Domestic Politics. Papua New Guinea press review

The 5th National Census in Papua New Guinea (PNG) will be rolled out on the 11th of July 2021. The decision was made by the National Statics Office. According to the National Statistician John Igitoi, there are various reasons why the National Census has been moved to next year, including State of Emergency (SoE), lockdown and restrictions in provinces, and also funding from the Government. [1]

However, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. James Marape has publicly warned provinces not to ask for, or talk about self-autonomy, referendum or independence, to do so will be an act of sedition once a law is passed in Parliament. Mr. Marape announced this when he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the Autonomous Region Bougainville (ARB) during the inauguration of President Ishmael Toroama and the 4th House of Representatives last week. Mr. Marape did not mention a specific time frame, but said such a law will be passed «soon» and «in his term in office». This new announcement by PNG Prime Minister comes amid a growing number of calls for autonomy from Waigani, the most advanced being New Ireland and the more recent cases being Enga, among others. [2]

In turn, Ialibu-Pangia (Southern Highlands Province) MP Peter O’Neill is concerned about a statement by Prime Minister James Marape that people who talk about issues of provincial independence or autonomy will be charged with sedition, but PNG Prime Minister however said that he was misunderstood when explaining the difference between the referendum for autonomy and independence for provinces. [3]

«In the theory of self-determination, autonomy means you have free will and that you can stand behind your actions and their values […] On the other hand, independence means you don’t need or accept help, resources or care from others, » Mr. Marape said. [4]

PNG Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Pangu Pati also noted that he stuck to his «three-to-one» ratio in allocating ministries to the major coalition partners (the National Alliance Party, United Resources Party, United Labour Party and People’s Party). The ruling Pangu Pati holds 12 ministerial portfolios. According to Mr. Marape, the changes «will consolidate stability, enhance leadership at the political level to drive key policy priorities of the Government which capitalise on the skills and capabilities of individual ministers». [5]

A Leadership Tribunal has dismissed six of the nine allegations of misconduct in office against the leader of National Alliance Party, Aitape-Lumi MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Patrick Pruaitch. He pleaded guilty to the remaining three charges relating to the late submission of leadership annual returns. A decision on a penalty for three charges National Alliance Party leader and Aitape-Lumi MP Patrick Pruaitch pleaded guilty to in relation to late submission of annual returns, will be made on 15 October by a Leadership Tribunal. [6-8]

Justice Minister and Attorney-General Davis Steven is proud of what he had achieved on legislative reforms as the deputy prime minister, and congratulated his successor Planning Minister Sam Basil for taking on the position. Steven said the priority now was to ensure Parliament passed the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Bill. [9]

New Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil in his first official engagement has vowed to realise Mr. Marape Government’s agenda to connect PNG starting from Morobe to Port Moresby. Mr Basil, who is also Minister for National Planning, said connecting Morobe and the rest of PNG to Port Moresby will cost between PGK400 and PGK500 million (over US$140 million). This is a national government priority. [10]
Minister for Information and Communications Technology Timothy Masiu has congratulated the new ministers. They are Tourism Minister Walter Schnaubelt, Energy Minister William Onglo and Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil. [11]

The newly appointed Minister for Energy, William Onglo is determined to ensure that the upcoming National Energy Authority Bill is enacted in the next Parliament Sitting (10th of November 2020). [12]

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