In brief: Sir Michael Somare retires after 49 years in politics, and other business stories

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Founding Prime Minister retires, new US Embassy to be built, NRI questions land allocation for petroleum park. Your weekly digest of the latest business news.

InBrief02Papua New Guinea’s longest serving MP and first Prime Minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, has bowed out of politics after 49 years. The former Prime Minister said at an NBC Press Club interview he was a very satisfied person because of the achievements under his reign, despite many tumultuous challenges that the country and its government overcame.

Veteran Pacific journalist, Sean Dorney, told EMTV that Sir Michael was a ‘remarkable’ man. ‘It’s not just that he’s been around. He actually dragged the country through to independence. I don’t know if people actually appreciate how difficult that situation was. Sir Michael proved it was possible to run this incredibly difficult and complex country’.

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The US Ambassador, Catherine Ebert-Gray, has reportedly unveiled the plans for the new US embassy compound in Port Moresby. The new embassy building, located at Konedobu, will be completed by September 2019, although the facade and landscaping will be done before APEC in November 2018. She said in addition to working with local contractors who hire local workers, the project will bring in 300 construction specialists to work alongside and train an additional 300 local PNG workers in the highly technical field of security construction.

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Dr Charles Yala. Credit: NRI

Dr Charles Yala. Credit: NRI

The National Research Institute has questioned the allocation by the Lands Department of more than 20,000 hectares outside Port Moresby to the Konebada Petroleum Park Authority. Institute Director Dr Charles Yala says the initial plan was for only 200 hectares.

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CHM business owner, Raymond Chin, reportedly says he is saddened that his stores have been made targets by rogue members of the community and police officers, who allegedly coordinated the break-in of the shop, which is situated within close proximity of the Boroko police station. The break-in at the CHM shop happened on March 24 and, soon after, a second fire razed several adjoining buildings in the area, including the iconic Johnston’s Pharmacy. He says nothing has been recovered, nor returned by police.

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Explosives producer, Orica, has reportedly opened a new production facility outside of Port Moresby. Officially called the ‘Orica Konekaru Site,’ the facility is located in Central Province, and is a few hundred metres from the Papa-Lealea Road and opposite the PNG LNG Plant Site.

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The Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry has reportedly urged its members to provide transport for their employees in the city until the police operation to remove unroadworthy buses is over. Metropolitan Superintendent Anthony Wagambie Jr said Lae had become a dumping ground for defective buses which put the lives of passengers and other motorists at risk.

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Origin;s Lesieli Taviri

Origin’s Lesieli Taviri

The International Finance Corporation is launching a pay-as-you-go project with Origin Energy PNG to support renewable energy use in PNG’s off-grid communities. CEO, Lesieli Taviri, says customers can pay at their convenience and from almost anywhere, avoiding initial investment hurdles for customers who previously could not afford a high-quality solar home system.

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The Anitua Group’s subsidiary Anitua Radial Drilling Services has reportedly bought Central Drillers, a geotechnical and environmental drilling company which was established in Port Moresby in 1995. Central Drillers general manager and founder Simon Brown will stay on as General Manager.

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The PNG Air logo has been included in a list of 12 of the best aircraft liveries of recent years published by CNN online. CNN commented that it was a contemporary depiction of ancient patterns that was designed to reflect the nation’s diversity.

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Hydroponics replacing imported fresh vegetables on Nauru. Credit: Pacific Pulse.

Hydroponics are replacing imported fresh vegetables on Nauru. Credit: Pacific Pulse

And finally, Nauruans now have access to freshly local grown salad and vegetables, thanks to Bashir, a 26-year old Afghan refugee, who studied English night and day and researched soil types, pollination, seeds, fertilisers—anything that would help start his own garden, on a tennis court. The project has now stepped up a notch, with the decision to build a larger scale farm, with help from Hydro Masta, an Australian company specialising in remote hydroponic projects.

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