Monday, April 30, 2012

Famous kiap Bob Cleland returns to Eastern Highlands

Legendary kiap (patrol officer) and Highlands Highway builder Bob Cleland returned to Goroka and Eastern Highlands for the first time since he left in 1976, last Saturday (April 28).

Bob Cleland is welcomed back to Goroka by Asaro mudmen and other Eastern Highlands dancers.-All pictures by MALUM NALU
Cleland was feted like royalty the moment he stepped onto the tarmac in Goroka, on which he first set foot on 59 years ago in 1953.
Asaro mudmen and other Eastern Highlands dancers welcomed him back to Goroka, and he was greeted by senior provincial government officials including outgoing provincial administrator MunareUyassi, as blind children from the Mt Sion School for the Blind outside Goroka sang that famous and moving Goroka anthem “Welcome to Goroka”.

Bob Cleland being presented an Eastern Highlands flag by outgoing provincial administrator Munare Uyassi on Saturday. Cleland was the one who designed the Nokondi motif on this flag.
 Cleland, now aged 81, was clearly overwhelmed by the welcome.
His widely-acclaimed book, Big Road, first published in 2010, but not widely on sale yet in PNG, tells the story of the building of the Highlands Highway, particularly the Daulo stretch between Asaro and Watabung in Eastern Highlands in 1953, which he personally supervised as a 22-year-old kiap.

Bob Cleland on the summit of Daulo Pass, the road he supervised construction of, back in 1953.-
The 'big road' today is the Highlands Highway running from the port of Lae and through the highlands provinces of PNG.
Big Road describes the initial construction by hand, in 1953 and 1954, of the Daulo section of the road, which runs over the 2,478m Daulo Pass and which gives access westward to the great Waghi Valley.
Cleland, before the Daulo Pass, helped the late Rupert Haviland built part of the road over the Kassam Pass.
The big road was neither designed nor built by engineers but by kiaps, with local villagers using only picks, shovels and thousands of hours of backbreaking labour.

Bob Cleland points out the panorama of the Asaro Valley from Daulo Pass
Cleland was also involved in the first Goroka Show in 1956 and designed the Eastern Highlands provincial flag, in particular Nokondi – the fabled spirit who had one eye, one ear, one leg and one testicle.
Last Saturday evening, at the Bird of Paradise Hotel, Cleland was special guest at the launching of the 2012 Goroka Show, where his reminisces enthralled the spellbound audience.
His father Donald (later Sir Donald) Cleland, was administrator of Papua New Guinea for 15 years from 1951.
Cleland served 23 years altogether in PNG from 1953-1976.
After Watabung, he was transferred to Kainantu for two years, attended the Australian School of Public Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney, and then served in Daru, Balimo, Lae, Kokopo, Chuave and then ended up in Goroka, where he was executive officer of the Eastern Highlands Area Authority (which became the Eastern Highlands provincial government in 1977) from 1975-1976,
The new authority needed a common seal, and when Cleland asked members what was something traditional covering the whole Eastern Highlands, they quickly decided on Nokondi.
That same image is at the centre of today’s Eastern Highlands provincial flag.
“Those 23 years were the best years of my life,” Cleland told The National in Goroka.
“It was a very rewarding job.
“If you did a job properly, you could see the results.”

Nasfund savings and loans posts K4.2 million profit

Nasfund Contributors Savings and Loans Society has announced a net operating profit of K4.2 million, which represents an increase of 55% from K2.7 million recorded in 2010, The National reports. Chairman Ian Tarutia announced the results after its board meeting held last Thursday.

Ian Tarutia… board approves 6% interest for members
The audited accounts revealed the following:
• Net operating profit of K4.2 million representing an increase of 55% from K2.7 million recorded in 2010;
• Gross assets of K79.6 million representing an increase of 20% from K66.1 million recorded in 2010;
• Net assets of K10.3 million – an increase of 24% from net asset value of K8.3 million recorded in 2010;
• Member savings deposits totaling K89.1 million representing an increase of 20% from K57.6 million recorded in 2010;
• Outstanding loans to members increased to K20.6 million presenting an increase of 11% from K18.5 million recorded in 2010; and
• Reserves of K5.2 million representing an increase of 19% from K4.3 million recorded in 2010.
Tarutia said during the year, the society:
• Paid out K28 million in loans to members;
• Paid out K29 million in withdrawals;
• Increased its membership base to 56, 539, representing an increase of 6% from 52, 223 members in 2010;
• Launched Nascare, a medicare/life insurance product for members. As part of the awareness programme, its business development team visited all provinces where the society was represented to explain Nascare to members;
• Conducted 151 shop floor presentations to members/potential employers, which were attended by 5, 494 members;
• Introduced two more companies as participants in the society’s popular Value Back Programme. Under this programme, members can avail of discounts upon payment of goods and services.
“It was a solid year in the face of rising competition from newly-licensed societies and microfinance organisations, with the society experiencing significant growth in membership, asset size and profitability,” Tarutia said.
“The society continues to maintain a diversified income stream from investments in government securities, bank deposits, equity and security.
“The society loan portfolio was K20.6 million – an increase of K2 million.
“This is a pleasing result for the society as it reflects an increase in the core business activity of the society.

“The increase in membership reflects the growing interest in the society and products.
“With net assets over K10 million, the society is in a strong financial position of overcome an unexpected losses.
“The board has approved at its board meeting, after statutory reserving members will receive 6% interest o on their savings, which equates to over K3.3 million.
“This will be credited to members’ accounts this month.”

Nasfund profits slump in 2011

Nasfund last Friday announced a massive slump in profits from K308.658 million in 2010 to a mere K44.662 million in 2011, The National reports.
It said the slump was mainly because of currency appreciation, peaking property valuations and softening of share values in its listed equities.
Not much much detail was given about how the controversial Sovereign Community Infrastructure Treasury Bill (SCITB) K125 million investment impacted on its final earnings.
Nasfund said 2% out of its reserves of K97 million - equating to K44.531 million - would be distributed into individual member accounts.
The audited accounts revealed:
• Net assets of K2.338 billion representing an increase of 7.5% from a net asset value of K2.221 billion recorded in 2010;
• Reserves of K97.5 million representing 4% of net asset value before distribution;
• Operating profit before provision for contingent liabilities and related impairments of K44.662 million compared to K308.658 million recorded in 2012.
In the area of membership, the fund recorded:
• Active membership base of 153, 397 representing a growth of 13.8% increase from 140, 545 members in 2010;
• Active employer base of 2,107 employers representing an 8% increase from 1,943 employers in 2010;
• Average monthly contribution inflows of K28 million from employers, representing an increase of 13% compared to K24.7 million received month in 2010; and
• Payment of K166.28 million to 55, 086 members in unemployment, retirement and housing advance benefits, compared to 74, 323 members withdrawing in 2012, representing a reduction of 25% of members withdrawing from the fund.
Chairman Mel Togolo said the year 2011 was a very challenging year, not only for Nasfund but the superannuation industry.
Mel Togolo… a very challenging year, not only for Nasfund but the superannuation industry
“From an industry perspective, our respective investment portfolios were adversely impacted by currency appreciation against the Australian dollar, peaking property valuations and softening of share values in our listed equities,” he said.
“These were the main drivers of capital gains in the past, which saw funds in PNG recording high profits and delivering double digit returns.
“Those days are over and with the advent of the global financial crisis still lingering in the western world, its effect is now being felt by our own economy in which we operate and invest.
“Despite these setbacks, our industry has been resilient and strong enough to continue delivering positive crediting rates compared to super funds in Australia, for example, who are still experiencing high negative returns.”
Togolo said for the fund itself, the SCITB investment was a stark reminder that consultation with the state and all its instrumentalities was paramount to achieving desired feedback outcomes without recourse to legal challenges.
Togolo said the board’s strategy of setting aside savings in the good years and maintaining a high reserve level was now bearing fruit.
“Even where we are recording a loss as a consequence of high provisioning to accommodate a K40 million general impairment to cover amongst others, the resolution of the SCITB investment with the state, we are still able to pay a competitive rate to members,” he said.
“The board approved to pay 2% out of its reserves of K97 million, which equates to approximately K44.531 million, to be distributed into individual member accounts.
“This will leave the fund with K43.5 million in reserves, which equates to 1.82% of net asset value.
“For members who exit the fund in 2012, the interim crediting rate is 1.5%.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

Letters from Waigani

The missing letters of the National Archives signboard at Waigani have been there for as long as I can remember, however, like anything government in PNG, nothing gets done to remedy the problem!

Legendary patrol officer Bob Cleland returns to PNG

This is the legendary former kiap, Highlands Highway builder, writer and former resident of Goroka BOB CLELAND, 81, whom I will have the privilege of travelling with to Goroka tomorrow for the launching of the 2012 Goroka Show.
Bob Cleland holding a copy of Big Road today.-Picture by MALUM NALU
 He is holding with him a copy of his widely-acclaimed book, BIG ROAD, which tells the story of the building of the Highlands Highway, particularly the Daulo stretch between Asaro and Watabung in Eastern Highlands in 1953, which he personally supervised as a 23-year-old kiap (patrol officer).
 The 'big road' today is the Highlands Highway running from the port of Lae and through the highlands provinces of PNG.
 BIG ROAD describes the initial construction by hand, in 1953 and 1954, of the Daulo section of the road, which runs over the 2,478m Daulo Pass and which gives access westward to the great Waghi Valley. 
The big road was neither designed nor built by engineers but by patrol officers, or kiaps, with local villagers using only picks, shovels and thousands of hours of backbreaking labour.
 BOB CLELAND was also involved in the first Goroka Show in 1956 and designed the Eastern Highlands provincial flag. 
In true Goroka style, he will be given a hero's welcome when he touches down tomorrow morning.
I'll keep you posted.

Justice must be seen to be done

Justice must be seen to be done...the government can spend millions on legal fees for lawyers but can't fix up this big pothole leading to the Waigani Court House.

A classic case of getting your priorities all f...ed up!

Fraud and blunders cost aid agency $1.5m

By Rory Callinan in Sydney Morning Herald

FURNISHINGS for the homes of Papua New Guinea bureaucrats have been ''incorrectly'' bought using $150,000 worth of Australian taxpayers funds and a thief has pocketed just over $250,000 from a justice strengthening project also funded by Australia.
The waste was among about $1.5 million worth of AusAID funding the federal agency admits will never be recovered as a result of frauds and irregular spending from 2004 to 2010.
This was revealed after the Herald asked the agency to detail how much had been recovered from a series of high-value frauds and whether those responsible had faced justice.
AusAID confirmed no one would ever face charges in four cases involving significant amounts of aid money dating back to 2006. Suspects in four other incidents are yet to face court despite the suspected fraud occurring in one case up to six years earlier.
However, the AusAID first assistant director general, Laurie Dunn, defended the agency's handling of the matters, saying some cases emphasised the reasons behind the programs while resourcing had been increased to crack down on theft.
Mr Dunn confirmed the agency's largest outstanding fraud still related to a load of food and equipment worth $1.2 million that was allegedly stolen by the Eritrean government.
He said the agency was continuing to push for the return of the goods but he admitted the food had been consumed.
In another case, AusAID said a suspect defrauded about $258,391 from a PNG aid program that was supposed to improve the justice system in 2006.
The suspect was sacked but was never charged after the matter was not finalised before the statute of limitations expired, according to AusAID.
Mr Dunn said there was ''not a lot more we can do''. He denied any suggestion the loss coming from a program supposed to enhance justice was embarrassing, saying this incident was ''the reason we are there''.
In another PNG program, some $155,080 was initially thought to have been stolen from a program on Bougainville in 2008 but was instead used to buy furnishings for the residences of PNG civil servants.
However, an AusAID spokesman said incorrect procedures had occurred in the situation and budget controls were tightened to prevent a recurrence.
 Another PNG loss the agency wrote off involved the provision of $44,222 to a sub-contractor to provide kit homes for a hospital in Oro province.
 The agency confirmed the money had been a deposit and the Hong Kong sub-contractor did not provide the homes and refused to return the money.
Mr Dunn said it ''underscored the difficulty in recovering money in developing countries'' and then a third country.
He said since the audits, AusAID had boosted anti-fraud measures. ''We have a very strong audit process in AusAID and we have just recently increased resourcing and set up a new chief of audit program,'' Mr Dunn said.
The agency had some successes, including recovering $88,315 allegedly stolen from a financial management program in PNG in 2008.

PNG prime minister averts national strike

By Eoin Blackwell, AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has averted a national strike, as he pledges national elections will go ahead as scheduled.
Mr O'Neill has told a gathering of civil society groups, including the PNG Trade Union Congress, the employers federation, churches and NGOs, his government's controversial new laws investing more power in MPs had been stayed by the court, and it was up to a new government to sort them out.
"I assure all Papua New Guineans and our international partners that this government stands ready to deliver a free and fair election," he said in a statement.
"The motion in parliament to defer elections for six months was an expression of frustration by members of parliament at the electoral commission's failure to have the common roll updates ready on time."
The Port Moresby-based Papua New Guinea Post-Courier carried the news with the headline "All Is OK Now" above a picture of the PM with the civil groups.
As well as the government's controversial April 2 vote to delay the June election by six months, parliament has passed a series of laws aimed at, critics say, reining in the power of PNG's courts.
These include the passage of the Judicial Conduct Act 2012, which gives parliament the power to suspend judges, and the Supreme Court Amendment, which spells out stricter guidelines for judges.
All of those laws have been challenged in the court and a stay issued on them, Mr O'Neill said.
"These laws that we passed were seized by the courts and have injunctions over them," he said.
"Therefore, the new government that comes in after the elections can take this matter up," he said.
"Our concerns now is to go to the elections and allow the people to choose leaders whom the believe will represent them well in parliament."
The government is however investigating the reappointment of Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen, and Mr O'Neill has frequently attacked his performance because the common rolls are incomplete.
The election date is set by the electoral commissioner, who must go to the governor-general to dissolve parliament.
The Trade Union Congress had urged its members to begin disrupting services such as electricity and water delivery because, said general secretary John Paska on Monday, the government was threatening the constitution.
"What we have at the moment is a government that is moving towards a dictatorial regime," he told AAP.
"All that needs to happen now is for them to formalise it."
However by Thursday morning, before the meeting with the PM and after Monday's planned mass protest failed to eventuate after police said organisers had not met the proper safety requirements, Mr Paska changed his tune.
"Right now they are calling me enemy," he told NBC Radio, referring to press statements from the PM's office.
"But we are friends, we are all friends. They are probably swearing at me right now."
As Mr Paska spoke, AAP fielded calls from contacts concerned over violence on the streets of Port Moresby.
Businesses closed their doors on Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of violence.
Two peaceful protests have been held against the government in Moresby since late March. There were no signs of political unrest on Thursday, and most businesses had reopened their doors.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah has denied he was the architect of the vote to delay the election and says he will challenge in court this week the validity of the electoral roll in parts of his Vanimo-Green electorate

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 Goroka Show launching

2012 Goroka Show launching at Bird of Paradise Hotel tomorrow by former kiap, Highlands Highway builder, writer and former resident of Goroka BOB CLELAND.

See you in Goroka tomorrow...em ples bilong mi tu ya.

InterOil has operator for Gulf LNG


InterOil says it has an ‘internationally-recognised LNG operator” for the Gulf LNG project, however, is bound by confidentiality agreements not to disclose any names, The National reports.
The company’s vice-president of capital markets and investor relations, Wayne Andrews, said with the help of its investment banks, InterOil was on schedule to partner with an internationally-recognised LNG operator in order to satisfy the remaining requirements of its 2009 project agreement commitment.
“We are in the process of selecting an internationally-recognised LNG operator for a partner in our project,” he said.
“We expect our partner to work with us to complete remaining FEED (front end engineering and design) on the liquefaction plant by the June 2013 date specified in the 2009 project agreement.”
Andrews declined to disclose any names.
“InterOil is bound by confidentiality agreements not to disclose the potential partners,” he said.
“We will announce the partner once negotiations are completed and that partner satisfies the state’s requirements.
“We can, however, reiterate that we are pleased with the number of bidders involved in the process and we expect a positive conclusion shortly.”
Asked about InterOil’s reasons for changing the initial project scope, Andrews said the scope of the project evolved during the FEED process to take advantage of improvements in modular design and cost efficiencies.
“The plans were periodically endorsed by the PNG government,” he said.
“Irrespective of whether a modular approach is pursued to construct the liquefaction plant, however, InterOil has always intended to meet the capacity requirements set forth in the project agreement.
“The government and Petromin are InterOil’s most important partners in this endeavor and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure that we attain our goals in a satisfactory manner.
“The location changed from the original plans, although this possibility was also fully contemplated by us and the government in 2009 and incorporated in the project agreement.
“All stakeholders have agreed that the Gulf province would benefit from the infrastructure development associated with the project.”

BSP has first female board member

Bank of South Pacific yesterday announced the appointment of prominent PNG lawyer Freda Talao as its first female board member since amalgamation of the company in 2002, The National reports.
Freda Talao

Chairman Kostas Constantinou welcomed Talao and Geoffrey John Robb as board members.
Talao, from Siassi Island, Morobe province, holds a law degree from University of PNG, a master’s degree from Bond University, Queensland and is currently undertaking doctoral studies at TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland.
Talao has extensive work experience in the government, private, NGO and development sectors in PNG.
She also chaired in a voluntary capacity, a human Rights NGO ‘Individual and Community Rights Advocacy Forum’ (ICRAF) for over seven years whilst working for AusAID.
In her capacity as chair of ICRAF, she has represented PNG both locally and internationally on diverse human rights issues.
Talao has previously been on several boards including the Mama Graun Conservation Trust Fund, Liklik Dinau Trust Fund, ICRAF, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is currently on the National Airports Corporation Board (NAC) and is chair for the newly-established Airports City Development Limited (ACDL).
Talao is also currently a member of the External Stakeholders Advisory Panel (ESAP) to the Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV), which operates the Hidden Valley gold mine in Morobe province.
Robb is a highly-qualified and experienced banker having occupied several senior executive positions including project finance and complex strategic transactions with ANZ Banking Group Ltd and Bank of America.

Geoffrey John Robb
He has a great depth of experience in financial analysis, having been involved in analysing and considering finance for a very wide range of businesses over a long period during his banking career.
As head of Bank of America in Melbourne, he led resource financings with BHP, CRA, Elders Resources, Bougainville Copper and Ok Tedi.
He holds an MBA from the International Management Institute Geneva and Macquarie University and will bring his deep banking experience to the Board.
Robb has travelled extensively in emerging markets and he has walked the Kokoda Track.
He has received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to mountaineering

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

InterOil willing to work with government on LNG project


InterOil yesterday (Tuesday) denied that it had been rejected by the National Executive Council for the controversial Gulf LNG project, The National reports.
It also clarified that the deadline for final investment decision (FID) was June 2013.
The company’s vice-president of capital markets and investor relations, Wayne Andrews said InterOil was willing to work with the government and state-owned Petromin develop the Gulf LNG project, after a week of controversy which made local and international headlines.
He said since the company’s formation 15 years ago, InterOil had spent “hundreds of millions of dollars to help develop PNG’s resources and benefit its people”.
“The NEC has not rejected InterOil, but has required that we seek to introduce an internationally-recognised LNG operator into the project and that we adhere to the capacity interval set forth in the 2009 project agreement,” he said.
“Last year, we determined that LNG market conditions were favorable to seeking an ‘internationally-recognised LNG operator’.
“With the help of our investment banks, we are on schedule to partner with an internationally-recognised LNG operator in order to satisfy the remaining requirements of our 2009 project agreement commitment.
“We are pleased with the level of interest among companies that fit the profile required by the NEC and anticipate a positive conclusion to the deal process by the end of this quarter.
“The process we are undertaking to introduce a major partner will naturally have some influence upon the shape of the project and we are diligently working to comply absolutely with the terms of the project agreement.
“We will continue with our efforts to work with the government and with Petromin.
Andrews said there was no deadline for front end engineering and design (FEED) as claimed by some parties, with the only deadline being for final investment decision (FID).
“The only date specified in the 2009 project agreement is for FID, the decision a company makes to proceed with a project,” he said.
“That date is June 2013.
“FEED generally needs to be completed before FID because the economics of the project is the measure used to determine if a project is profitable – which is the key factor behind FID.
“That being said, the economics of the Gulf LNG project are sufficiently compelling to justify a positive FID even at the current stage of our FEED process, and we anticipate that FID will occur almost immediately following NEC approval.”
Andrews said the Gulf LNG project was developed with PNG government support over the last two years with a phased development.
“FEED is well advanced and we don’t anticipate any difficulties completing FEED within sufficient time to meet the FID date provided for in the project agreement,” he said.
“We have completed FEED on the gathering system from wells to the condensate stripping plant (CSP).”

ANZAC Day address in Madang

By Brother Andrew Simpson
Vice President Student Affairs
Divine Word University

The term ANZAC stands for the Australia New Zealand Army Corp.   
It was on 25 April 1915 that armed forces representing both Australia and New Zealand fought together as one unit at Gallipoli in Turkey in defence of freedom and the rights of others within the global community.

 Since coming together as a fighting force in 1915, the spirit of ANZAC has developed a close bond of friendship and respect between the peoples and countries of Australia and New Zealand. 
 Papua New Guinea has also shared strongly in that ANZAC spirit and both Australia and New Zealand value very highly the bond of friendship with Papua New Guinea and we share a respect for each other.
 ANZAC Day is celebrated particularly in Australia and New Zealand and broadly commemorates the lives and beliefs of all who died and served for their countries in military operations.   
ANZAC Day is also a major commemoration in the South Pacific Region, particularly in Papua New Guinea and other nearby countries, where many severe battles of war took place. 
 Here in Papua New Guinea we also celebrate Remembrance Day on 23 July to commemorate our own special memories for our loved ones who fought for the belief of freedom and responsibility within PNG.
 Whilst that day in 1915 was our first coming together in the ANZAC tradition, Australia has been involved in many theatres of war. 
The Boer War in Africa, the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam were engagements of the past. 
 Today we have Afghanistan and Iraq and we also participate in peace-keeping forces in a number of countries.  
 We acknowledge and thank those who have suffered in any way in these conflicts, and we pray for the challenge of finding peace in our world and of being able to resolve our conflicts in a non-violent manner.
 The history of the Dawn Ceremony grew out of the ANZAC tradition. 
 The Dawn Ceremony on ANZAC Day evolved from the comradeship experienced by those ANZAC soldiers in the quiet moments before dawn on that first ANZAC morning in the ditches of Gallipoli as they waited to enter into battle.   
The Dawn Ceremony also reflects our Christian belief of Resurrection that as we await the dawning of a new day and new life, we remember those who have suffered and died in military conflicts.  There is the vision of new life in front of us today.
 And it is fitting that we celebrate the Dawn Ceremony on both ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day each year here at Kalibobo Point.  
 This lighthouse was built as a special Coastwatchers Memorial to the many allies and Papuan new Guineans who lived in the hills behind the hinterland and reported the movement of Japanese planes and boats along the coastline – these soldiers, plantation workers and villagers were known as the Coastwatchers and played a significant role in the success of the Battle of the Coral Sea.
 Today in Madang we remember those who suffered and died in the past for our freedom.   
We are challenged with new opportunities to maintain the freedom of our future generation.

We Will Remember Them – Lest We Forget