Economy. Papua New Guinea press review

Minister for State Enterprise of Papua New Guinea (PNG) Sasindran Muthuvel says that Air Niugini will need about K300 million (US$87,08 million) to revive and re-fleet its operations. According to Mr. Muthuvel, the airline was currently facing liquidity issues and re-fleeting was the key to the success of airliner. «The flights we currently hold are all F70. They are not economical aircrafts so it consumes a lot of fuel. […] But, so far, compared to many other airlines, we have managed well even during this difficult period and Air Niugini was in the forefront of bringing in PPEs [personal protective equipment] even from China», Mr. Muthuvel noted. PNG Minister for State Enterprise also marked that Air Niugini declared a profit of K500,000 (US$145,1 thousand) for 2019 which was a big improvement after the airline made a loss of over K100 million (US$29 million) in 2018. Mr. Muthuvel also thanked the Government for settling a K21 million outstanding payments which it owed to Air Niugini through a dividend arrangement. [1-3]

At the same time, an online petition is calling on the PNG Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) to reject Air Niugini’s bid to acquire shares in PNG Air. The petition is fast gaining signatories, already with 122 signatures in just two days after the petition was created. This call comes after Link PNG Ltd (Subsidiary of Air Niugini) bided to acquire some of PNG Air shares. PNG Air said it will be a terrible move which will be extremely detrimental to the travelling public of Papua New Guinea as there will be no competition. PNG Air also stated that if the bid is approved by ICCC, it will affect the cost of air travel in the near future. In turn, Air Niugini CEO Bruce Alabaster at a business event in Lae (Morobe Province) noted that it is not a merger or a takeover and the position before ICCC is have a robust dual-branded competitive Air Travel in PNG. Mr. Alabaster also said if this request is approved there will not be one national staff job loss in either airline. [4]

Minister for State Enterprise Sasindran Muthuvel says projects approved by the National Executive Council (NEC) are not yielding the expected results thus impacting profitability and service delivery to the public. Mr. Muthuvel was referring to the Kumul domestic submarine cable installed for more than K800 million (US$232,2 million). According to Mr. Muthuvel, the Government would service loans of almost K1.3 billion for projects under the Kumul Telikom Holdings portfolio: «The original project also did not include the cost of connecting some of the submarine cable landfalls to the existing telecommunications networks in the main centres of the country and we are providing a solution which costs additional money», Minister for State Enterprise said. Mr. Muthuvel also said he wanted to get the record straight on the poor financial legacies left by the previous government. However, Mr. Muthuvel noted that the authorities «agree that the cost of internet access and general telecommunications must come down to a level where more of the population can participate in the digital economy […] we are investigating options for reshaping the telecommunications sector and allowing initiatives to support infrastructure mutualisation that makes internet accessible, affordable and reliable», Mr. Muthuvel said. [5]

The Eastern Highlands Provincial Government has signed Memorandum of Agreement with McKinley Asia PNG Limited for Investments in Smart Agriculture and Livestock Projects worth K44.85 billion (US$13 billion). The signing witnessed by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. James Marape, Agriculture Minister John Simon, McKinley Asia PNG Limited CEO Min-Ho Hwang, and other dignitaries. Prime Minister James Marape stating the National Government will fully assist EHP Provincial Government with the project to see the establishment of downstream processing center for Agriculture Produce and Livestock. [6]

Porgera Gold Mine operator Barrick Niugini Ltd (BNL) has filed an application in court asking that the State provide all documents and information it had used when it refused to renew the miner’s special mining lease (SML). BNL is trying to find out what caused the State to delay its application for SML renewal. According to the miner, the reasons of refusal of its SML were never disclosed. During the hearing of the case, on several occasions lawyers representing the State and its authorities informed the miner and the court that documents of the refusal were confidential in nature and could not be disclosed. Solicitor-General Tauvasa Tanuvasa informed the court that the decision by the State was gazetted and could not be reversed. Mr. Tanuvasa had said that the miner and the State could only concentrate on the transitional period. At the same time, both parties will work together to ensure that the mine site is in safe and stable condition during the transition period. [7] [1] https://www.thenational.com.pg/airline-needs-k300mil-to-re-fleet/
[2] https://postcourier.com.pg/air-niugini-needs-k300m/
[3] https://www.thenational.com.pg/air-niugini-in-healthy-state-minister/
[4] https://kalangfm.com/news/petition-calls-for-iccc-to-reject-air-niugini-s-bid-to-acquire-part-of-png-air-749
[5] https://www.thenational.com.pg/projects-not-returning-enough-profit/
[6] https://emtv.com.pg/eastern-highlands-invests-in-agriculture/
[7] https://www.thenational.com.pg/mine-files-for-documents/
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