In brief: Bougainville referendum on the agenda, and other business stories

Bougainville referendum on agenda, Irish potatoes harvested in trial, and Mining Minister reassures landowners. Your weekly digest of the latest business news.

in briefPrime Minister Peter O’Neill, speaking at the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo in Brisbane, Australia, last week said there will be a Bougainville referendum in 2019. ‘The government is committed to the letter and spirit of the Peace Agreement.’  O’Neill appeared to dampen hopes of independence for the island. ‘It is not about independence. It is about what is best for the Bougainville people. After the vote in 2019, regardless of the question, the outcome must be tabled in the National Parliament. I can assure you that every member of the parliament will vote in the interest of a unified and harmonious country.’

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Workers and technical staff celebrate the first harvest of Irish potatoes in a NARI trial. Credit: EMTV

Jonah Anton, an agricultural scientist at National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), told EMTV that they have made the first harvest of Irish Potato varieties after an ‘evaluation trial’ in Kabwum District, Morobe province. The project was funded by Kabwum District Development Authority to rehabilitate the potato crop since its destruction by Potato Late Blight disease in 2003.

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A whole-of-government approach is needed to address what Minister for National Planning Richard Maru told the Post Courier are ‘glaring holes’ in the country’s current biosecurity arrangements and protocols.

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A new 10km road was completed last week in the Nabak area of Nawaeb District in Morobe Province, according to EMTV. The road is expected to ease 11 years of difficulties faced by locals when accessing government services and transporting their produce to Lae.

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Mining Minister Johnson Tuke has reportedly reassured the four landowner associations of the Ramu Nico Project that they will receive their outstanding royalty payments as soon as procedural matters are executed by the relevant state authorities. Meanwhile, Ramu Nico Community Affairs Manager, Albert Tobe said the company is ready to pay royalties but is waiting for the state to give the clearance.

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The Fly River Provincial government is reportedly putting the State and the O’Neill-Abel Government ‘on notice’ that the P’nyang Gas Field must be considered a standalone gas project in Western Province. Western Governor Taboi Awi Yoto said he was speaking on behalf of the landowners, Western Province and ‘the eight million shareholders of Papua New Guinea’.

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Disaster recovery efforts in accessible parts of Papua New Guinea’s earthquake-affected Highlands region are moving towards a rehabilitation focus, aid agency World Vision says. World Vision’s PNG Country Director, Heather McLeod, said children are returning to school and most people have basic shelter.

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The commercial sale of galip nuts has started in the country, with production and packaging in East New Britain. National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) deputy-director Dr Akknapally Ramakrishna said it had been two decades of research, hard work and partnership between NARI Kerevat, the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), the University of Adelaide and the University of Sunshine Coast.

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A P&O cruise ship arrives in Milne Bay. Credit: David Kirkland

P&O Cruises Australia has announced six new dedicated cruises to PNG in its latest program release. It will call at Alotau, Kitava Island, Rabaul and Kiriwina Island. Another of the highlights will be a new 11-night round-trip voyage to one of the most remote locations in the Coral Sea, the Conflict Islands, the company said.

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The Department of National Planning and Monitoring, together with the European Union Delegation to PNG, have signed contracts with two Papua New Guinean established companies, Atlas Steel and Rhodes PNG, for the development, supply and construction of vital infrastructure and learning facilities in 10 vocational training institutions in the country. Worth about K37 million, the funds will be used for classrooms, dormitories, ablution blocks, teachers houses, training facilities, workshops in lower technical training institutions in Port Moresby and the Morobe, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, East Sepik and Enga provinces.

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Photograph of the week

Not too big a queue at the check-in counter for Terminal 1, International Departures and Arrivals, on the Conflict Islands. Shoes optional. Source: International Traveller

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