Pangu to create Coffee Ministry 

BY FRANKIY KAPIN
The Pangu party will create a coffee ministry if it forms government after the 2017 national election.
Pangu party leader and Bulolo MP Sam Basil announced on this on Wednesday in the Kabwum district, Morobe province.

Pangu plans to create a coffee ministry when it forms Government

The deputy opposition leader was in the district to endorse the nomination of Haring Qoureka,the Pangu party candidate contesting the Kabwum seat left vacant by Bob Dadae who is now the tenth Governor General of Papua New Guinea.
Mr. Basil said apart from the existing agriculture ministry in the national government there will also be the creation of the coffee portfolio.
He said the current government has allocated K700 000 to agriculture but a Pangu-led government will see the creation of a coffee ministry allocated K1 billion.
He said from a total of K2 billion budgeted annually for agriculture, K1 billion will go to the coffee ministry.
Basil said for the past nine years serving in the government and opposition he has been able to deliver services as expected and now the manifestation of his leadership in the Bulolo district serves as the basis for endorsing ten candidates to contest the ten seats in the Morobe province.

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Higher commodity prices the key to improving Papua New Guinea credit ratings, says Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings

By: Kevin McQuillan

High debt and deficit levels are the reasons why ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has kept its Papua New Guinea country rating at B+/B, with a negative outlook. S&P Director, Craig Michaels, tells Business Advantage PNG that higher commodity prices are the key to lifting the rating.
Michaels, the Director of Sovereign and Public Finance Ratings, says the decision reflected the high levels of offshore debt and high government deficits.
‘These have been driven, directly or indirectly, by the large LNG project, and we thought those external and fiscal imbalances would unwind pretty quickly once the LNG project came on line,’ he told Business Advantage PNG.
‘But unfortunately, just as that happened, commodity prices globally fell very sharply.
‘So the revenues that were due to come on stream at that point have been coming in much more slowly and that’s why we have continued our negative outlook on PNG ratings.’

 
Forceful

Sovereign ratings are used as an indicator for setting a country’s base interest rate. They also have an effect on its ability to raise offshore financing, which the PNG government has been attempting.
PNG’s rating has been comparatively stable. S&P has maintained its B+/B rating for over five years, although it converted its outlook to negative in October 2015, when commodity prices began to weaken.
Michaels says the government has responded ‘forcefully’ to the revenue declines through savings decisions, and by targeting declining fiscal deficits to keep debt within its targets.
Overall spending between 2014-2016 fell by about 13 per cent over this period, with the result that the fiscal deficit narrowed to 4.4 per cent of GDP in 2016, from 6.9 per cent in 2013.

‘We project PNG’s general government net debt to remain comfortably below 30 per cent of GDP.’

‘Despite an election in mid-2017, we expect the deficit to narrow further this year to less than 3 per cent of GDP,’ he says.
‘On this basis, we project PNG’s general government net debt to remain comfortably below 30 per cent of GDP.’
Michaels warns, however, that if the government fails to continue to restrain spending adequately, or if growth in the nominal economy comes under even further downward pressure, net general government debt could rise above 30 per cent.

Fiscal-operations-of-government
PNG Government revenues, expenses and deficits/surplus – Source: Bank of PNG. 2017 Budget Papers

 
Debt financing

Michaels believes domestic banks and pension funds have nearly reached their limits for lending to the government, and that the central bank is acting as lender-of-last-resort when government bond auctions are undersubscribed.
‘The limited demand for government debt has led to a sharp rise in yields on government paper in recent years, and the government’s interest burden has risen significantly as a result.’

‘Michael says one of the key challenges for PNG’s overall growth prospects is the high level of crime.’

Gross external financing needs are currently at 80-90 per cent of current account receipts, and likely to remain at that level as ‘it appears the government is very committed to keeping debt within its own debt limits’.
Michaels laments that, despite some recent improvements, there are gaps in economic and external data, as well as a lack of transparency in public-sector accounting.

 

Growth

Michael says one of the key challenges for PNG’s overall growth prospects is the high level of crime, ‘which we think is a major deterrent for investment outside the resources sector’.

‘S&P could return the rating outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ if we become convinced that the high level of external debt and the pretty sizeable fiscal deficits will continue to decline in a reasonably quick way.’

He expects growth to be 3 per cent in 2017, up slightly from 2.6 per cent in 2016.
‘The medium-term economic outlook hinges on whether further large foreign-financed projects—such as the Papua LNG project—go ahead.’

 
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Michaels says S&P could return the rating outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ ‘if we become convinced that the high level of external debt and the pretty sizeable fiscal deficits will continue to decline in a reasonably quick way’.
‘And that will probably largely hinge on what happens with commodity prices.’

Merger of Telikom PNG, PNG DataCo and bmobile may lead to lower costs, say analysts

11 Apr 2017 
by Kevin McQuillan 


IT analysts and industry insiders tell Business Advantage PNG that the Papua New Guinea Government’s decision to merge bmobile and PNG DataCo under a Telikom PNG renamed Kumul Telikom is likely to increase competition and innovation. But the move will not be without challenges.
The merger of bmobile and DataCo with Telikom PNG, outlined in our interview with Kumul Telikom Chairman Mahesh Patel last week, will realise cost savings and harness the synergies among the three telcos, according to Public Enterprises and State Investments Minister Charles Abel.
Local industry insiders appear generally optimistic about the move, with some caveats.

Independent, Port Moresby-based IT specialist Russell Woruba, of Taragai Advisory, believes the restructure will reduce prices, and observes telcos now need to provide attractive bundled services in order to be competitive.

Carriers must offer enterprises and customers not only voice and data, but media content, ICT services, such as cloud options, as well as professional services, he tells Business Advantage PNG.

He notes, however, that to modernise Telikom to meet the current technological climate it may be necessary to involve outside partners who have the skill set and capital.

He also observes that Digicel PNG not only has market share but undisputed market power.


‘It is now digging into Telikom’s core fixed business through its service offerings.

‘By consolidating its assets, Telikom, DataCo and bmobile can compete effectively and create synergies for operational efficiency.’
Masalai Communications’ IT specialist, Emmanuel Narokobi, sounds a note of caution about the restructure.

‘There is a huge cultural shift that needs to take place internally within all the organisations,’ he told Business Advantage PNG.

‘Personally, from our work with them we have tried to push shared services across the various companies but they still do not recognise the strategic benefits of such exercises.’


Reduced duplication

The merger is supported by a recent report issued by Singapore-based BMI Research, a subsidiary of the global ratings agency Fitch.

‘The transferring of the country’s main fixed-line and gateway assets into one entity, DataCo—which will provide backbone services and international connectivity to operators—will be positive for the market,’ says to the report’s author, Telecommunications Analyst Vanessa d’Alancon.

After DataCo’s plans to upgrade and run the National Transmission Network are completed, expected this year, she says internet service providers (ISPs) and businesses in Papua New Guinea will have access to wholesale capacity.

This will provide a boost to bandwidth and encourage market competition. That competition, she says, should reduce prices over the medium-term for consumers.


More competition for Digicel?

‘Telikom has already begun rolling out 4G at discounted rates in 2017 to encourage take-up and will be in a stronger position to compete with Digicel,’ says d’Alancon.

She warns, however, that it will be difficult for Telikom to take market share from Digicel given that operator’s strong presence in the mobile market. Digicel has been successful in the market since 2007 and has brought mobile penetration in PNG from 1.6 per cent in 2006 to around 45.5 per cent in 2016.

That said, there are still many areas where internet services are unavailable and most rural areas only have 2G services, providing significant growth opportunities.


Digicel’s view

Digicel’s CEO, Brett Goschen, told Business Advantage PNG that Digicel fully supports an environment where all operators have access to all forms of wholesale transmission capacity.
‘We believe it is fundamental to growing and improving a competitive, open market: prices decrease, service offerings increase and the consumer benefits tremendously.

‘It is clear that the Government’s original communication model involving the transfer of transmission assets to DataCo would go some way toward achieving that.’

That said, Goschen says, however, he is not convinced the new structure will achieve the original intentions of government, namely ‘to create a competitive, open communication industry that augurs growth and value, whilst encouraging innovation’. From the limited public information provided, he noted the new merger does not appear to promote competitive outcomes to the benefit of the consumer, such as reducing the cost of accessibility.

http://www.businessadvantagepng.com/analysts-say-more-competition-will-result-from-restructure-of-telikom-dataco-and-bmobile-but-digicel-unconvinced/

SO WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?

By: Douveri Henao

The past couple of days, we’ve seen politicians and commentators rushing to the public to remind us that they made these predictions years ago the economy was tanking. They read the signs, saw the writing on the wall and as prophets of old, we did not respond. All true. But the people of Papua New Guinea don’t want reminders, they want solutions and this is the disappointment for the past couple of days.  
The only agreed consensus is kick out the current government and all will be well. Lets entertain the notion, but then what? How do you improve the economy? How do you turn the tide around?  

I’m of the view that any new leadership will be constraint by 2 factors to make meaningful change in the state of the economy in which all governments of PNG suffered. These are the inability for political institutions to reform the age-old patrimonial system and the lack of diversity in political ideology. 

PATRIMONIAL SYSTEM REFORM 
Respected thought leader in political science, Francis Fukuyama, makes the observation that patrimonial systems or in our case, wantok system, continues to undermine the ability for political institutions to grow into efficient organizations. Whereby meritocracy permits the best and brightest to formulate and execute public policy to the best of their abilities.  
The fiscal strategy of the current government has been underpin by the need to finance the patrimony. Over 12 billion kina has been given to sub national governments with limited capacity to absorb its use. While Waigani correctly claims its systems are able to deliver and execute projects of significance, no other government tier has the skills and resources. Therefore, this resource has largely fed the patrimony in an assortment of various schemes that have little impact to the constituency. 
There is also the bulging public service that is unsustainable and at most times, unproductive. It has cost the country 10 billion kina in this session of parliament. Public institutions have become villagers where CEOs have become chiefs and officers from there liking have become nobles and enemies have become commoners. So the nobles and the chief thrive on this healthy state bill to build there kingdoms and along the way, execute meaningful public policy.  
This Prime Minister and those before him have publically spoke of the rot that they have inherited in the public service. They have used various systems to mitigate patrimony and while some have been successful, many have not and its persistency undermines the fact that we need a different strategy.  
The key position is for the new leadership to work towards transitioning the current patrimonial political system to a robust merit based system not in the public service, but in the political system. Its ok to use wantoks, but use wantoks that know their stuff. Instill benchmarks to push productivity and inculcate a climate of vigorous science in building policy. This in turn can assist the public institutions to deliver the desired vision.  
THE NEED FOR DIVERSITY IN POLITICAL IDEOLOGY 

Every Prime Minister and current MPs as well as most political parties have subscribed for a strong socialist left leaning political platform. Big governments to bring social programmes to the masses, big governments to drive commerce, big governments to protect the community and big governments to bring jobs.  
While there is justification in this messianic approach due to market failures that undermine investment beyond Waigani and provincial capitals, it undermines other important players to participate in development. The efficiencies of the private sector and the enthusiasm of the civil society need to coexist and where possible, thrive.  
The new leadership needs to facilitate rather then participate and monopolize development. There are something’s that the public service and political systems isn’t built for and that limitation needs to be recognized.  
BEYOND 2017
We need political systems to be less emotional and more juiced up on the smarts. We need political systems to be more facilitative and less monopolistic.