Thursday, September 20, 2018

PM announces establishment of interim anti-corruption office

Prime Minister's Department

 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has announced that the National Executive Council has approved the re-establishment of an interim Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Office.

The NEC has further appointed  Thomas Eluh as the interim ICAC chairman for a period of 12 months.

“A truly functional and effective ICAC, that has real and independent authority, is essential for the good governance of our nation,” O'Neill.said.

“We have seen in the past when attempts to establish such an authority, that protects the public interest, has been politicised and undermined.

“We now have a fresh start with the interim Independent Commission Against Corruption led by a respected officer of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.”

NEC has directed Chief Secretary to Government.Isaac Lupari to provide all necessary support for  establishment of the Interim ICAC office that will report directly to the NEC on its operations.

All relevant files and assets of the former Investigation Task Force Sweep will now be transferred to the ICAC Interim Office.

 This includes the conduct of immediate investigations into the operation of PNGSDP Cloudy Bay investigation, the Community College Project, the National Agriculture Development Plan and other matters as directed by the NEC.

The Acting Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management has been directed to facilitate the appointment of the interim Chairman at Executive Level 4, which is the level of a Departmental Head.

 The   Acting    Secretary, in consultation with the Department of Prime Minister & NEC, will facilitate support to the Interim ICAC Office in the development of its Organisational and Management structures.

The Secretary for the Department of Treasury has been directed to allocate K6 million for the establishment of the Interim ICAC Office, to be obtained from savings made in the 2018 National Budget.

O’Neill said Eluh had a proven track record as a distinguished officer of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, and through law and order appointments in a number of roles.

“Thomas Eluh is a man of sound judgement, and has answered the call of national service as a highly effective Assistant Commissioner of Police, and in managing challenges such as those we have faced in the Southern Highlands province.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Australian High Commissioner visits East and West New Britain


Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis visited several project sites in West New Britain.

These included a new health facility and a cocoa rehabilitation project supported by the Australian Government during his visit to the province from Sept 13-18.

West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel, Talasea MP Francis Maneke and Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis with staff members of Malalia health clinic. 

Davis was joined by Governor Sasindran Muthuvel and Talasea MP Francis Maneke.

Talasea is one of six priority districts under
Australia’s decentralisation partnership with Papua New Guinea.

Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis with staff and students of Caritas Girls Technical Secondary School in Kimbe. 

 The delegation received a briefing on a new cocoa rehabilitation project under a
jointly-developed Kina Bungim Komuniti program. 

While in Talasea, the group also visited Mama’s Foundation Meri Seif Haus,
Caritas Girls Secondary School, Kimbe General Hospital, Mahonia na Dari
Marine Conservation Centre and remote health clinics at Valoka and Malalia.

Davis visited New Britain Palm Oil Ltd and Hargy Oil Palm.

He inspected processing facilities and a biofuel renewable energy project.

The delegates’ visit to the New Britain Palm Oil biofuel facility.

On Sept 13, Davis joined a PNG Independence Day reception in
Kimbe attended by Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.

On Sept 15, he visited the new Baia Community Health Post (CHP).

This facility will serve more than 4000 people living in the vicinity of Baia

At the Kimbe General Hospital. From left are Talasea MP Francis Maneke, West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel, Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis and West New Britain Director Public Health Dr Joseph Nale. 

The CHP will include specialist remote area medical facilities, a delivery and post-natal room, toilets and washing facilities and new staff housing.

Thirty-two CHPs are being constructed across Papua New Guinea under the
US$81.2 million Rural Primary Health Service Delivery Project (RPHSDP).

This initiative supports the Government of PNG’s long-term vision to transform the health system, especially to improve the health of rural populations.

Four CHPs are being delivered in West New Britain, at Baia, Vatukele, Wako and Akonga.

The RPHSDP is supported by Australia as a major contributor, as well as the Asian Development Bank, OPEC Fund for International Development, Japan
International Cooperation Agency and World Health Organisation.

Davis then travelled to East New Britain on Sept 16 where he was joined by Minister for Police and Gazelle MP Jelta Wong and
Governor Nakikus Konga.

Davis celebrated Independence Day in rural East New Britain with local communities at Pondo and Vunapalading in the
Gazelle district.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis (second right) and Police Minister and Gazelle MP Jelta Wong with other delegates, joined locals in the Gazelle District, East New Britain to celebrate Independence.

He congratulated all Papua New Guineans on the 43rd anniversary of Independence and highlighted the strength of Australia’s
enduring strategic and economic partnership with PNG, particularly in rural and remote parts of the country.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Another classroom falls from the sky

On December 23, 2010 the following obituary appeared in the New York Times.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Fred Hargesheimer, a World War II Army pilot whose rescue by Pacific islanders led to a life of giving back as a builder of schools and a teacher, died here Thursday. He was 94.

His death was confirmed by his son Richard.

On June 5, 1943, Mr Hargesheimer, a P-38 pilot with the Eighth Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, was shot down by a Japanese fighter while on a mission over the Japanese-held island of New Britain in the southwest Pacific. He parachuted into the jungle, where he barely survived for 31 days until local hunters found him.

They took him to their coastal village, and for seven months hid him from Japanese patrols, fed him and nursed him back to health. In February 1944, with the help of Australian commandos working behind Japanese lines, he was picked up by an American submarine off a New Britain beach.

After returning to the United States following the war, Mr Hargesheimer married and began a sales career with a Minnesota forerunner of the computer maker Sperry Rand, his lifelong employer. But he said he could not forget the Nakanai people, whom he considered his saviors. 

In 2004, Fred Hargesheimer visited students at a school he helped build in Papua New Guinea.

The more he thought about it, he later said, “the more I realized what a debt I had to try to repay.”

Wednesday September 12, 2018

75 years after he was shot down and rescued, and eight years after his death, the  Airmen’s Memorial Foundation established by Fred Hargesheimer is still honouring his legacy.

The latest act of benevolence came on Wednesday, Sept 12, 2018,   with a ground-breaking ceremony at Nantabu Village, the village where Fred Hargesheimer was sheltered and nursed back to health.

The ground-breaking is for new teachers’ housing at the village school, a project that will cost US$ 100,000.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Fred’s son Richard Hargesheimer who travelled from Lincoln, Nebraska to administer his late father’s legacy.

 Richard Hargesheimer and his wife Christy (centre) with children and teachers during the ground-breaking ceremony at Nantabu village. 

Speaking at the ceremony Richard Hargesheimer said:“It is a great honour to return once again to West New Britain to serve the people that saved my father’s life.

“75 years ago Fred Hargesheimer was shot down as the allied forces pursued world peace during the Second World War.

“War is never good, but good things do come from it, especially when it is in the pursuit of peace and freedom.

“My father wanted to repay the people, the Nakanai people who saved his life.

“He wanted to honour their kindness with kindness, and what better way to give than the gift of education.

‘So far the Airman’s Foundation has built classrooms and teachers’ accommodation in the villages of Ewasse and Noau.

“My father visited these schools and was always warmly welcomed, and I am sure he is with us now as once again we celebrate the special relationship between him and the Nakanai people.

“We have now come full circle, we are in Nantabu to perform a ground-breaking ceremony that will see the construction of teachers’ accommodation.”

Richard Hargesheimer also acknowledged the work of Hargy Oil Palms in administering and managing the work of the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation.

In a book released for Hargy Oil Palms’ 40th Anniversary, Richard Hargesheimer was interviewed by author Glenn Armstrong.

In the interview Richard said: “Without Hargy Oil Palms there would not be two schools, there wouldn’t be anything. The management of Hargy Oil Palms and their enthusiasm for what we were doing has been absolutely instrumental.

“The last two General Managers in particular – Graham King and Dave Mather – have simply been outstanding. Graham’s interest in education is almost unparalleled and David Mather was extraordinarily supportive – those were the two who I have been most closely connected to.

“They have been absolutely instrumental in seeing that those funds have been put to good use in terms of the school infrastructure, in a tropical area, with books and all other kinds of things, well after Fred’s passing.”

About Hargy Oil Palms

Hargy Oil Palms Limited held its first Annual General Meeting on April 28, 1978 and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the company based in Bialla, West New Britain.

Hargy Oil Palms Ltd provides direct employment to approximately 4500 people, with another 3700 smallholder families benefitting from our knowledge, processing and access to markets. More than 60,000 people are dependent on oil palm within the area served by Hargy Oil Palms.

Hargy Oil Palms’ social obligations includes schools such as those supported by the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation.

The company also recently completed new classrooms, teacher accommodation, a women’s resource centre and undercover basketball court at Pata-Painave Primary School, made possible by a K3.26 million grant from the PNG Incentive Fund, a jointly-managed program under the PNG-Australia Partnership.

Hargy Oil Palms gets its name from Lake Hargy, a volcanic caldera - a largely undisturbed montane, tropical-forest ecosystem in West New Britain.

Lake Hargy derives its name in turn from Major Fred Hargesheimer – the US Airman who was shot down in 1942 during World War 2 and was rescued by the people of Nantabu village. Fred Hargesheimer consequently established the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation to “give back” to the people that saved his life.

Fred Hargesheimer wrote a book about his experiences “The School that Fell from the Sky”, first published January 1, 2002.

The book is available on Amazon, rated 4.8 stars (out of 5 stars) with reviews and links to Amazon here:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

PM highlights importance of agriculture and tourism in Independence message

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has emphasised the importance of agriculture and tourism in his Independence Message.

He said this in his message themed 'Embracing the Future'.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill receiving a gift from East Sepik Governor Allan Bird in Wewak on Wednesday. He is flanked by Maprik MP John Simon, Civil Aviation Minister Alfred Manase and Police Minister Jelta Wong.

"Our country has products that the world wants and needs to buy," O'Neill said.

"This is not just our oil and gas resources, but we have renewable resources that are in high demand.

"Our agriculture sector should be the food bowl of the region.

"We have vast expanses of land, with rich fertile soil that is purely organic.

"We have some of the most amazing tourism sites that people from around the world want to visit.

"But all of this potential is worth nothing if we do not believe in ourselves.

"We must continue to invest in our nation and in our communities.

"This means building the roads that we need to transport our goods to market, to build the airports for our people to travel and to construct the schools that will educate the next generation.

"The only people who can deliver a stronger Papua New Guinea – are Papua New Guineans ourselves.

"As a country we have many friends who are helping us to advance, and we value this support, but we must do things for ourselves and chart our own course.

"We have to have confidence in our potential, we have to make firm decisions on our future and we have to stand by those decisions all the way.

"I give you every commitment, on behalf of our Government, that we will not let your down.

"Each and every day, we will continue to do our best to advance the interests of Papua New Guinea, and continue to deliver real change for our nation."

O'Neill said PNg must prepare its communities to adapt to changes in the modern world.

"This includes dealing with natural disasters brought about by climate change so we can protect our people," he said.

"We must better adapt to the evolving global economy, so that we not only insulate ourselves from economic shocks – but we must take advantage of economic opportunity for our people."

A very special day for Lae

Lest We Forget:September 16 2018 is the 75th anniversary of the recapture of Lae by Australian troops in 1943 from the Japanese. 

This makes this year's Independence celebrations in Lae very special. 

We hope Australia, Papua New Guinea, Lae and Morobe will make that day a memorable one. 

Our young people must know the rich and colourful history of our hometown. 

A place with no past has no future. 

Below is the article in The National Weekender of Sept 14  on the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Lae on Sept 16, and Salamaua on Sept 11 (please click to enlarge)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Treasurer Charles Abel returns from sovereign bond roadshow

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Charles Abel returned to Port Moresby yesterday after leading the international roadshow to market Papua New Guinea's inaugural (first ever) sovereign bond.

The DPM and delegation covered Singapore, Hong Kong, London, New York, Boston and Los Angeles in 10 days.

The PNG delegation (right) at one of the meetings

 In a packed schedule arranged by global lead coordinator Credit Suisse and joint bookrunners Citibank the delegation presented to around 100 global banks and fund managers at seven meetings per city.

"Our international partners have done a fantastic job in arranging meeting and providing advice," Abel said.

"The interest has been really good with full meetings including all the major players.

"Everyone is interested in the PNG story.

"The market for emerging market or frontier market bonds has been rattled recently by the Turkey and Argentina economic problems but we believe PNG has a strong case regardless.

"We are looking at a five year or 10-year benchmark minimum issue of US$500m.

"This is the minimum amount to qualify for the Emerging Market Bond Index and facilitate participation in the secondary market after issuance.

"Now that the roadshow is concluded we will field offers for amounts and pricing (interest rates) before making a final decision to sell the bonds.

"Of the potential proceeds, $200m will go into operation and capital costs and $300m will convert short term (less than 12 months) domestic debt into long term debt.

"This will better balance our loan book and bring in foreign exchange.

"PNG will be looking to establish its brand and yield curve in the international market for the future.

"Since the 2017 Supplementary Budget our Government through the 25 Point Plan has put revenue to GDP on an upward path from 12 per cent of GDP to 16 per cent.

"Fiscal deficits are in a downward trajectory from 6 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

"Debt to GDP is a prudent level of 32 per cent.

" International reserves are stabilised at US$1.7 billion, being 10 months of non mining import cover, and the forex market is coming back to balance. 

"We are working on constraining our wage bill and interest costs.

"Oil prices are recovering well and we are negotiating the Papua LNG, Pynyang LNG and Wafi Golpu projects.

"There are good times ahead for PNG if we remained focused and work hard."

Abel was accompanied by Governor of the Central Bank Loi Bakani, Secretary for Treasury Dairi Vele, Vice Minister and Tambul Nebilyer MP Win Daki and Finschhafen MP Rainbo Paita.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

PNG - Australia partnership supports local road maintenance contractors

Australian High Commission

Small and medium sized businesses are crucial to the delivery of maintenance on Papua New Guinea’s national road network. 

Australia is continuing to work with the Department of Transport, Department of Works, National Roads Authority, and the Department of Commerce and Industry to strengthen the local contracting industry.

During a series of Australian sponsored workshops in Mt Hagen and Madang last week, Kia Gorabi from the Department of Commerce and Industry Construction Industry Unit reflected on the challenges and opportunities for SMEs in the road sector.

Participants of the workshops recently held in Mt Hagen and Madang.

“The government relies on local contractors to deliver essential work. 

"It’s great to be able to provide support to small businesses on the ground. 

"These workshops have focused on improving understanding of technical, financial, business, and contractual aspects of work in the road sector.

“Road works provide jobs for a range of skill levels in communities along the highways. 

"Good roads are vital for the private sector and act as a catalyst for economic growth.”

Amex Sipatu works for a small contractor that has been operating for seven years.

 “Running a road contracting business is complex and competitive. 

"This workshop has helped me to improve my operations and understand how to grow my business and avoid the most common pitfalls.

“I also enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the challenges with officials from government departments in our sector,” Amex said.

Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Benedict David was pleased that Australia was able to support these workshops. 

“Our focus on maximising opportunities for local contractors and communities is a big part of our support for infrastructure development in Papua New Guinea.

“Many of these projects are delivered by Papua New Guinea businesses and these workshops are an important way to maximise local participation in the development of growth enabling infrastructure,” David said. 

In partnership with Australia through the Transport Sector Support Program, the Department of Works delivered more than K60 million worth of road maintenance works in 2017. 

These works were delivered by 70 different local contractors.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

ADB inaugurates new office in PNG as partnership expands | September 12, 2018

PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (12 September 2018) — Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill joined Asian Development Bank (ADB) Pacific Department Director General Carmela Locsin and ADB Country Director for Papua New Guinea (PNG) David Hill in inaugurating the new premises of ADB’s PNG Resident Mission today.

Country Director of ADB’s Papua New Guinea Resident Mission David Hill, Prime Minister of PNG Peter O’Neill, and Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department, Carmela Locsin.

“ADB has been our strong development partner since 1971,” said O’Neill.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill

“For almost 50 years now, we have worked together to improve transport infrastructure, expand access to renewable energy and health services, and raise living standards for the people of Papua New Guinea.”

ADB’s PNG Resident Mission assists the government in implementing its Development Strategic Plan 2010–2030.

Country Director of ADB’s Papua New Guinea Resident Mission David Hill

ADB’s support is guided by its Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) with PNG for 2016–2020, which focuses on removing infrastructure bottlenecks and barriers to job and business creation in the country.

“ADB’s Papua New Guinea Resident Mission has boosted our responsiveness, allowed us to better align our programs to those of the government, and enabled us to expand our cooperation with other development partners,” said Locsin.

“We are now implementing about $1.8 billion worth of projects and programs with the government.”

PNG is home to both the largest population and economy in the Pacific subregion.

In 2017, gross domestic product reached $23.1 billion and the country’s population was about 8.2 million. PNG recorded its 9th consecutive year of economic growth in 2017.

ADB works with the Government of PNG to improve transport infrastructure, renewable energy, health, water and other urban infrastructure, and public sector management.

 The PNG government has also placed emphasis on environmental sustainability, private sector development, gender equity, and knowledge management.

For instance, the ADB-supported PNG Health Services Sector Development Program combines a policy-based operation and project financing to support sector reforms and investments in PNG, enabling long-term sustainability and effective use of the country’s health sector financing.

The program will support the delivery of accessible, affordable, and high-quality health services in PNG.

The ADB-supported Civil Aviation Development Investment Program is connecting people, goods, and essential services across PNG’s most challenging terrain.
 The project is strengthening the country’s land and air aviation infrastructure while improving safety and security in 21 national airports.

ADB is helping the government increase access to clean and reliable electricity by working with PNG Power to build renewable generation assets, expand transmission and distribution networks, connect new users to the grid, and boost grid efficiency.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.

Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.

 In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.

New infrastructure for Buna Village, NorthernProvince

 Australian High Commission

Residents of Buna Village in Northern Province have celebrated the opening of a new double classroom and a new health centre. 

Buna school children stand in front of the new double classroom

The infrastructure was delivered jointly by the Australian Government – through the Kokoda Initiative – and the No Roads Foundation, with specific contributions from other partners.

New double classroom in Buna village

Representatives from the Australian High Commission, No Roads Foundation, Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) and local and provincial authorities gathered to inaugurate the new buildings on Sept 10, along with representatives from the local community and some Kokoda trekkers.

Special guests and 12 medical volunteers from Australia in front of the new Buna Community Health Centre

Counsellor Alistair McEachern from the Australian High Commission told locals the new facilities highlighted Australia’s commitment to the ongoing development of the Kokoda Track and surrounding areas.

New Buna Community Health Centre

“Given Buna’s unique connection to Australia during WWII, the Australian Government is now supporting the community with education and health facilities delivered under the Kokoda Initiative in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea.”

The new double classroom completes the Australian Government’s K10 million package of education infrastructure delivered across the Kokoda Track corridor to honour the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign. 

The package included eight fully-furnished double classrooms, five upgraded classroom buildings, and nine new staff houses, across Central and Northern provinces.

The new facility will replace the existing health centre, which covers 12 catchments with a population of up to 7000 people. 

The old centre was too small to cope with the growing healthcare needs of the local community, so the new centre is both timely and necessary.

KTF has provided funds to support a health officer at the previous facility for a number of years and will continue to support the new centre. 

Rodney Hart Wakei is the current officer-in-charge and has been working at the old health centre since 2012.

“This new building will encourage more patients to access the health facility each day, including women giving birth. 

"I really appreciate the donor agencies for the genuine support they’ve provided to the Buna community.”

After running tours along the Kokoda Track for many years, Andrew Grasby from the No Roads Foundation said basic health infrastructure and services were critical to the well-being of Kokoda communities.

“Local people often live in remote and isolated areas, with limited access to health services. 

"For this reason, we are proud to support the building of the health centre in Buna and provide health services to communities today.”

No Roads Foundation also sponsored 12 medical volunteers from Australia to support the set-up of the health facility and run a community health clinic after the opening. 

Rotary Australia also provided funding and donated the health centre’s ward beds, wheelchair and other key medical equipment.