to the company’s board of directors.

Osikore, 57, was born in Buin and has spent 30 years in the exploration and mining industries in Papua New Guinea and Australia.

His career began with the PNG Department of Mines and has since traversed roles ranging from exploration geologist to managing director. He is currently also on the board of Pacific Niugini Minerals PNG.

Osikore nominates his involvement with the prefeasibility study associated with PNG’s Hidden Valley and Hamata gold projects among his career highlights.

BCL chairman Sir Mel Togolo said Osikore was well-respected and brought invaluable industry experience and a keen local perspective to the board.

“We are delighted that David has agreed to join given his breadth of experience, technical expertise and the industry knowledge he has garnered having worked for three decades in PNG, Bougainville and abroad on various gold, silver and copper mining projects,” Togolo said.

Without major reform, foreign loans won’t rescue PNG economy

Stephen Howes
Stephen Howes - Will yesterday's joint ministerial forum reveal detail of required economic reform in PNG?

STEPHEN HOWES | DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Media reporting of Papua New Guinea’s efforts to access foreign loans to finance the government’s budget has been far from accurate or complete.

But the efforts themselves are real. And they pose significant challenges for both the country’s suitors, China and Australia, and most importantly for PNG itself.

As reported in official PNG documents, PNG has been trying to obtain a loan from China since last year. The government is seeking K1 billion from China’s National Development Bank.

In principle agreement was reached at APEC last year, but the deal is still not yet done. The sticking points are the interest rate, and that China normally lends for projects, whereas PNG wants the money not be earmarked.

It needs the loan to pay salary bills and interest. Given the length of time the negotiations have taken, it is not clear when or indeed if China will come to PNG’s aid.

It’s not that China never provides non-earmarked budget support, but it is certainly the exception rather than the rule. Given the difficulties PNG is experiencing in obtaining K1 billion from China, talk of China refinancing PNG’s K27 billion of government debt is fanciful.

Continue reading "Without major reform, foreign loans won’t rescue PNG economy" »

Finschhafen mission prepares for modern communications

Logaweng telecoms tower
Logaweng telecommunications tower


LAE - It all started with a phone call from my superior the Thursday before last during a critical peak in my work at Nadzab airport.

“You’re assigned on a technical mission to do a site survey at Finschhafen tomorrow,” my superior said.

“You and Robert Waninara will be representing Bmobile and other state-owned ICT entities will be sending their reps with the media team.”

The mission was assigned by Papua New Guinea’s communications minister and MP for Finschaffen, Rainbo Paita.

I felt excited and a bit nervous as it would be my first experience of this kind. So I completed my work at Nadzab and got myself ready for Finschaffen.

I had only heard stories of this historic town. When Johann Flierl came to PNG in 1886 as the first Lutheran missionary, he set foot at Simbai at the mouth of Mape River (Bubui) in the Finschhaffen area.

Our telecommunications tower is located on Logaweng hill looking down on Gagidu station near where the Logaweng Lutheran Seminary was established in 1907.

Continue reading "Finschhafen mission prepares for modern communications" »

Joint Venture pressures PNG by setting deadline for LNG project

James Marape - unsure about the benefits locals will see from a multi-billion-dollar LNG project


SYDNEY - Oil Search has accused Papua New Guinea of backtracking on a deal to build a new liquefied natural gas project and set a 31 August deadline to resolve the dispute.

Oil Search is working in partnership with France's Total and US-based ExxonMobil on the US$13 billion site that would roughly double Papua New Guinea's exports of LNG.

The deal was signed in April, but since coming to office in May PNG's prime minister James Marape has raised concerns that locals will not receive enough benefit from the project.

"While initially indicating that the government had decided, in principle, to stand behind the agreement, more recently it has signalled its desire to renegotiate some of the agreed terms," Oil Search said.

Continue reading "Joint Venture pressures PNG by setting deadline for LNG project" »

Chinese counterfeits are killing PNG’s embryonic fashion industry

James Marape and Annette Sete
James Marape and Annette Sete

ANNETTE SETE | My Land, My Country

LAE - Papua New Guineans in the creative industries will never win against cheap Chinese copies unless and until the Papua New Guinea government tightens up on some of the laws safeguarding our businesses.

Chinese imitations of local designs and fake or counterfeit products will continue to flood our markets.

This past week my total of Chinese copies reached eight. Six of those we attempted to fight against, but high legal costs meant we can’t afford to do it all.

I read with interest and frustration as Papua New Guineans call for protection of our rights.

Continue reading "Chinese counterfeits are killing PNG’s embryonic fashion industry" »

Was UBS loan corrupt? Many questions to be answered: Marape

LISA MURRAY, ANGUS GRIGG & JONATHAN SHAPIRO | Australian Financial Review | Extracts

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea's new government has appointed a former chief justice and an anti-corruption crusader to lead a three-month inquiry into the UBS loan affair, which is expected to renew focus on the investment bank's role in the controversial deal.

Prime Minister James Marape announced on Friday the inquiry would investigate whether any laws were broken when the Sydney office of UBS lent $1.2 billion to the PNG government in 2014 to buy a 10% stake in ASX-listed Oil Search.

The commission of inquiry will also look into whether there was any corruption or impropriety.

PNG PM James Marape says there are many questions that need to be answered.

Former chief justice Sir Salamo Injia has been appointed commissioner and Sam Koim, who headed the disbanded Taskforce Sweep that looked into allegations of corruption involving former prime minister Peter O'Neill, was announced as counsel assisting.

Continue reading "Was UBS loan corrupt? Many questions to be answered: Marape" »

PNG turns to China for help with tuna processing investment

MARK GODFREY | Seafood Source

SAN DIEGO - USA - A Chinese fishing firm is edging towards a deal to allow it access to the waters off Papua New Guinea with six large fishing vessels.

The fleet is set to sail after a team of eight officials from PNG visited the company at its home port in Zhejiang Province.

The officials inspected safety and tracking devices aboard six vessels of the Wenzhou Da Zhou Distant Water Fishing Co.

They were accompanied by company executives and officials from local government in Dontou County, near the city of Wenzhou, a major export-focused manufacturing hub.

Entering PNG would represent the “most cherished wish” of his company, Wenzhou Da Zhou general manager Yang Jin Ying told the press after the inspections.

Continue reading "PNG turns to China for help with tuna processing investment" »

Mobile phones have seen rapid rise in off-grid solar in PNG

LISA CORNISH | Devex | Extract

CANBERRA — The use of off-grid solar products has skyrocketed over the past five years in Papua New Guinea, with 60% of households now using solar lighting — up sharply from just 2% in 2012, according to a new report by the International Finance Corporation.

As a result, PNG now has one of the highest rates of use of off-grid solar lighting in the developing world, according to the report ‘Going the Distance: Off-Grid Lighting Market Dynamics in PNG’.

Part of this is due to the fact that 87% of the population — or 7.2 million people — are not connected to the electricity grid.

But the increased use of mobile technology has also played a major role. The report showed the transition happened at a time when mobile phone penetration was growing rapidly, but the means to charge phones was lagging.

Continue reading "Mobile phones have seen rapid rise in off-grid solar in PNG" »

Papua New Guinea backtracks on China debt refinancing


SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape has backtracked on an announcement saying he had asked China to refinance the country’s $8 billion debt, insisting the statement was released without his knowledge.

A statement from his office on Tuesday said Marape had asked China’s ambassador for help in refinancing the country’s K27 billion public debt during a meeting in Port Moresby.

But on Wednesday afternoon, Marape’s office released a new statement saying it was “false” that he was “going one way to China” to tackle the country’s debt.

He said PNG was primarily discussing trade with China while examining debt options with undisclosed “non-traditional partners.”

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea backtracks on China debt refinancing" »

Multibillion debt request to China “took Australia by surprise”

KATE LYONS | The Guardian | Extracts

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape has dealt a blow to Australian diplomacy by asking China to refinance his country’s debt.

The request marks a “significant shift” in regional politics and PNG’s allegiances, according to Pacific experts.

Australia has traditionally been the largest aid donor and most important ally of PNG, but in recent years ties between China and PNG have strengthened.

PNG’s prime minister, James Marape, visited Australia two weeks ago at the invitation of his counterpart, Scott Morrison, in his first international visit since becoming the Pacific nation’s leader at the end of May.

Continue reading "Multibillion debt request to China “took Australia by surprise”" »

PNG request to China to refinance K27bn debt will rile Oz


PORT MORESBY- Papua New Guinea has asked Beijing to refinance its K27 billion debt, in a request likely to rile Australia and the United States as they try to maintain their influence in the Pacific in the face of a rising China.

Beijing has been strengthening ties with PNG and other Pacific nations by increasing engagement and offering loans for infrastructure, prompting both the US and Australia to launch their own charm offensives in the region to keep traditional allies on side.

Less than two weeks after traveling to Australia on his first trip abroad as leader, PNG prime minister James Marape announced on Tuesday that he had asked China’s ambassador for help in refinancing the country’s K27billion public debt during a meeting in Port Moresby.

“He stated that a formal letter would be forwarded to the ambassador to convey to Beijing on this request,” Marape’s office said in a statement.

Continue reading "PNG request to China to refinance K27bn debt will rile Oz" »

Marape asks China to elevate its trade partnership with PNG

NEWS DESK | PNG Today | Edited

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape has requested that China enter a free trade arrangement (FTA) with PNG and Pacific Island countries to boost the economy of the region.

Marape made these request at a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to PNG, Xue Bing, saying he was mindful that a similar arrangement with Australia and New Zealand was under review to ensure it seeks tangible outcomes.

The meeting agenda included PNG refinancing its K27 billion debt with China, the upcoming Third China-Pacific Islands economic cooperation forum to be held in Samoa in October, and forthcoming Pacific Islands Forum meetings to be held in Tuvalu this month.

“I also suggested for Chinese investment in the Agriculture and Fisheries sector, and in particularly establishing down streaming processing plants for products in forestry, fisheries, mining and petroleum, and general food production and supply in PNG,” Marape said.

Bing raised concerns with forum hosted by Tuvalu which has diplomatic relations with Taiwan and urged PNG to support China to allow it to speak at the forum meeting at which China wants to deliver a statement on strengthening relations in the region.

Marape maintains that all nations are sovereign states and that each forum member is entitled to decide on who its external partners are.

He said PNG’s One China Policy has always been the cornerstone of relations with China. Given this and favourable relations with China, PNG will support China on regional issues of mutual importance.

Bing briefed Marape on China’s investments in PNG and said they were much less compared with PNG’s other development partners. China’s two major projects are Ramu Nickel and the Porgera gold mine.

The two men also exchanged views on global food security and discussed entering an agricultural cooperation arrangement to supply PNG organic food and vegetables to the Chinese market and entering an agreement for Chinese Investors to build fisheries processing plants in PNG.

Bing invited Marape to China to “consolidate” agreement on key issues including air services, tourism, mining, petroleum, electricity, roads, ports, education, the Chinese language curriculum to be introduced in schools, and encouraging business investment from China.

Marape said all business investors and other officials traveling to PNG would be facilitated by the PNG Embassy in Beijing so meetings with senior government officials and ministers are properly coordinated.

Oil Search is 'encouraged' as PNG signals support for gas deal


SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea has signalled it will back a previously agreed multibillion dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal involving Australia's Oil Search, although it said that some terms still need negotiating.

The deal, for a project called Papua LNG, was agreed in April. However it was put up for review after the prime minister who signed it was ousted in a parliamentary vote in May, following a political crisis caused by discontent over the distribution of resource riches.

Oil Search CEO Peter Botten said the company was "encouraged" by the PNG petroleum minister's statement.

Papua LNG, which is a joint venture between French oil major Total, Exxon Mobil Corp and Oil Search, is part of a $A19 billion project to develop gas fields off PNG's shores and double the country's exports of LNG.

Continue reading "Oil Search is 'encouraged' as PNG signals support for gas deal" »

PNG: Look to agriculture not minerals to strengthen economy

AgricCALUM RUTTER | Public Finance International

LONDON, UK - Papua New Guinea should look to agriculture to strengthen growth as the economy recovers from a series of external shocks, the World Bank has said.

Structural transformation was needed in the country to bring about the inclusive and sustainable development that would enable its economy to become more resilient, the bank suggested in a report.

Real GDP growth in Papua New Guinea dropped gradually from 13.5% in 2014 to -0.5% in 2018.

During this time there was a commodity price shock, a particularly warm El Niño climate cycle and a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hampered the economy, the World Bank pointed out in the report, released on Friday last week.

Continue reading "PNG: Look to agriculture not minerals to strengthen economy" »

Agriculture in PNG: A significant opportunity & significant peril

AgricMERVYN PIESSE | Global Food and Water Crises Research Program | Future Directions International

NEDLANDS, WA - Papua New Guinea is a predominantly rural society that relies on subsistence agriculture.

Its prime minister, James Marape, has stated that he wants to diversify the economy, away from its dependence on oil and gas and increase the export of agricultural goods.

While agriculture is a significant part of the PNG economy, its agricultural exports are almost entirely limited to coffee, palm oil and copra.

Although it is possible that PNG will be able to expand the supply of those commodities, the development of other food products, such as rice or other cereals, will likely be difficult.

Continue reading "Agriculture in PNG: A significant opportunity & significant peril" »

Want to invest in PNG? You'll need a lazy K10 million

James Marape - Papua New Guinea only wants 'serious investors' 


PORT MORESBY - People who intend to set up business in Papua New Guinea must be serious and meet set requirements.

Prime minister James Marape says one of these is that an intending business must open a bank account in PNG with a minimum K10 million deposit.

“Investors must have serious money – a minimum of K10 million to be deposited in a facility with the Central Bank to show you are serious,” said Marape.

The prime minister says he made clear during his recent visit to Australia that this will be PNG’s investment approach.

Marape saids he remains confident in continued reciprocated business investment with Australia.

He thanked the 5,000 plus existing Australian businesses which continue to invest in PNG.

Did police mobile squad’s decline contribute to Hela killings?

The police mobile squad's effectiveness is argued to have been compromised by LNG camp security duties


RICHMOND, TAS - Prior to the commencement of the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (PNG LNG) project, the Police Mobile Squad was an extremely feared entity in the Southern Highlands and later Hela Province.

Their Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary’s mobile squad had a modus operandi that at times was brutal – including rape, destruction of crops and livestock and burning of houses.

However, they did stop the fighting and brought most of the criminals to heel.

The very threat of their deployment made clans think twice about fighting and payback. Not only would compensation have to be paid between warring clans, but the mobile squad’s collateral damage usually had to be compensated for as well by the fight ‘owners’.

Early in the construction phase of PNG LNG there was a fight going on adjacent to one of the camps and some of the combatants jumped the perimeter fence when they saw a couple of people from another clan working in the camp.

Continue reading "Did police mobile squad’s decline contribute to Hela killings?" »

Corrupted real estate industry needs to be regulated

Lae rentalSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE –Real estate companies don’t want to reduce their prices.  It’s an ugly fact of life in Papua New Guinea.

If you ask real estate companies if there should be regulations, they will tell you something to the effect that it is a ‘self-regulating’ industry and that government should not interfere with that ‘self regulation.’

As long as there is demand, real estate companies have no problem keeping the prices high.

The prices are out of reach for ordinary Papua New Guineans and still expensive for others who may be sharing rental costs with their partners or other family members.

In housing, you need economies  of scale.  That is where the National Housing Corporation comes in.

Continue reading "Corrupted real estate industry needs to be regulated" »

The appeal of the regions & the richness of being poor

Phil Fitz
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Generation after generation have stayed in the towns until it has become impossible to escape"


TUMBY BAY - It’s estimated that about 80% of the people in Papua New Guinea are subsistence farmers.

A subsistence farmer is by definition someone who only produces enough to satisfy their basic or primary needs.

It is unclear who actually made the above estimate and what definition of subsistence they used.

As economic anthropologists have shown there is no such thing as a true subsistence economy because in every type of economic system there is nearly always surplus production.

In PNG’s old days this surplus was used in ritual or prestige consumption, communal use or for exchange.

In modern PNG the surplus has become part of what is known as the informal economy, much of it in the hands of women.

Continue reading "The appeal of the regions & the richness of being poor" »

Marape tells Oil Search PNG wants ‘greater participation’

Oil SearchNEWS DESK | Reuters | Edited extracts

MELBOURNE - Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister James Marape has used Oil Search Ltd’s 90th birthday to press the country’s biggest company and its oil major partners to pay more tax.

His comments come as Oil Search and partners Exxon Mobil Corp and Total SA face delays on a $13 billion plan to double liquefied natural gas exports from Papua New Guinea and the new Marape government seeks to win more revenue from resource projects.

Oil Search has long prided itself on the work it does in PNG communities, including funding health care and literacy programs, but Marape said that was not the company’s job.

Continue reading "Marape tells Oil Search PNG wants ‘greater participation’" »

Marape government to rule soon on K47 billion gas deal

Kerenga Kua (2)
Kerenga Kua - wants to create fairness for both resource investors and Papua New Guineans

LISA MURRAY & ANGUS GRIGG | The Australian Financial Review

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea's new government will make a decision within weeks on whether to amend a multibillion-dollar gas agreement involving Oil Search, according to the country's Petroleum Minister Kerenga Kua.

In his first interview with the foreign media since being appointed to the key ministry last month, Mr Kua said the government's internal review of the Papua LNG agreement –a project that is being led by France's Total and also involves ExxonMobil – will be completed within two to three weeks.

Uncertainty about the project has been weighing on the Oil Search share price, which has fallen almost 15% since late April, when former prime minister Peter O'Neill came under mounting pressure to step down.

His replacement, James Marape, and Mr Kua had both been critical of the Papua LNG project leading up to the change of government. Together with the PNG LNG Project, it forms part of a K47 billion liquefied natural gas expansion in the Pacific nation.

Mr Kua told The Australian Financial Review the internal inquiry into the Papua LNG project was focusing on two areas.

Continue reading "Marape government to rule soon on K47 billion gas deal" »

Take back PNGSDP’s emperor clothes for PNG & Western Province

Community leaders sign the Community Mine Continuation Agreement  giving up rights to claim compensation from Ok Tedi Mining
Community leaders sign an agreement giving up their rights to claim compensation from Ok Tedi Mining

MARTYN NAMORONG | Namorong Report

PORT MORESBY - Treasurer Sam Basil’s recent economic update has highlighted serious cash flow issues for the Papua New Guinea government as it struggles to deliver the 2019 budget.

As Basil himself highlighted, the collection of corporate income tax, goods and services tax and departmental fees are all below target.

Prime minister James Marape recognises the dire predicament his government faces and so it was unsurprising that his first overseas trip was to Singapore to meet with the Board of the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP).

PNGSDP is an independent entity, a status clarified by a recent ruling by the courts in Singapore.

Continue reading "Take back PNGSDP’s emperor clothes for PNG & Western Province" »

As PNG budget staggers, Sir Mek says Treasury has no answers

Mekere Morauta (2)
Sir Mekere Morauta - "This year's PNG budget is way off mark, bordering on useless”


PORT MORESBY – Sir Mekere Morauta has said “very loud alarm bells” should be ringing in the Papua New Guinea government’s ears after the treasurer Charles Abel and finance minister gave widely variant versions of the country’s revenue shortfall so far this year.

Treasurer Sam Basil had said the government was “slightly behind on revenue” after the first five months, at K974 million – or 19% - less than budgeted, while a few days later finance minister Charles Abel said revenue was down by K2 billion.

“Who is right?” Sir Mekere asked, adding, “And whether the revenue shortfall is K974 million or K2 billion, neither figure is ‘slight’.”

Speaking in parliament this week, the former prime minister said the shortfall indicated that the budget was “way off mark, bordering on useless”.

He said the economy was stuck “in a recessionary gear” with GST and corporate, mining and petroleum taxes all down.

Continue reading "As PNG budget staggers, Sir Mek says Treasury has no answers" »

UBS loan was a crap deal – except perhaps for the facilitators

B&w Overland
Chris Overland - "Politicians are generally crap at making business decisions; PNG has lost money it should never have lost"


ADELAIDE – The UBS bank of Switzerland has pointed out that the multi-billion kina loan to the Papua New Guinea government to buy Oil Search shares was made according to relevant laws and in conformance with normal business and banking practice.

To the best of my knowledge, no-one is accusing UBS of acting unlawfully (at least, not yet).

The real point at issue here is that UBS essentially facilitated a K4 billion bet by the O'Neill government that the price of oil and gas and hence the value of its investment, would go up not down.

At that time, I - and many other critics of the decision to buy shares in Oil Search using public funds - pointed out that the price of oil and gas was at historic highs and thus inflating the price of the shares being purchased to a level that did not reflect their underlying long term value.

We also pointed out that the downside risks of such a manifestly speculative investment in the volatile energy market were very high, so the likelihood of PNG losing a lot of money was also very high.

Now, six years later, the critics have been proved correct and PNG has lost money that it should never have lost.

Continue reading "UBS loan was a crap deal – except perhaps for the facilitators" »

Resources industry & leadership change in PNG: some insights

Sarah Kuman
Sarah Kuman is a partner with Allens Lawyers specialising in corporate and commercial advice and natural resources law


PORT MORESBY - James Marape's ascension to the Prime Ministership of Papua New Guinea brings potential changes to regulation of the resources industry.

We examine his new-look cabinet and some of the more recent ministerial comments regarding both region-specific projects and the resources industry more generally.

On 30 May 2019, James Marape became Papua New Guinea's new prime minister, following the departure of former prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Mr Marape has since foreshadowed potential changes to the regulation of resource projects in the medium term, while at the same time reassuring those with existing investments in the country.

Mr Marape was previously Mr O'Neill's minister for finance, but resigned in early April, triggering a series of defections which ultimately led to Mr O'Neill's resignation.

In resigning, Mr Marape cited policy differences with Mr O'Neill, including in respect of local business participation in resource projects and amendment to resource laws. His resignation came two days after execution of the project agreement for a significant new LNG project for the country.

Continue reading "Resources industry & leadership change in PNG: some insights" »

Croton’s street mechanics: Relief for POM’s struggling motorists

Street mechanic 2BUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO | PNG Informal Economist

PORT MORESBY - If you are a motorist who regularly drives around Port Moresby city chances are you’ve come across a band of youths plying their specialised trades along Croton Street.

At first they may raise suspicion among drivers and passers-by because of the way they’re dressed and how they conduct themselves.

However more careful observation reveals these youths are on to something.

They provide an affordable alternative automotive service to struggling vehicle owners who can’t afford vehicle servicing by recognised automotive workshops like Ela Motors and Boroko Motors.

Continue reading "Croton’s street mechanics: Relief for POM’s struggling motorists" »

UBS bank rejects concern about its K4 billion loan to PNG


ZURICH - UBS Group AG, Switzerland's largest bank, has commented on the K4 billion loan granted to Papua New Guinea that contributed to political upheaval still resonating today.

The multinational investment bank and financial services company has a presence in all major financial centres has issued a brief statement outlining its view of the case.

Five years ago, UBS granted a loan worth US$1.2 billion (K4 billion) to PNG, which used the money to buy a stake in petroleum company Oil Search.

The deal went wrong as the oil price fell, forcing the PNG government to sell the shareholding at a loss.

Continue reading "UBS bank rejects concern about its K4 billion loan to PNG" »

Japan, US & Australia K3.4 billion loan for LNG project

Aus_USA_JapHISAO KODACHI | Nikkei Asian Review writer

TOKYO -- Japan, the US and Australia have picked a liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea as their first case for joint financing in the Indo-Pacific region, planning to lend over K3.4 billion, Nikkei has learned.

Three government-backed lenders -- Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the US Overseas Private Investment Corp and Australia's Export Finance and Insurance Corp -- issued a statement yesterday regarding their joint infrastructure efforts.

The three countries agreed in November to join hands in financing infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific to offer an alternative to China's Belt and Road initiative. The LNG project in Papua New Guinea marks the first project in this three-way cooperation.

Continue reading "Japan, US & Australia K3.4 billion loan for LNG project" »

Can PNG become the world’s richest black nation in 10 years?

Laveil Table 1
Table: Richest black, Christian countries based on real GDP per capita

MAHOLOPA LAVEIL | Devpolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea recently underwent a change in leadership, which saw the incumbent prime minister resign prior to a prime ministerial election on the floor of parliament.

James Marape was elected PNG’s eighth prime minister on 30 May 2019 with an overwhelming majority. Some 101 parliamentary members voted for Mr Marape, with seven voting for the other nominee, Sir Mekere Morauta.

That same evening Mr Marape addressed the country on one of its free-to-air television stations, EMTV, and later on social media. Amid thanking the former government and assuring the country it was in safe hands, Mr Marape announced that he aspired to make PNG the “richest black Christian nation on planet earth” within 10 years.

Continue reading "Can PNG become the world’s richest black nation in 10 years?" »

Can the Marape government reverse PNG’s ‘resource curse’

Paul Flanagan
Paul Flanagan - PNG industry was 20% worse off in 2016 than if it had continued ‘business as usual’ growth prior to the LNG project

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited

Link here to the full version of Paul Flanagan’s latest article

CANBERRA – Last year Dr Luke Fletcher and I co-authored a report comparing the projected economic benefits of the PNG LNG project with its actual outcomes.

So, more than a year later, do the controversial conclusions of ‘Double or Nothing: The Broken Economic Promises of the PNG LNG Project’ still hold true?

The broad answer is ‘yes’ – indeed the report’s conclusions have been reinforced by recent economic data.

Fortunately, PNG’s new Marape-Steven government is seeking better terms for future projects.

It is too early to tell whether the new government will make the important and politically difficult policy changes required to reverse the ‘resource curse’ approaches of the O’Neill government.

Recent PNG National Statistics Office figures confirmed that the PNG Treasury was over-estimating the health of the PNG economy in 2016.

Continue reading "Can the Marape government reverse PNG’s ‘resource curse’" »

What do we mean by owning our economy?

Martyn Namorong - "As I reflect on our leaders' messages, I look through the frame of Melanesian egalitarianism not western nationalism"


PORT MORESBY – Late last week Papua New Guinea heard great fiery statements from prime minister James Marape and Oro governor Gary Juffa about Taking Back PNG and owning our economy.

Both gentlemen seemed to signal the nation’s shift towards ‘resource nationalism’ — or at least that’s how western media has interpreted their Tok Pisin which was spoken in plain English.

Both parliamentarians reflected a public sentiment regarding economic independence that has lingered for decades amongst many Papua New Guineans.

As a left leaning writer and communicator, I found myself awkwardly worrying about how their words might affect foreign direct investment.

I mean, why should I worry about those foreign capitalists that have a history of exploiting my country?

But I also felt challenged as a Papua New Guinean writer to help my two compatriots communicate their message.

My perception of what was said is a call to Take Back PNG through our Papua New Guinean ways ( the fifth of our national goals) in order to achieve the third national goal and directive principle which calls for both political and economic independence.

Continue reading "What do we mean by owning our economy?" »

Don't believe the spin, our small businesses can do it

Corney Korokan Alone
Corney Alone - "Are our sons and daughters not fit to sit in the same lecture rooms of foreign direct investors' children to learn the fundamentals of business?”


PORT MORESBY – In an early statement, newly elected prime minister James Marape has pointedly emphasised a new policy orientation for small to medium sized enterprises (SME) whereby government contracts worth K10 million will be reserved for PNG-owned companies.

The discussion that follows is a contribution towards shaping that policy debate.

It is a fact that there are government subsidies and protectionism in all economies of the world.

The United States government grants subsidies and tax exemptions to most of their conglomerates in nearly every industry. This is done deliberately through the federal budget.

Australia is no exception, especially in its agri-industry sector. It has a Foreign Investment Review Board that plays the gatekeeping role, filtering what investment to allow and what to decline and operating in lock-step with Australia’s meticulous immigration and foreign visa policies.

The policies may have a different names and acronyms to deceive public perception, but when you flip the pages you’ll find the DNA of protectionism plastered all over the place.

Continue reading "Don't believe the spin, our small businesses can do it" »

Marape questions PNG’s resource exploitation deals

James Marape being sworn in as new prime minister on Thursday (AFP/Vanessa Kerton)

NEWS DESK | AFP | Extract

PORT MORESBY - Former Papua New Guinea finance minister James Marape, elected as prime minister on Thursday, has immediately issued a nationalistic address that puts foreign resource companies on notice.

Marape threatened foreign logging companies and vowed to tweak resource laws that underpin a recently inked $13 billion gas deal with Total and ExxonMobil.

Hours after being elected, Marape told parliamentarians he does "not intend to chase away our investors" but insisted "our resource laws are outdated," a clear reference to the huge LNG project.

"Who says one conglomerate from outside will come and tell me I can change the law for my country?" he asked.

"I have every right to tweak and turn resource laws for my country," he said. "We will look into maximising gain from what God has given this country from all natural resources."

Continue reading "Marape questions PNG’s resource exploitation deals" »

Political disarray in PNG rocks Oil Search shares

Oil Search
Analysts play down any threat that the PNG opposition will seek to renegotiate the LNG agreement if it took over from O'Neill government


SYDNEY/MELBOURNE - Political turmoil in Papua New Guinea threatens to delay a $13 billion plan to double the country’s gas exports, sending shares in one of the project’s partners, Oil Search Ltd, down nearly 4% on Monday.

PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill said on Sunday he would resign after weeks of high-level defections from the ruling party. Sir Julius Chan, twice a former premier, would take over as the government’s leader, O’Neill said.

Political instability is not unusual in PNG and has not held back mining and energy investments in the resource-rich country, however protests over benefits failing to reach rural areas have dogged the government and project owners.

It was not clear whether Chan could command a majority in parliament when it resumes on Tuesday.

“We will not choose him. It’s a really bad choice,” opposition lawmaker Allan Bird told Reuters in a text message.

“We want a complete break from O’Neill (and) Chan is just a proxy for O’Neill,” he said.

Continue reading "Political disarray in PNG rocks Oil Search shares" »

Analysis of economic statistics reveals a shocking truth

Paul Flanagan
Paul Flanagan - "My analysis of PNG’s statistics over recent years led me to conclude they are increasingly used to tell a convenient story for the government"

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited extracts

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea’s economic statistics are corrupted – some credible figures slip through but others are manipulated to protect the government.

And, despite attempts to justify significant variations, explanations are riddled with major errors and omissions.

Statistics are usually boring. Lots and lots of numbers and details. The recent release by Papua New Guinea’s National Statistics Office (NSO) of the national accounts from 2006 to 2016 could easily be seen as a boring document.

At one level they represent some credible pushback against the corruption of PNG’s statistics, but the details reveal the possibility of ongoing political interference.

The new statistics also have a very worrying bottom line – living standards in PNG have gone backwards by over 10% over the last five years – over K500 for every single person in PNG on average.

The statistics confirm a GDP recession in PNG in 2008 (there was probably another in 2018) – so PNG cannot claim to have continuous growth over the last 16 years as senior politicians continue to claim.

Continue reading "Analysis of economic statistics reveals a shocking truth" »

The long saga of the Karimui road. Can Kama change the game?

Challenging terrain of Karimui
The challenging terrain of Karimui - many attempts but the vital link road remains incomplete


KUNDIAWA - While Papua New Guinea is focusing on the imminent vote of no confidence in prime minister Peter O’Neill, in the the Simbu Province’s remote Salt Nomane region, the struggle to connect the Karimui area to the outside world is a never ending venture.

The strive to connect Karimui by road has spanned more than three decades and cost many millions of kina with no success.

But wok mas go het yet courtesy of a local MP. The big question now is whether Geoffrey Kama and his idea of a changed route from Gumine-Karimui to Kilau-Karimui can be a game changer?

Karimui is one of the three local level government administrative areas of Salt Nomane Karimui District and is situated at the extreme southern tip of Simbu Province bordering with Gulf, Eastern Highlands and Southern Highlands. The other two local governments are Salt and Nomane.

Karimui has a population of about 17,000 people who are represented by 27 ward councillors.

Unlike most parts of mountainous Simbu, Karimui is mostly flat with altitudes ranging from 800 – 1,500 meters above sea level.

Because of the unusual geography and climate, crops like cocoa, betel nut and coconuts normally found in coastal areas grow in Karimui as well as coffee, peanuts and rice. For this reason, Sir Michael Somare during one of his visits to Simbu described Karimui as the coast in the highlands.

Continue reading "The long saga of the Karimui road. Can Kama change the game?" »

Digital transformation - the role of mobile technology in PNG


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea has more than eight million people, over 800 spoken languages and one of the lowest population densities in the world.

There is real potential for mobile technology to be transformational in helping the country to achieve upper middle-income status by 2050, a key part of PNG’s strategic Vision 2050.

Underpinned by collaboration between government, the mobile industry, the private sector, civil society organisations and development agencies, mobile technology can play a role to address major challenges the country faces.

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UBS loan to PNG government may have breached 15 laws

Botten & O'Neill
Oil Search's Peter Botten and Peter O'Neill - "The deal to purchase the Oil Search shares was irregular," says the PNG Ombudsman, and the loan that enabled it was "highly inappropriate and speculative"


SYDNEY - A $1.24 billion (K2.9 billion) loan arranged by UBS Australia for the government of Papua New Guinea may have breached 15 laws, according to the watchdog in Port Moresby, which labelled the deal "highly inappropriate" and "speculative".

The 332-page report compiled by the Ombudsman Commission of PNG outlines a series of possible legal and governance breaches by prime minister Peter O'Neill and is set to refocus attention on the role of UBS in providing the loan.

The Australian Financial Review has obtained a copy of the report, completed in December last year, but only handed to the speaker of parliament earlier this month. It has not yet been tabled in parliament.

Its release will put further pressure on Mr O'Neill who is clinging to power amid growing opposition to his leadership and is preparing to face a no confidence vote when parliament returns on 28 May.

Continue reading "UBS loan to PNG government may have breached 15 laws" »

Leaders must accept that PNG must control & innovate or perish

I want my land backSIMON DAVIDSON

SONOMA - Papua New Guinea has a choice - to innovate and develop its massive natural resources to create more wealth or to forever be a rent collector.

Right now, we are a rent collector for our massive natural resources including the K65 billion PNG LNG project and the newest $US16 billion Papua LNG project.

The nation’s leaders have no intention of harnessing our resources to innovate and extract the wealth ourselves.

So decisions on our resources are dictated in the corporate boardrooms of off shore corporations, while we stand by idly watching the rapid plunder of our resources.

Continue reading "Leaders must accept that PNG must control & innovate or perish" »

Marape ignores threats & says "this is a revolution"

James Marape
James Marape - "We we will not be subservient to individual and corporate capitalist greed"


NOOSA – James Marape, Papua New Guinea’s former finance minister and appointed leader of its 'Alternative Government', has alleged police have been instructed to investigate “convoluted charges” against him and other highlands leaders who recently defected from the O’Neill government.

And he has accused his former close friend Peter O’Neill of “working to freeze Hela and Southern Highlands accounts and vindictively look into possibilities of suspending these provincial governments”.

“May I say we don’t subscribe to threats and intimidation,” he wrote in a statement on Facebook.

“This is a revolution of mindset, we will not be subservient to individual and corporate capitalist greed anymore,” he said.

Marape said his consistent advice to O’Neill to change the law so Papua New Guinea could gain greater value from its resources had fallen on deaf years, and that led to his resignation from the governing coalition.

Continue reading "Marape ignores threats & says "this is a revolution"" »

Failure to set up wealth fund left revenue to be plundered

Mekere Morauta (2)
Sir Mek - "The riches that should have flowed into the SWF have just disappeared into thin air"


PORT MORESBY - Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s failure to set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), leaving national revenue flows to be plundered and wasted, means any recovery plan by an incoming government will take years to implement because of a lack of money.

No money has ever flowed into the proposed SWF – in fact it has not even been constituted and does not have a board of directors despite all the trumpeting by Mr O’Neill and his accomplices. There is no SWF with any money or any assets – it is toktok tasol.

If the SWF had been set up, as proposed by me in 2011 and legislated in 2012, an incoming government would have a powerful tool to help with the rebuilding necessary after seven years of economic and financial mismanagement by Mr O’Neill.

Instead, the irresponsibility and negligence of Mr O’Neill have thwarted the purpose of the SWF - to help bring national economic growth and financial stability, to be the foundation of national savings in good times for use in bad times, and to provide for responsible expenditure on productive infrastructure.

Continue reading "Failure to set up wealth fund left revenue to be plundered" »

Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners

Digicel tower  Barikas  Madang Province (Amanda Watson)
Digicel tower at Barikas,  Madang Province (Amanda Watson)


PORT MORESBY – This is my seventh month of complaining about the failure of the Digicel PNG Ltd telecommunications company to pay the rent money it owes to the landowners of its digital tower locations.

Some Digicel employees feel sorry for us and have said the people in charge of payments will ignore us and never try to help.

The clauses of the agreement we made with Digicel are clear. No such thing should happen to any of us landowners. But because landowners are simple people and can easily be tricked, they continue to ignore us and cheat us.

Only a few landowners who have help from their families and clansmen are now seeking legal advice while the one hope of the rest of us is to continue to complain at the Digicel office. But we cannot break through by complaining and therefore are losing hope.

So what we think best is to use the media to expose what is going on. Not all the people in the Digicel office are bad. Perhaps some good people there will see this and try to find out what is going on.

When everyone in Digicel knows about the problems we face, perhaps they can talk for us. When that happens, we feel our problem can be solved and the corruption and cheating will be stopped.

Continue reading "Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners" »

Further doubt on value & viability of Elk-Antelope gasfield

Interoil elk antelopeSIR MEKERE MORAUTA MP

PORT MORESBY - The secrecy and haste surrounding prime minister Peter O’Neill’s approval of the gas agreement for the Papua LNG project may be hiding a multi-billion kina problem for Papua New Guinea – the value and viability of the Elk-Antelope gasfield that underpins the project.

A report available in the Department of Petroleum suggests that the field has five major problems.

The gas may not be anywhere near as extensive as first thought, nor as easily extractable. There is a high water content. The gas is of low quality, requiring expensive treatment. And the geology of the field is suspect.

See PNG Attitude's earlier story ‘Is the new Papua LNG project all that it appears?’

Continue reading "Further doubt on value & viability of Elk-Antelope gasfield" »

Porgera, brutality & the theft of PNG's resources

Porgera gold mine
Porgera gold mine - removal of gold has left the Porgerans very poor and very angry


NEW DELHI - Few people outside Papua New Guinea know about Porgera.

Those who do know about it know that it is one of the centres of international gold mining, with a major company with an innocuous name – Porgera Joint Venture– sucking out the enormous deposits of gold from its mountainous landscape.

The Porgera mine is one of the world’s top 10 producers of gold, which makes it remarkably rich – although the people who live near the mine have not shared in the spoils. The proven gold reserves of the Porgera mine are worth more than US$10 billion at today’s gold prices.

This is only one of PNG’s mines. There are hundreds more that run from one end of the country to another. The population of PNG is only eight million, which – given such wealth – would suggest that its people lived enriched lives. But this is not the case.

Continue reading "Porgera, brutality & the theft of PNG's resources" »