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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

O’Neill to head caretaker govt

Source: The National, Tuesday 15th May 2012 By ISAAC NICHOLAS PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill will retain the finance portfolio and head a caretaker administration to run the nation’s affairs until a new government is formed. He revealed this as parliament enters its final session today before it is dissolved to allow for fresh elections. The issue of writs is scheduled for Friday. Voting begins on Saturday, June 23. The return of writs is on or before July 27. A new government is expected soon after that. O’Neill told The National yesterday he would keep the same team of ministers in the careta­ker government. He will be caretaker prime minister and finance minister. Other key ministers in the interim administration included Belden Namah as deputy prime minister and forest minister, Don Polye (treasury), William Duma (petroleum), Sam Basil (national planning), Dr Allan Marat (attorney-general), John Boito (police), Bart Philemon (public service) and Sir Mekere Morauta (public enterprises). Leader of Government Business and Esa’ala MP Moses Ma­ladina said the final session was to formally close parliament and to give MPs a chance to make final statements. He said parliament would also deal with outstanding legislations which needed to be passed including the Women Against Violence Bill. Community Development Mi­nister Andrew Mald is expected to table that bill. “This will be the formal closure of parliament until the return of writs,” Maladina said. “We will give opportunities to members to speak for the last time before we formerly close parliament.” He dispelled rumours that the government would move a motion to defer the election by six months. “There are a couple of members who wanted to defer the election due to concerns about the preparedness of the Electoral Commission and security of the election,” he said. “However, the government, including Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his coalition partners, agreed that there is no need to defer the election. “Everything is on target and schedule for us to go for election. Everyone wants the election to go ahead now. “It is not in the interest of the nation to defer the election. We need to go back to our people to seek their mandate once again to come back as elected representatives of our electorates.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Abel: K100 million expected from casino

Source: The National, Friday May 11th 2012 THE 4-Mile Hotel Casino project is expected to bring in foreign investment of more than K100 million over the next 12 months, Commerce Minister Charles Abel said. It is also expected to create employment and support business activities in Port Moresby. “The project will create over 500 direct employment and more than 2,000 indirect employment opportunities and create income earning opportunities for our youth and women,” he said. He re-launched the project yesterday after it was suspended last year due to lack of financial support and administrative delays. Steven Khan, representing the new investor AusPNG Ltd, said the re-launching of the project was a positive step forward for the nation and Port Moresby in terms of job creation opportunities. He said as an experienced development organisation registered in PNG, AusPNG had no hesitation in becoming the major shareholder for the project. To ensure the success of the investment, Khan said AusPNG had engaged a number of globally recognised companies to assist in specific areas of the development stage. These include Accor Group and Casino Austria. The construction phase would first look at the completion of the hotel, shopping areas and the casino. Later it will look at the completion of the hotel and accommodation. Approval for the Hotel Casino was given in 2005.

PNG runs out of ARV drugs

Source: The National, Friday May 11th 2012 By LESLIE OMARO ANTIRETROVIRAL (ARV) drugs used to treat people living with HIV/AIDS have run out, forcing them to rely on alternative medication. HIV health project coordinator Maura Elaripe from Igat Hope Inc said there were many frustrated people wondering why their medication regime had been changed suddenly. Elaripe said they were against the use of the drug stavudine (D4T) because the World Health Organisation had stopped its use. But she said the health department continued to treat people with HIV/AIDS with the wrong drug combination. Elaripe said in September last year, stocks ran out and the then health secretary had assured people the situation would not recur. “More than 50 members of our organisation who were on ARV drugs had to go on a drug holiday,” she said. Health Department programme manager Dr Nick Dala said yesterday K8 million had been spent to purchase new ARV drugs that would arrive from Copenhagen, Denmark, in five weeks. Elaripe said the health department had undertaken to monitor those who had gone on drug holidays for signs and symptoms of resistance and provided necessary follow-up care as needed. “The National Department of Health failed to buy more drugs and distribute them to the 70-plus sites ... whatever drugs were available in the country have been exhausted and we now have a critical emergency in the country.” She said in February they alerted the health department again on the stock situation and its failure to keep its promise to monitor those that had gone on drug holidays.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Watch your baby from anywhere

Lupari: Future of country hinges on new parliament

Source: The National, Tuesday 08th May 2012 THE future of the country will hinge on the new parliament and government after the general election, economics and former chief secretary Isaac Lupari said in a presentation during the National Alliance party fundraising dinner last weekend. Lupari said there were greater prospects and opportunity to create a better Papua New Guinea but all those opportunities would depend squarely on a strong and disciplined leadership. He said this when making a presentation on the state of economy since 2002. He said the prospects for growth looked positive as a result of the LNG project and the Gulf LNG project, which would create a stable economy. Lupari said the LNG project “will general K100 billion over 30 years, K3.3 billion a year, starting 2014”. He said that much revenue would be parked in the Sovereign Wealth Fund overseas but the country must avoid “similar Cayman Island experiences”. He said there were big challenges ahead for the new government. He said among those tasks would be the management of the SWF. Lupari said since the collapse of fixed ex-rate regime in 1996, and adoption of the flexible regime (IMF/WB), “the kina has not gained or strengthened and it still remains volatile”. He said the value of the kina had improved against major trading currencies largely because of macro-economic stability, (instigated by fiscal stability) and intervention by BPNG, and was unlikely to further depreciate because of increased import activity (LNG) and government’s reckless spending in recent months. He said looking back to the past decade, PNG almost went into default in early 2000s from the mismanagement and reckless spending by the government under the late Bill Skate. He said debt is expected to rise from 2012 onwards because of the large borrowings by government to finance the LNG project. He said high interest rates were bad for the economy as there “will be no new investments, businesses collapses, unemployment rises, Public debts (domestic debts) rises; lesser resources in the Budget”. He said from the period 1997-2002, PNG suffered from bad economic management and uncontrolled spending. Lupari said from 2003-2009 there were signs of great improvement but that was now under threat “if current Government fails to curtain excessive spending”. He said inflation was high between 1997-2003, largely because of fiscal instability caused by budget blowouts. He said from 2003-2008, there was great improvement and inflation was brought under control by fiscal stability and discipline but inflation “is again on the rise from 2008 largely due to LNG project but significantly due to deterioration in fiscal discipline”. He said if the trend continues, “PNG will re-enter the late Skate’s and Mekere’s era”.

4,000 racing for 109 seats

Source: The National, Monday 07th May 2012 NEXT month’s general election could see more than 4,000 people chasing 109 seats in Parliament compared with about 2,800 in 2007, the Electoral Commission has revealed. The director of the Papua New Guinea’s Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker, says it is no surprise that there are a large number of candidates signing up for next month’s general election. Barker said in a radio interview recently there was a significant amount of frustration over the way politicians had been running the country. Gaining political office in PNG also carried a lot of status and was financially rewarding. “It’s almost sort of seen to be a passing of age exercise to come along and have a go, people are often encouraged to do so by their own local communities,” he said. “By and large you are seeing a lot of people who may not have a lot of money to start with becoming quite a bit more affluent during their term in office.” The Electoral Commission is accepting nominations until May 18. The contestants, however, have coalesced into two major rival camps – one containing incumbent Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah and Treasurer Don Polye. The other is led by deposed prime minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and his National Alliance party. Sir Michael is expected to team up with Pangu Pati, Peoples Party and the People National Assembly. The O’Neill-Namah-Polye combination have a headcount of 68 sitting lawmakers in total. O’Neill’s People’s Congress party has 25 MPs, Namah’s Papua New Guinea Party has 21 and Polye’s Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party has 22. Somare, who was ousted after missing three consecutive sittings of parliament last year while he was hospitalised in Singapore, has endorsed 89 candidates. He said although he had thought of retiring from politics, he had decided to prove to his rivals that his East Sepik people still wanted him in parliament.