Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CPL launches multi- media advertising drive


CITY Pharmacy Ltd Group, Papua New Guinea’s biggest retail network, last night launched its new advertising campaign, which will run on television, radio and newspapers, at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby and features company staff, The National reports.
The range of CPL advertisements at the Gateway Hotel last night.-Picture by MALUM NALU

 This followed just two weeks after it announced a profit before tax of K21.86 million for last year, a 62.77% increase from the K13.43 million it recorded in 2010.
Group chairman Mahesh Patel told The National the whole advertising campaign covered what CPL stood for “because it makes everyone proud”.
 “That’s why we want to show the everyday life of someone who works for CPL,” he said.
 “I think the CPL ad shows that.
 “It’s a very proud moment, a good feeling.”
Sri Lankan Sen Ekanayake, who was involved in the production of the advertisements, said it took more than 12 months to finish everything.
“It took more than 12 months to produce from start to finish, and involved more than 200 people who were involved in it, especially everyday Papua New Guineans working for Stop ‘N’ Shop,” he said.
 “It was shot in Port Moresby, in the shops and villages, involving ordinary Papua New Guinean lifestyle.
“What we found was the loyalty to Stop ‘N’ Shop, which we tried to capture on the footage.”
Its City Pharmacy and Stop ‘N’ Shop stores recorded good sales growth last year.
The CPL Group is PNG’s biggest retail work.
It has established five strong retail brands – City Pharmacy, Stop ‘N’ Shop, Hardware Haus, BonCafe and HomeMaker.
Last week, it opened Paradise Cinema – PNG’s very first multiplex cinema.
CPL group employs  more than 2,000 workers, of which 95% are Papua New Guineans.
Last year, the CPL Group had a combined retail operations of 54 stores nationwide which employ more than  2,000 staff, of whom 95% are Papua New Guineans.
Its retail network spanned health and beauty chains, grocery, hardware stores, coffee shops and now a multiplex cinema.

Steamships profit surges to K158 million

By BRIAN GOMEZ in Sydney

STEAMSHIPS Trading Co Ltd announced yesterday a record after-tax profit of K158.3 million for the 2011 calendar year, up 35.9%, after total revenues rose 16.5% to K920.4 million, The National reports.
 In its preliminary final report to the Australian Stock Exchange, Steamships said capital expenditure by the group totalled K231.3 million last year compared with K190.4 million in 2010.
Directors reported that after-tax profits surged in the second-half of the year to K93.7 million from K64.5 million in the first-half versus K59.5 in the second-half last year and K57 million in the first half of 2010.
Encouraged by the big profit growth, directors announced a final dividend of 140 toea a share in addition to the interim dividend of 50 toea to take the total dividend to 190 toea compared with 100 toea per share in 2010.
Steamships shares yesterday rose A$0.75 or 3.09% to A$25 a share.
The group’s hotel and property division was the top profit earner, recording an after-tax profit of K84.6 million compared with K56.9 million in 2010.
Steamships' new luxury hotel in Port Moresby, the 20-storey Grand Papua Hotel, was opened at the end of 2011.-Picture by MALUM NALU

The group’s shipping and logistics operations, which fell from being the top profit earner in 2010 to second position last year, had an after tax profit of K77.4 million versus K70.8 million in 2010.
However, the logistics division continued to enjoy the greatest revenue at K461.3 million last year compared with K222 million for hotels and property with comparative figures for 2010 standing at K397.8 million and K175.2 million in 2010.
The finance and investment division enjoyed a major turnaround with a net profit of K1.14 million compared with a loss of K3.2 million in 2010.
Directors said the PNG economy continued to grow and the company’s investment strategy, which remains on track this year, “is evolving to benefit from this growth”.
“2012 presents additional challenges with a general election in the second half of the year, but we remain confident and committed to the future development of Papua New Guinea,” they said.
Comments on divisional performance included:
  • Logistics – Shipping performed well with satisfactory growth that mirrored economic growth with increased activity in both PNG’s mining and non-mining sectors;
  • Property and hotels – Revenue was up as the group capitalised on the PNG property boom with high occupancy rates at commercial and residential properties throughout PNG with some concern with oversupply in 2012 and beyond. Coral Seas Hotels had a good year with some concern about the numbers of hotel rooms that have come onto the market in a relatively short period of time; and
  • Commercial Division – Laga Industries had a strong year on the back of sector-wide growth with an increase in sales and profits and the successful launch of a number of new products.
Directors said Steamships remained committed to the principles of sustainable development and would continue to promote community engagement initiatives and work on ways to minimise the company’s environmental footprint

Trawen: We are ready for June polling


ELECTORAL Commissioner Andrew Trawen has reassured the nation that the general election will be held as scheduled in June, The National reports.
 He will advise Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio to issue the writs of election on April 27 and for polling to start on June 23.
He spoke out yesterday after Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah suggested a re-scheduling of the election because of various factors, most prominent of which is the delay in the updating of electoral rolls. The matter was discussed at length last Friday in parliament.
Trawen clarified that any change to the election schedule would come from the electoral commission.
He brushed aside statements in the media that the electoral rolls were not ready and that the government planned to defer the election by six months.
He said the electoral commissioner, police and the Defence Force would advise government if there was going to be any deferment.
“As the electoral commissioner, I now assure the people of PNG that the election will proceed as schedule as required under section 105(a) of the Constitution,’’ he said.
“To delay or defer the election is unconstitutional as section 105(1)(a) of the Constitution and the Organic Law on national and local level government elections will then have to be amended.”
The Constitution [section 105(1)(a)] stated that “a general election to parliament shall be held within a period of three months before the fifth anniversary of the day fixed for the return of the writ for the previous general election”.
The commission would ensure this constitution requirement is met, Trawen said.
He admitted that there were a few hiccups in the electoral roll update but about 75% of the process had been completed.
Completed electoral rolls had been dispatched to the respective electorates for public display and objections.
He reiterated that all rolls would be ready before the issue of writs on April 27.
The planning, preparation and conduct of the election is the sole constitutional duty of the electoral commission every five years.
Trawen was confident of completing the rolls on time and deliver another successful election in June.
“We are doing our best to get the electoral roll completed, especially for the highlands and will deliver a credible roll for PNG to go to the election.
“I think it is important for everyone to understand what the electoral commission is doing with the electoral roll because there is a lot of misinformation out there at present,” he said.
There are 6,789 wards in PNG and his office had received 4,983 of the ward list.
Although data for the highlands was slow, it was expected to progressively come in for processing over the next two weeks, Trawen said.
He said the preliminary roll for the seven highlands provinces and Manus would be displayed for objection in early April before the issue of writs

Canberra backs election schedule


AUSTRALIA wants the PNG 2012 general election to take place as scheduled, The National reports. This is the first time Australia has entered the debate on deferral of elections and indicates the seriousness with which PNG’s  strongest supporter and neighbour views the issue.
A spokesman for the High Commission in Port Moresby said yesterday  Australia was willing to increase its present assistance to the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission if that would help the commission to deliver the elections on time.
The timetable is for writs to be issued on April 27, nominations to open on May 4, polling to start on June 23, polling to end July 6 and for the return of writs on July 27.
 “Australia is soon going to provide further advisory support for (common) roll integrity and quality assurance,” the High Commission spokesman said.
 “We want to emphasise that Australia will provide PNGEC with additional support to go ahead with its timelines. That is our core focus.”
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and PNG Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen yesterday
reaffirmed separately that the election would be conducted as scheduled.
O’Neill said there was a genuine concern about the integrity of the common roll and to address this, his government had approached the United Nations to conduct an independent audit into the commission’s state of readiness to conduct the elections.
A submission would go before cabinet this week and the United Nations team would be tasked to report back before parliament next meets on March 22.
Australia provided A$12 million for capacity building in the PNGEC between last year and this year.
It  more recently provided 30 high-powered computers which are operating around the clock in updating the common roll.
It had also assigned a deputy election operations director, a logistics officer, an air transport coordinator, a police coordination adviser and two helicopters for the PNG Defence Force election response force to help with the general election beginning in April.
On the plan to introduce a bio-metric system for PNG, the High Commission spokesman said: “This is for Papua New Guinea to consider, but Australia would not support the introduction of bio-metric identification of voters in Papua New Guinea for this election.
“No electoral body, including the PNG Electoral Commission, has the capacity to develop, plan and implement a nationally consistent and trusted ID card system so close to an election.
“We estimate such as system would take up to five years to implement.
“It would be technically complex and require significant resources.”

Lawyer: Poll deferral illegal

MEMBERS of parliament cannot defer the 2012 general election, a constitutional lawyer says, The National reports.
 Dr John Nonggorr said only the Electoral Commission could decide on any change in the election timetable.
“MPs will not have the mandate to be legislators even a day beyond the five-year term,” he stated.
“Any attempt to do this will be undemocratic.”
He pointed out that the election must be held not a day later than the fifth anniversary of the return of writs.
Nonggorr also warned that any confidence in the election process would be eroded if MPs with self-interests make decisions which benefited them directly.
He also suggested that the proposal to use technology such as bio-metrics would eventually prove detrimental to the integrity of the election if the people have no confidence in the process.
He said the danger inherent in the use of the technology was for politicians and their cronies to make millions of kina.
“Technology will also be used to manipulate the election results to their benefit unless there is sufficient preparation and ample skills and experience to thwart those with evil intent.”
The Australian High Commission said there was no capacity to introduce the bio-metrics system, saying it would take up to five years to establish it properly.
Nonggorr supported keeping Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen as it was too close to the election to make any changes, as suggested in some circles of government.
A government lawyer said the only way parliament could defer the election was if there was a state of emergency occasioned by a war.
“At present, there are no conditions present in PNG to declare a war and, therefore, there cannot be a state of emergency,” he said.
“Elections can, therefore, not legally be deferred.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Somare: Stick to election schedule


GOVERNMENT’S proposal to postpone the election found ready opponents yesterday who say there are no valid reasons to support such a move, The National reports.
 Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah floated the idea on the weekend, saying updating the electoral roll was behind schedule and the introduction of a bio-metric-based voting system would need six months to implement.
But deposed prime minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, the Trade Union Congress and non-governmental agency Transparency International felt that the explanation was flimsy at best.
Sir Michael said the news should not come as a surprise to people of Papua New Guinea.
“The move is consistent with the string of other actions by the O’Neill-Namah regime since taking office illegally on Aug 2 last year.
 “Knowing that the election cannot be deferred they will have to suspend the Constitution.”
He said the people of Papua New Guinea must stop listening to their reasons for continually violating the standing orders of parliament; the Personnel Management Act and the Constitution.
 “We cannot allow the elections to be deferred or the Constitution to be suspended.
 “I call on O’Neill and Namah to go to the election and prove your legitimacy.
“You cannot defer the elections. In the interest of the people of Papua New Guinea the elections must go ahead,” Sir Michael said.
TUC general secretary John Paska said the congress strongly opposed the government’s intention to postpone the 2012 general election.
 “It is very disturbing to hear of reports of the O’Neill government faction’s intention to postpone the election.
“There just isn’t any credible justification to do so,” Paska said.
Paska, from Kavieng, New Ireland province, said there could be justifiable reasons to postpone election in the Southern Highlands province out of fear of violence but the rest of the country remained peaceful and keen to exercise their right to choose a legitimate government.
“These invaluable rights cannot be held to ransom by the un-preparedness of one or two provinces.”
The congress had consulted national and provincial electoral officers as well as the police who had said they were prepared to conduct the election.
 “So where is this preposterous idea coming from?”
Paska said serious constitutional questions still remained unresolved over the legitimacy of the government.
“This latest gimmick cuts deeply into the constitutional rights of the people of PNG, giving rise to the perception that the O’Neill faction is predisposed to reshape and bend the Constitution any which way they choose to suit their ends.
“It cannot and must not be tolerated under any circumstances.
“We condemn it in the strongest possible terms and call on the Opposition and MPs not to support it,” Paska said.
Transparency International PNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said: “We have the experience of eight elections and the efforts of a large number of good people behind the preparations for the coming election.
“We view with the greatest concern suggestions that we should delay the elections scheduled to commence on June 23.
“The people of Papua New Guinea know that it is their right to vote for their representatives now.
“They know that the thought of hanging onto public office for a little longer is very attractive to those about to face the judgement of their electorates.
“It is too easy to say we are not prepared for the election and use this as an excuse to stay in power longer.
 “It appears to us that we are, once again, witnessing MPs looking for a way to exempt themselves from facing the consequences of their actions.
“TI PNG is reliably informed that the electoral rolls are as ready as they have ever been and possibly more so.
“It is extremely disappointing to hear that MPs are deliberately creating fear with the impression that we are less prepared than we have been in the past.

Wewak at standstill as 9 suspects nabbed


THE East Sepik capital Wewak came to a standstill yesterday as fear spread of more trouble following the killing of Wewak police chief Snr Insp Charles Parinjo, The National reports.
 By midday, all shops, businesses and government offices had closed as police announced that they had picked up nine suspects – one on the night of the killing on Saturday and eight at 2am yesterday.
Public transport also stopped running in fear of retaliation from aggrieved relatives.
Provincial police commander Snr Insp Vincent Pokas said the nine suspects were detained at an undisclosed area for safety reasons.
Police believed the killing was premeditated and called on the residents of the Kaindi area, where the killing took place, to cooperate with police by handing in other suspects and offering information that will enable a successful conviction.
Pokas described Parinjo as a “no-nonsense and a disciplined officer” whose sudden death had left a gap for police in East Sepik province
He said Parinjo had initiated a number of projects for East Sepik police, including the K10 million Yawasoro police housing project, the new Wewak police station, Nuigo police barracks and was in the process of erecting a new Angoram police station when he was killed.
East Sepik Governor Peter Wararu wants to ban the sale of alcohol in the province for six months following a rise in liquor-related lawless activities in the province, including the death of Parinjo.
He told a gathering at Kain­di YC hall yesterday that even though alcohol contributed K1.1 million in revenue, there was no other way out of the increasing law and order problems.
Former Northern divisional police commander Giossi Labi yesterday expressed his sympathy to the young officer’s family, and urged the Madang, East Sepik and Sandaun (West Sepik) provincial governments to impose a ban on alcohol.
 “Human lives are irreplaceable and losing a human life in such situation is not on,” he said.
“I strongly condemn the killing. We can no longer entertain liquor for the sake of making money without educating consumers to avoid causing disturbance to the communities.
“If liquor is alleged to be the cause of his death, Madang, East Sepik and West Sepik provinces need to consider imposing a liquor ban. If Morobe can do it, why not the others?”
Labi had at one stage appointed Parinjo as Angoram police station commander.
He was later appointed as Wewak police station commander.
The East Sepik Ministers Fraternal had planned a three-day pray and fast programme star­ting today for peace in the pro­vince.

Kintau defends NAC operations


NATIONAL Airports Corporation managing director Joe Kintau has denied allegations levelled against the company by Deputy Prime minister Belden Namah, The National reports.
 Kintau said the corporation did not like being threatened and intimidated by Namah and PNG Party president Robert Akunai, who gave the company a seven-day ultimatum to provide records of its operations.
“Before I refute all these allegations, I acknowledge the high office of the deputy prime minister and do not want to be seen as in contempt. I am not challenging anyone,” Kintau said.
“I just want a fair hearing as a result of these allegations spreading around regarding NAC as we believe we have not broken any laws.
“We do not support intimidation and appeal to the DPM and civil aviation minister to recognise that this is a professional organisation and everything is regulated by the governing Acts.”
Namah and Akunai last week called for an investigation into the NAC for alleged misconduct, misuse of funds, nepotism, illegal lease of state land, illegal awarding of contracts and the setting up of the Airport City Development Ltd.
Kintau said he would meet the seven-day ultimatum.
He said the important issue was that since 2009, the NAC had been intimidated by parliamentarians regarding the NAC-owned aerodrome lands.
“We having been fighting for awhile but I want to say that the aerodrome lands cannot be sold, unless specifically stated under the Aerodrome Act.
“These are internal matters and processes have been in place to monitor this.
“So I believe that the land may be the real issue here, which we are planning to use commercially under the Airport City Development Ltd concept,” he said.
Kintau said the concept was a strategic commercial plan to generate a revenue base to supplement that which was received from Air Niugini, which paid for over 90% of NAC’s operational costs.
“ACDL is 100% NAC-owned. It will be responsible for buildings, security and other airport development in this concept, but all land will remain with the NAC.
“This is a business strategy to reduce the risk on our core asset, and we believe we have not breached any laws on this issue,” he said.

Polye vows to find ‘missing’ K129 million

TREASURY Minister Don Polye yesterday promised an investigation into the disbursement of K129 million in landowner funds outside government approved processes, The National reports.
 Polye, who had the Finance portfolio stripped from him yesterday, said in a statement that since 2010, the government had placed aside K120 million a year under infrastructure development grants or a total K360 million to date. But K129 million has been paid, without sanction, by the expenditure implementation committee or central supply and tenders board.
“This is unlawful and will be investigated,” he said.
The government is con­tracted with landow­ners, provincial governments and local level governments impacted by the PNG LNG project to provide K1.2 billion over 10 years for new infrastructure and maintenance or rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.
These project grants were for infrastructure and not to be handed out in cash to landowners, the minister said.
The EIC is to process and implement the IDG projects, specifically to fund infrastructure in the four affected pro­vinces – Southern Highlands, Central, Gulf
and Western.
Polye said ministers, department secretaries, provincial governors and provincial administrators did not have any authority to pick the projects for these funds to be expended on.
That is the job of the EIC which is the sole authority charged with this responsibility.
The EIC is made up of the secretaries of National Planning and Monitoring, Petroleum and Energy, Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs, Works, affected provincial administrators and the project deve­loper.
All projects approved by the EIC that were in excess of K300,000 would need central supply and tenders board approval to comply with the Public Finances Management act, Polye said.
“IDG is not a cash benefit. I implore landow­ners to respect our laws and the UBSA which their representatives sign­ed and not to coerce the national government into doing illegal things by physical threats,” he said.
“We need to break with the past. K129 million has already been released from the IDG funds but no infrastructure has been delivered.
“This is wrong both in law and importantly, for me, morally.

Treasurer Don Polye loses powers

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday removed all financial powers from major coalition partner Don Polye, The National reports.
 Polye, who leads the new Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party and who was instrumental in putting O’Neill in power, was until yesterday Finance and Treasury Minister.
Today he is vested with Treasury, Border Development and a sprinkling of statutory institutions.
In a letter, O’Neill informed Polye that his removal stemmed from recent events concerning the payout of landowner funds and also cited “runaway expenditure” in the Department of Finance.
Polye only last week assured frustrated gas and oil landowners in Port Moresby that they would be paid their Infrastructure Development Grants (IDG) but only after all necessary government processes had been completed.
Last Friday, the landowners converged on Morauta Haus, which houses the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, to vent their frustration again.
“These project grants are to fund infrastructure projects such as public roads, bridges, schools, clinics, hospitals and so forth,” Polye had said.
“These funds are not cash handouts to landowners but are specifically grants made to those pro­vinces and local level governments affected by the PNG LNG project.”
Polye yesterday revealed that at least K129 million in IDG funds had been disbursed outside approved processes.
He said this was unlawful and promised an investigation.
Polye’s statement did not appease the prime minister who said in his letter on the decision to relieve him of financial powers:
“This decision is in light of complaints in relation to various landowner funds as per the state’s responsibilities and commitments under the Oil and Gas Act and UBSA (umbrella benefits sharing agreement) and various LBBSAs (licensed-based benefits sharing agreements) under the PNG LNG Agreement.
“Furthermore, the continuing lack of ability by the department and ministry of finance to contain expenditure overruns outside of the budget appropriations has not aba­ted since I wrote to you last,” O’Neill said.
“This decision is taken in the best interest of the government.”
Polye is now the minister for Treasury and Border Development, the latter role having been
removed from the ministry of Inter-Government Relation and District Deve­lopment.
O’Neill said last night the measure was temporary to resolve the pressing landowner issues and runaway expenditure.
But he did not indicate when the Finance portfolio would be returned to Polye.
He also hinted that a major reshuffle was imminent

Monday, February 27, 2012

State may defer poll


THE government is considering postponing the 2012 general election by at least six months to ensure the common roll update is completed, deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah said, The National reports.
 It will also allow election officials time to put in place a bio-metric voting system to ensure a fair and just election.
Namah told a media conference yesterday that Enga Governor Peter Ipatas, Madang regional MP Sir Arnold Amet and Western Highlands Governor Tom Olga had accepted that the electoral roll was incomplete.
“There will be a failed election and the government will take a position on the deferral. We will introduce a bio-metric system using electronic voting to save costs,” he said.
It will take up to six months to have the electronic system in place and the government, through parliament, will decide on March 20, when parliament resumes.
“Now we will have to make wider consultations to seek views of all stakeholders on the next course of action – to delay the election or not,” Namah said.
Parliament last Friday dedicated the session to debating a statement to the House on the preparation for the general election presented by the leader of government business, Moses Maladina.
The government questioned the report by Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen on the election preparation that the electoral roll “is about 60% complete, meaning 2.4 million of PNG’s four million adults are eligible voters”.
Maladina told parliament that 40% of the common roll update was incomplete for the highlands provinces, especially the new Jiwaka province, Enga and Western Highlands.
“I have since received independent reports that this is not correct,” Maladina said.
“Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) the electoral commissioner admitted that there were some ‘pockets’ within the regions (Southern, New Guinea Islands and Momase) which were incomplete.”
Maladina said he had received independent reports that electoral rolls for the nation’s 89 open electorates had not been returned to many electorates.
In response to the report, tabled in parliament but not yet available to the public, Maladina gave a six-month approximate deadline for the introduction of bio-metric technology.
It identifies people through a characteristic unique to them, such as fingerprint. The system had been considered by the government of Sir Michael Somare following allegations of voter fraud in the 2007 election.
“This government has now re-engaged with the Indian government and entered into an agreement with the Indian Unique Identification Authority to establish a bio-metric identification scheme in PNG,” he said.
“On current estimates, it will take at least six months for a bio-metric system to be put in place.”
Former attorney-general Sir Arnold told the chamber he would consider supporting a temporary suspension of the election if it meant that they would be free and fair.
Sir Arnold said he would be supporting a bi-partisan push to suspend the election.
“Forty per cent (unregistered voters) at this point is grossly unacceptable,” he said.
“It may be in the nation’s interest that the election be deferred for an appointed time.

Parinjo killed in mob attack


WEWAK police station commander Snr Insp Charles Parinjo was allegedly killed when he confronted a drunken mob obstructing traffic while on his way home last Saturday night, The National reports.
 The mob was obstructing traffic at a section of the West Coast highway at Kaindi and, in a bid to disperse them, Parinjo was attacked and killed.
He was heading home to Boikin village when the incident happened between 8pm and 8.30p“During the confrontation with the mob, Parinjo was hit by a PMV and dragged for several metres before being left to die,” East Sepik provincial law and order chairman Timothy Wani said.
Parinjo was rushed to the hospital by lawyer Michael S Wagambie.
An examination at Wewak General Hospital revealed Parinjo, who was pronounced dead on arrival, had suffered multiple injuries to his body.
Tension was high in the area yesterday as police sought out the suspects, Wani said.
He said police had burned down several houses near the scene of the killing.
A suspect was in custody while the search is continuing for others involved in the officer’s death.
Police from Aitape and Vanimo townships joined their Wewak counterparts in the manhunt yesterday.
Wani denounced the killing of the young senior officer who had stood “by the books” to enforce law and order without fear or favour.
“He was a respected policeman. He had done a lot in a short time to improve working conditions for police in the province,” he said.
“His killing should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
Wagambie, who was travelling with a group of people to Wewak from Hawaiin, said Parinjo’s death had happened near a local club that sold alcohol.
The group was confronted by a man armed with an iron rod when they stopped the vehicle.
The man was pulled away by bystanders who told Wagambie and his group to assist Parinjo.
Wagambie’s group put the injured Parinjo into their vehicle and took him to hospital.
Wagambie said the community’s failure to curb alcohol, homebrew and consumption of illicit drugs was behind many of the country’s problems.
“Homebrew particularly is the problem in communities. Failure to contain its production and consumption has resulted in violence, conflicts, deaths and related issues,” he said

Kintau: National Airports Corporation owns firm


THE Airport City Development Ltd (ACDL), a company tasked to develop the airports, is wholly owned by the National Airports Corporation (NAC), its managing director Joseph Kintau has clarified, The National reports.
 The company was set up to generate revenue for the corporation and its constitution specifically restricts any persons or entities from owning shares in it.
Kintau says comments in the media regarding the company are misleading and do not truly reflect its activities.
At the moment, he said that the corporation generates almost 90% of its income from one source, putting the entire operation at risk should anything happen to that source.
“By creating the airport city concept, we are diversifying the revenue base to create a safety net.’’
To create this “safety net”, the corporation had to identify which of its assets would generate enough income to sustain all its operations.
“We have more than 300ha of land in Port Moresby alone, and that is the basic concept of the ACDL – to develop a commercial infrastructural centre for other commercial activities such as housing, hotels, service apartments and entertainment areas.
“In Nadzab, we have more than 700ha and also in Tokua, where the concept will be started.
“That is what we and ACDL are doing and not as claimed in the media.”
He also believes that the involvement of Robert Akunai, as president of the PNG Party, in the corporation’s operations has “politicised the process”.
Kintau says the staff attempted to take over the corporation’s management.
“I am told that this was endorsed allegedly by Akunai as he is now in the process of getting NEC’s endorsement to appoint one of the junior staff who is being disciplined for misappropriation and misuse of monies, as managing director of NAC,” he said.
“We advise that he must immediately stop interfering with NAC operational matters,” he said.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Elections like to be deferred

The 2012 general elections are likely to be deferred because the Electoral Commission is behind schedule in its prerations, the Sunday Chronicle reports.
The commission itself admitted in a meeting with Members of Parliament last week that 40% of the country was yet to be brought to a level of preparedness for the polls, prompting criticisms from MPs and calls for the sacking of Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen.
Minister for State assisting the Prime Minister, Waka Goiye, last Friday presented a report highlighting the problems with the common roll update, and the failure by the commission to try and introduce innovative technology to overcome problems associated with the common roll and voting.
In the report, Trawen expressed confidence that they should be able to carry out the elections successfully despite lack of preparedness.
But Trawen came under a barrage of criticism for this.
Led by deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Forests and Climate Change, Belden Namah, both sides of the house criticised the commission for its failure to prepare the national well in advance for this important once-in-give years democratic exercise.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kimbe Queen ordered off PNG waters

THE passenger ferry mv Kimbe Queen has been ordered into dry dock for inspection by National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) officers after it ran aground on Wednesday.
The inter-island vessel will be allowed to resume operation once the inspectors say it is safe to do, NMSA chief executive officer Chris Rupen said.
“A stop order has been put on the vessel not to operate until inspections are completed and NMSA is satisfied that the vessel is safe to resume operations,” Rupen said.
The vessel ran aground on a reef in Bialla waters off West New Britain on Wednesday morning while sailing from Rabaul to Lae. It had 34 passengers on board.
It was refloated during that same day and then sent to Rabaul with just the crew on board for the NMSA inspection.
Rabaul Shipping legal officer Jaclyn Maribu confirmed in a telephone interview that shipowner Peter Sharp was disappointed with the latest incident. Sharp had flown to the scene in a helicopter on Wednesday.
The vessel’s grounding came just 20 days after sister ferry mv Rabaul Queen sank in bad weather off the coast of Finschhafen, Morobe, with the loss of about 200 lives. More than 180 passengers are still missing.
It led to three of the company vessels being held at Buka wharf, Bougainville, by relatives of the survivors and victims of the mv Rabaul Queen disaster days later.
The three vessels are the Solomon Queen, Kopra and Kopra Four.
Maribu said the vessels were still at Buka and the locals wanted K350,000 before they could release them.
With the company’s fleet reduced in number by five, it raises questions over its ability to provide a vital service that thousands of Papua New Guineans depend on daily.
Rupen said the mv Kimbe Queen would be out of commission until his officers completed their inspection.
He said the vessel was allowed to proceed to Rabaul after an initial inspection and confirmed that it did not sustain any serious damage from its grounding, and was not taking in water.
“NMSA allowed Kimbe Queen to sail to Rabaul on the condition she did not carry any passengers which the owners complied with,” he said.
Security concerns also prompted the decision.
“There were concerns by police in Bialla and Kimbe, as well as the owners, that there was not enough police personnel on the ground to provide safety and security for the vessel (in either location for the inspection) as tension and emotions are still running high after the Rabaul Queen tragedy.”
NMSA inspectors are expected to take two weeks to complete their inspection at the company’s docks.
They will submit their report to the authority headquarters in Port Moresby.
Rupen clarified that there was no pressure from the NMSA on the vessel to suspend operations in the wake of the mv Rabaul Queen sinking.
“NMSA can only stop a vessel if it deems the vessel unsafe for operation,” Rupen said.
Meanwhile a memorial service for the victims of the mv Rabaul Queen will be held at St Mary’s Catholic church in Eriku on Sunday in Lae.
There will also be a boat trip to the site of the ferry sinking the same day

Exec: Airport to go private by 2030

THE National Airports Corporation expects all airports in PNG to be fully privatised by 2030, according to the NAC 2012-2030 strategic direction plan, The National reports.
Most airports are currently managed by the NAC and the state but could use the private-public-partnership (PPP) concept to move them into the status of private sector ownership.

An artist's impression of what the Jacoson Airport would look like
Managing director Joseph Kintau said yesterday they were working on getting some of the airports to be under some form of PPP, to become a policy model on how they could sustain other airports as well.
“An example of what we are doing is that we are considering a PPP with PNG Sustainable Development Programme for the development of the Daru and Kiunga airports,” he said.
“This would help the government realise its objective to provide services to rural areas, using the PPP.
“At the same time, the objectives of PNGSDP and the others are also met, creating a mutually-beneficial arrangement for all.”
Kintau said even though an airport was under a PPP arrangement or fully-privatised, NAC would still maintain a role in managing the airport or non-aviation related areas of the airport.
He said the main issue in the PPP process was the question of certainty of getting government’s contribution on PPPs.
“To rely on the annual budgetary appropriations is not adequate to give necessary security for the investor or service provider,” Kintau said.
“So we have to now work on a more secure model that will guarantee availability of funding to pay for the services or contracts been procured under PPP arrangements.”
He said the aim was to get all airports to be viable and at the same time enhance the value of assets in respective airports.

LNG pipes spark row


A MULTI-BILLION kina liquefied natural gas project faces disruptions to its development after angry landowners complained about the damage to their environment and protected sites, The National reports.
 ExxonMobil, the developer of the PNG LNG gas project, had been accused by the people of Gulf province of breaching an agreement by laying pipelines within five miles of their traditional fishing grounds.
The landowners also want Ex­xon­Mobil to explain the presence of fo­reign vessels in their fishing grounds.
Aitari Huaupe, a public relations officer with the Ihu District Umbrella Landowners Association Inc, claimed that the ships seemed to be laying gas pipelines.
In response, Rebecca Arnold, the lead media and communications adviser for the LNG project, said the ships were not laying pipelines but were supporting the laying of the pipes.
Arnold said the laying of the pipes was done 30km offshore from Caution Bay and not in the coastal waters as claimed by the landowners.
She said the vessels supporting the pipe-laying were located eight nautical miles (15km) south of
Apiope village.
“We are still using the same route off Caution Bay all the way to Omanti as agreed in a permit with the government,” she said.
Gulf Governor Havila Kavo told parliament yesterday that the go­vernment and the developer should review the benefit-sharing agreement in light of the developer’s action.
“I have gone to the area and found that the pipeline came right into the traditional fishing zone,” he claimed.
“As a result, the marine life in the area has been disturbed and will continue to be affected as siltation from the 14 rivers that flow into the Gulf of Papua will be captured, building up sediments and disturbing the prawn cycle in the area.

PNG gas stocks run hot on Australian Stock Exchange

By BRIAN GOMEZ in Sydney

PNG oil and gas stocks ran hot yesterday after Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation agreed to invest US$280 million (K595.7 million) for a 20% stake in nine PNG oil and gas leases held by Canada’s Talisman Energy, The National reports.
 The two companies agreed to work closely to aggregate various natural gas deposits in Western province in support of a venture that could potentially export three million tonnes of liquefied
natural gas (LNG) annually, they said.
The share price of recently listed Kina Petroleum soared by 15% or A$0.03 yesterday to A$0.23; New Guinea Energy rose 12.28% to A$0.64 and Horizon Oil shares surged 6.9% to A$0.31 on the back of the news.
News that the P’nyang South 1 well had shown elevated gas readings at the top of the Toro sandstone interval helped Oil Search to a year’s high of A$7.07, up A$0.11 or 1.58%.
Oil Search has gained more than 10% in the last five trading days.
With hundreds of PNG investors likely to benefit from these gains – more than 27 million shares changed hands yesterday in the four listed PNG oil and gas stocks – the news brightened prospects that condensate exports from the Stanley field could commence by the end of next year.
The Talisman announcement yesterday at its headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, said the farmout agreement with Mitsubishi was subject to approval by the PNG government and its joint venture partners.
“Following the farmout, Talisman and Mitsubishi licenced equity positions will average 40% and 20% respectively in these nine licences,” it said.
Horizon Oil and Kina Petroleum are the two most immediate beneficiaries.
Horizon holds 45% equity in PRL 21, where the Elevala wet gas field is located and 50% in PRL 4, where the Stanley gas-condensate project is currently being
planned. Kina has 15% equity in PRL21.
Talisman, which made its entry into PNG in 2001, is listed on the Toronto and New York Stock exchanges.
It has a market capitalisation of about A$14 billion (K31 billion) compared to around A$8.5 billion for Oil Search.
“Talisman is delighted to have MC as a strategic partner in our onshore licences in PNG,” Paul Blakeley, executive vice-president, International Operations East, said.
“MC brings extensive experience in LNG development and marketing and I am confident they will be a key success factor in helping us unlock the value of our PNG assets.
 “Talisman intends to commence a four-well drilling programme on PPLs 235 and 261 during 2012, as well as ongoing appraisal in PRL 21.”
Mitsubishi has been involved in the LNG industry since 1969.
It operates in 80 countries through a network of more than 500 companies with a 60,000-strong workforce

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Government starts Ramu mining awareness

A state team led by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) last week commenced a series of awareness programmes on environmental  and other issues in relation to the Ramu mining project.
The awareness programme which was conducted at Mindre village and the Madang provincial government headquarters was in compliance with the general order from the Madang National Court to inform and consult with the plaintiffs of the court case relating to use of (deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) system by the Ramu mine.
Basamuk landowners listening to the team

Upon handing down its decision mid last year, the court ordered the state to consult with landowners of Basamuk and other areas on environmental issues including DSTP every three months until the closure of the mine.
Provincial director for mines John Bivi said that this exercise by the state team was an important part of the progress of the Ramu mining project.
 He said it was important that the national government carried out such awareness programmes so that people were not left in the dark, especially with regards to environmental matters.
Goro Arigae of the DEC updated the landowners and Madang provincial government officials on where the project was in terms of environmental matters.
He explained to the two parties the environmental permitting processes and also what the various types of permits were, and how they were processed and granted.
He told them that the Ramu mine had been granted an environmental permit and having gone through the court case on DSTP, it was given to approval to use DSTP.
The mine was now awaiting commissioning.
Chairman of Basamuk Landowners Association Lima Mulung, and chairman of Inland Coastal Pipeline Charles Okori, thanked the state team for their efforts in attending to queries from landowners.
Mulung said his people were happy with information on the status of the project and explanation on the government process for granting environmental permits.
He wanted the state team to include others such as inland coastal pipeline people in the awareness programme.

Nautilus launches exploration programme


NAUTILUS Minerals has launched its 2012 exploration programme in the Bismarck Sea in its exploration tenement areas, The National reports.
 Its tenements included the first commercial development and recently approved licence, the Solwara 1 and 2 projects, located at 1,600m water depth in the Bismarck Sea between New Ireland and East New Britain provinces.
According to a statement from the East New Britain provincial administration, the awareness team visited the province last week from New Ireland and would move on to the other provinces sharing coastlines of the Bismarck Sea as part of their exploration cruise programme awareness.
The Nautilus exploration exercise will begin tomorrow over a period of 90 days aboard mv Duke, a fully-equipped seafarer vessel specially fitted for ocean research and with latest technology on deep sea exploration.
According to project geologist of Nautilus awareness team Kessy Wama, the main objective of the exploration exercise was to identify new targets, assess data on existing finds and assess the new methods of exploration.
She said the deep sea exploration methods were mainly multi-beam and seismic surveys with the latter being the first of its kind to be used by Nautilus in mapping out geological structures beneath the sea floor.
Wama said these activities were low impact and not harmful to marine wildlife and Nautilus would be operating under both the PNG and Australian standards that would be closely monitored by a marine observer who would be onboard the exploration vessel.
She assured that as means of controls and mitigation, all equipment on the vessel were well-tested and designed and manned by very experienced operators.
Deputy provincial administrator-coordination and implementation, Clement Irasua, reiterated the need for compliance to ensure that marine resources were protected at all costs while in operation.
He appealed to maritime communities of East New Britain and New Ireland to understand this awareness programme and cooperate whenever they sighted the mv Duke out on the open seas

Coffee Industry Corporation helps in air-freighting coffee


COFFEE Industry Corporation stands ready to assist remote coffee farmers air freight their coffee to major towns through its freight surety scheme (FSS), according to chief executive officer Navi Anis, The National reports.
 He said the government had allocated K5 million to CIC under the FSS programme, which farmers from as far as Marawaka, Simbari, Jimi,  Karimui, and other remote areas were currently using to ship their coffee.
Chairman of the Apo Coffee Co-operative Society Nicholas Ello (left) and the Salvation Army’s Care Programme coordinator Henry Bagme  counting the coffee bags freighted by an Adventist Aviation plane into Goroka from Karamui recently using the CIC’s freight surety programme

“Under the FSS programme, CIC will pay upfront for air freighting coffee, and the farmer will repay the freight cost once the farmer sells his/her coffee,” Anis said.
He said the arrangement would depend on the availability of planes, weather conditions and front loads.
Farmers were urged to visit the CIC head office in Goroka, Kundiawa or Mt Hagen to seek the assistance of the FSS programme, or contact CIC marketing analyt on telephone 531 1200 for more information