National Working Group
***** Speech by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. Peter O’Neill, Member for Ialibu-Pangia on the occasion of the breakfast to launch the first meeting of the National Working group on improving business and investment climate in Papua New Guinea *****
Thank you Master of Ceremonies,
Honorable Don Poyle, Treasurer and Minister for Treasurer, Hon Richard Maru, Minister for trade, Commerce and Industry, Hon. Charles Abel, Minister for planning and Rural Development and other Ministers here present including members of parliament. I also acknowledge the Chief Secretary and the hard working members of the National Working Group on Improving Business and investment climate, diplomatic community, business community, public servants, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is indeed my Honor to speak to the business community and to preside over the launch of the first meeting of the National Working Group on Improving Business and Investment Climate in PNG, initiated, developed and delivering outcomes under the office of Chief Secretary, in partnership with private sector peak bodies and fully supported by my office.
As soon as my Government took office in 2012, We set out in the Alotau Accord to deliver and environment of stability and prosperity would be pursued vigorously.
The Productive sectors, commerce and business were priorities in Alotau and have continued to be a priority in our planning and budget allocations in the 2014 budget. My government is confident going into 2014. Like all developing countries, PNG is faced with great development challenges but is also blessed with the possibilities and opportunities. Riding on the back of the LNG construction and first shipment for 2014, We have the greatest challenge to translate our economic growth to tangible development for our citizens whilst dealing with the social challenges of law and order, social challenges of Law and Order, Security, Health and climate change. This Government would mitigate our development challenge by ensuring the Government’s MTDS is vigorously Implemented under the five year budgeting process with consistency in funding and audits undertaken to ensure DSIP funds transferred to local level governments are satisfactorily delivered.
Private sector is critical as a development partner to deliver our development agenda for PNG. In order to create a healthy and wealthy PNG. My government seeks partnership with private sector and business community and we believe private sector is the engine of growth so long as there is conducive business environment. Where we see the role of private sector in 2014 would be as follows and i would like to highlight to you all this morning.
a) Roads with a massive infrastructure budget with key roads to the highland highway, Lae – Nadzab road, Bougainville inland Highway, Port Moresby city roads upgrade, Kerema – POM Highway, Sepik Highway and the South Highlands Highway. One of the key objectives from all of this is to ensure the management and maintenance of the National Highways. We have also implemented plans to ensure each department is responsible for either local roads or National Highway programs. There will now be clear direction and management of our roads so we are not seeing potholes anymore in the coming years.
b) Ports and shipping infrastructure
c) Major Hospital Rehabilitation including Angau Hospital and
d) Port Moresby General Hospital
e) Review and reform to the Government procurement system under CSTB procurement. We acknowledge the procurement system has failures and we intend to streamline and make improvements by the inclusion of private sector mentality and mentorship to the many boards throughout PNG.
f) Infrastructure development authority is the agency where the Government intends to have oversight over all major infrastructural projects including Ports, Airports, Roads, Government Building and anymore projects.
2) SOE – Power, Water, telecommunications
– reforms to state owned enterprises
– PNG Power boost with K100 Million to rehabilitate infrastructure
– Alternative sources of power supply through PPP- between the State owned Power operator and the Private sector
– Nominations and selection of directors and Governance of SOE’s
3) City Development
– Office of urbanisation as secretariat for the Government.
– Licensing of business activities to generate revenue for the Urban local level Governments to provide Government services
– Housing and development under the national planning department – 10 houses to be built per district, per year for Government / Public sector Officers.
4) Skills development – PM’s Award
– Setting of awards and schemes to develop the skills bank of PNG.
– Institute of directors, Westpac Women in business, City pharmacy ltd. Government is in the process to recognise and support the development of skills in PNG through the public sector reforms.
5) Foreign Direct investment framework
– SME’s stimulus package and announcements included the need to create a foreign investment review board.
– Governments recent announcement and the use of “National Interest” test to refuse further acquisition of NBPOL.
– Madang communique and the reserve activity list and moves to close up sector to foreign companies. What is the Government doing? Business requires confidence that Government is setting up policies and framework to be predictable.
– International trade and investment – Liberalisation, APEC, Melanesian Festival of Arts ect. Commitment and perspectives on foreign investment.
6) Tax review – sector specific input
– The tax review committee has been appointed by NEC and secretariat of the committee is housed at the treasury department
– The Key intention of the government is to look at the Tax administration system, review it and see where revenue is not generated, encourage businesses to be tax compliant and make it easier for businesses to register and lodge tax returns
– Others include specific review of corporate taxes in the mining sector
7) Fight against corruption
– Establishment of ICAC
– Task force sweep
– Successful investigations and pending cases
– Anti Money Laundering and Anti terrorism Financing
These are the seven main things that the private sector might be wondering; what and how, the O’Neill/Dion Government will manage during the 2014 period. Greater resilience and growth in 2014 for PNG would demand continuous dialogue between the public sector and private sector. These conversations have started and will continue throughout 2014 so that we achieve the right result and outcomes for PNG.
Finally i would like to congratulate the chief secretary and his members of the National Working Group for your commitment to improving the business environment and promoting competitive PNG private sector so that jobs are created, a PNG citizen is able to earn an income, have access to medical services and puts food on the table for his or her family.
These reforms and deliberations of the NWG have my support and its these public private dialogue platforms that would likely stimulate further changes in the regulatory landscape of this country. I would like to see that reforms discussed at NWG be part of the budget process and my office undertakes to financially commit funds to support economic reform agenda for PNG.
It is now my pleasure to officially launch the first meeting of the National Working Group on Improving Business and Investment Climate in PNG and wish you all a successful 2014 in business.