In brief: negotiations for P’nyang hit a wall and other business stories


Minister expresses disappointment over P’nyang negotiations, companies owe about K1.8 billion in salaries and wages to the Internal Revenue Commission, and Australia is set to provide over K1 billion loan to Papua New Guinea. Your weekly digest of business news.

Minister for Petroleum Kerenga Kua. Credit: PNG Echo

[Mining and petroleum]

The P’nyang gas field negotiations have reached serious obstacles, after ExxonMobil reportedly refused to negotiate on Papua New Guinea’s terms. Minister for Petroleum, Kerenga Kua, said the State’s negotiating team had drafted terms in line with international standards that would ensure a ‘fair deal’ for his country. In a statement, Kua said: ‘It’s disappointing Exxon has refused to even consider the terms and we urge them to reconsider their position.’

(You can read assessment of the negotiations from the Institute of National Affairs’ Paul Barker here.)


Sam Koim, Acting Tax Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC), announced last a three-month penalty amnesty on salary and wages taxes (SWT). Companies who have outstanding SWT payments have from January to March 2020 to pay up the base tax and have their penalties written off. Koim said that about K1.8 billion in SWT is owed to the IRC. (IRC)


Alex Hawke, Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Credit: DFAT

PNG’s Parliament resumes on 26 November and will see the tabling of the 2020 Budget. Acting Clerk of Parliament Kala Aufa reportedly said that the first week will see the tabling of the Budget, ‘with the press lockup on Wednesday’. (The National)

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Australia has committed to provide a US$300 million (K1 billion) loan to PNG to aid its reforms and government financing. Prime Minister James Marape said in a statement: ‘We successfully negotiated the loan on favourable terms to be the cheapest possible …  The funding is the first significant concessional loan Australia has offered in many years to anyone in the world. This reflects the confidence Australia has in the extensive and comprehensive reform program undertaken by the Marape-Steven Government.’

‘This assistance reflects the Australian national interest in a stable and prosperous Papua New Guinea,’ said Alex Hawke, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific. ‘It will also benefit Papua New Guinean and Australian businesses by increasing the availability of foreign exchange in the country and by supporting trade and investment.’ (DFAT)


Sirunki Strawberry farm in Enga Province is now supplying its juicy berries to the Singapore market. The company, run by Innovative Agro, produces about 600 kilograms of strawberries a week and also supplies them to shops in Port Moresby. (Post-Courier)


A Chinese agri-project is set to produce 300 tonnes of fresh mushroom (with a total output value of K3 million) using Juncao technology. The project also includes plans for a K10 million livestock project, whose goal is to raise 20,000 sheep, goats and cattle, and plant 100 hectares of grass as feed. Both projects could create 10,000 job opportunities in Eastern Highlands Province. Juncao (jun, which means mushroom; and cao, meaning grass) technology was developed at the University of China’s Department of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry. (Post-Courier)


Six government agencies – Department of Public Enterprise, Office of Urbanisation, Border Development Authority, Coastal Fisheries Development Agency, Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and Cocoa and Coconut Institute – have been abolished, transferred and/or merged to streamline the public service. Two million kina has been allocated to pay out affected staff. (Post-Courier)

Parliament during the Supplementary Budget presentation. Credit: RNZ

Bank South Pacific’s CEO, Robin Fleming, said that domestic liquidity in PNG has increased by K300 million in recent months. ‘System liquidity has improved in recent months with liquidity being sufficient to fund loan growth albeit low levels.

‘BSP has managed the domestic liquidity through a combination of moving investments in government securities to lending and also a more selective approach new to BSP lending.’ (The National)


The South Fly Agribusiness program began last week and is set to create over 270 jobs and help about 500 smallholders in the region in the South Fly District of Western Province. It includes vanilla and black pepper production and the refurbishment of a barramundi hatchery, which was part of a 2009 program. (EMTV)


Canadian journalist Dan McGarry, who used to be the media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post, had been denied a visa renewal. The government of Vanuatu said his application was rejected because the job should be held by a local citizen. McGarry, who has lived in the Pacific nation for 16 years, has said the decision is politically motivated and is because of his coverage highlighting China’s influence on Vanuatu. (ABC)


Photograph of the week

Queuing to vote. Credit: RNZ

Polling for Bougainville’s independence referendum began on 23 November. Thousands of people have gone out to vote. The polling started in the main centres of Buka and Arawa as well as in other remote locations, and will move around Bougainville. In the coming days, voting will commence in Brisbane, Australia, and Gizo, in the Solomon Islands. Click here for our preview of the vote.

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