Economy. Papua New Guinea press review

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. James Marape says his Government aims to deliver electricity to 70% of the country by 2025. He said this during the launch of National Energy Policy 2017 to 2027 in Port Moresby. «Our Vision 2050 is electricity for all by 2050. My Government aims to deliver electricity to 70% of our country by 2025 […] Electricity is a key enabler for economic and human development. And we have started that work already without waiting on anyone […] Without cheap and reliable electricity, our country will not progress, » said Mr. Marape. In 2025 Papua New Guinea celebrates 50 years of Independence. [1]

In turn, PNG Minister for Communications & Information Technology Timothy Masiu has once again voiced his support for Kumul Consolidated Holdings to merge Bmobile and Telikom PNG. Mr. Masiu is also a member of the Ministerial Committee for State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Reform. «My colleague Minister for Public Enterprise Sasindran Muthuvel inherited a great challenge because of investment decisions made in the past; however, I am encouraged that we are about looking ahead and deciding what’s best for our people […] Technically speaking, the integration of two SOE mobile networks also has cost implications, » Mr. Masiu said. [2]

Mr. Timothy Masiu also noted that highlighted that taking into account the K1.6 billion (US$460 million) loan taken from China’s Exim Bank to expand the network coverage and coupled with the recent asset audits undertaken, the Government was now ready to consider the option of investing in the merger – before making any further consideration as to the future of the telecommunication SOEs. [3]

It’s also expected that new internet retail prices in the country will be set once the pricing review of the internet wholesale is completed next month, says Minister for Communications & Information Technology Timothy Masiu. According to Mr. Masiu, there were three separate wholesale internet prices for the international submarine cable coming from Sydney. The price review is being undertaken by the National Information Communication Technology Authority (NICTA). Mr. Masiu said that once the review was completed next month, new wholesale internet prices would be set. Internet prices are expected to decrease in Papua New Guinea. In 2014, the wholesale internet pricing of K4,449.47 (US$1,300) was reduced to K1,300 (US$380). It is currently at K335 (US$98) megabits per month. [4-5]

One of the major PNG mining companies Ok Tedi Mining Ltd. (Western Province) announced about 37 COVID-19 cases after the massive testing. Out of the 341 samples sent to Australia for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, 37 were positive, 298 returned negative while 6 are still awaiting results. The Ok Tedi Mine is currently on a 14-day lockdown. Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Musje Werror said that the health and safety of employees, their families, contractors and communities were the priorities of the mine management. Ok Tedi Mining continues to implement its COVID-19 management response programme to contain the spread of the coronavirus and trace the contacts. [6-7]

In turn, Credit Corporation Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Peter Aitsi said that the impacts of Porgera mine’s closure will become more evident over the next 2 to 4 months and would result in loss of income for landowners, contractors, suppliers, provincial governments and the Government. According to Peter Aitsi, impacts of the Covid-19 on business was largely disruptions to customer and staff movements caused by travel and movement restrictions introduced to prevent spread of coronavirus. «PNG’s economic conditions reflect the overall weak global economy but I believe are further compounded by the lack of progress of our major resource projects which has resulted in significant decline in levels of foreign direct investment […] The Government needs to strike the right balance between national interests and investor interests in negotiating distribution of project benefits […] The Prime Minister [Hon. James Marape] has said he wants to finalise all current project agreements including P’nyang, Wafi-Golpu and Porgera by the 16th of September, which coincides with PNG’s Independence Day […] We hope win-win agreements can be reached by then to lift business confidence and set PNG up for several years of strong GDP, employment and revenue growth, » Mr. Aitsi stated. [8]

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