Economy. Papua New Guinea press review

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on Papua New Guinea (PNG) economy. Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey said that according to a commissioned research into the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) forecast at 2% in the 2020 national budget would drop to -1.5%. The research further revealed that the possible economic impact after a two-month shutdown would see the Gross Domestic Product growth rate drop to -3.8%, and a further drop to -6.2%.

According to Ian Ling-Stuckey, «The economic research results are very worrying […] A major drop in GDP will lead to more poverty and more premature deaths». Treasurer also said that the Government was trying to «strike the right balance between protecting our health and protecting our livelihoods».

PNG Air chief executive Paul Abbot says if the negative impacts of COVID-19 continue without some relief then it might not be viable for the airline to continue. PNG Air had approached the Government for support «on behalf of the 796 direct employees of the airline, the 250 indirect employees and the many dependents and family members who would be severely impacted by the closure of PNG Air» – said P. Abbot.

Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Loi Bakani has clarified that the Central Bank has taken measures to assist those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea. According to Bakani loss of jobs means a loss of income and the Bank of PNG is working with financial institutions to help those affected. One of the measures the Central Bank took was reduce the Policy interest rate, by 2%. This led to banks reducing their base lending rates and associated rates and fees for products and services they offer, to allow customers to borrow at lower rates during this crisis period. Mr. Bakani explained that BPNG has reduced the Cash Reserve Requirement from 10% to 7%, which injected liquidity of around K650 million to commercial banks. He said this will ensure there is sufficient liquidity with banks for customers to withdraw their savings and borrow too. Mr. Bakani also pointed out that the Central Bank will be making relief for loan and interest payments by financial institutions. All financial institutions agreed to provide relief of 3 months on loan repayments and interest payments to customers who have lost jobs.

The Kumul Submarine Cable has landed in New Ireland Province within the framework of developing the National Transmission Network (NTN) by PNG DataCo and partners. The installation of the cable was witnessed by New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan. The landing covers the entire province with distributions covering smaller islands and along the Buluminksy Highway to Namatanai.

In a statement, PNG DataCo General Manager for Engineering Services, Tony Morisause, said the landing covers the entire province with distributions covering smaller islands and along the Buluminksy Highway to Namatanai. With the installation of the Kumul Cable, New Ireland Province will be connected to the rest of the world boosting healthcare, education tourism, fisheries and agribusiness. Cables have been installed in West Sepik (Vanimo), East Sepik (Wewak), Madang, Manus, West New Britain(Kimbe) and New Ireland (Kavieng). East New Britain and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are next in line for installation.
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