Tonga’s new multi-million-dollar pack houses

Posted by Staff Reporter : ONE PNG | | Posted in

More Tongan fresh produce will be exported to international markets with the opening of new pack houses in Tonga.

This should make a big difference to farmers who will be able to sell their crops and other products for export to New Zealand, said Edgar Cocker, CEO of Tonga’s Ministry Commerce, Trade, Innovation and Labour.

The hope is for the pack houses to boost economic prosperity for local communities through exporting their local produce.

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand Trade Commissioner Michael Greenslade met with Tonga Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Innovation and Labour officials Tevita Lautaha and CEO Edgar Cocker in December 2017 to discuss the developments.  PTI NZ has shared a close ongoing working relationship with the Tonga Government.

“PTI is absolutely delighted the Tongan Government has stepped into the agricultural sector to give some control and guidance which will lead to greater returns for Tonga’s growers,” Greeenslade said.

“We are 100 per cent behind the pack house project and wish Tevita and Edgar all the best in this new venture,” he said.

The Government of Tonga secured around TOP$1.5 million (approx US$688,000) towards funding the project.

But the buildings were prompted by a key supply agreement.

Tongan officials struck a key deal in April 2017 after meeting with J & P Turner Limited, parent company of fresh produce importer Fresh Direct and other suppliers.

Although the initial deal would include food, fish and handicrafts as reported in online publication, Kanivatonga, Cocker said they would start by buying and exporting yams, arum, cassava, taro and watermelon.

The new pack house will be equipped with the latest packing equipment bringing it into line with international standards.

New pack houses are planned for building in Vava’u, Lapaha, Vaini, Houma and Hihifo in Tongatapu.

The new pack house was blessed by royalty when it was opened on the island of ‘Eua in December by His Majesty King Tupou VI. This was followed by several upgrades to meet the HACCP and international requirements.

J & P Turners has had a long association with Tonga and the agreement highlighted the strength of that relation said Mr Jeff Turner in a 2016 news item.

Turners are one of New Zealand’s biggest fresh produce buyers.


New calls for sugar tax after research finds more sugar in NZ soft drinks

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The call for a sugar tax has been strengthened by a new study of New Zealand's soft drinks which shows they contain more sugar than in other countries.

The University of Waikato research found the drinks contained a higher amount of sugar than those in most other Western countries.

Lead author Lynne Chepulis said the average fruit juice or soda in New Zealand had up to five or six teaspoons of sugar, compared with maybe three or four teaspoons in the United Kingdom.

She said regulations like sugar taxes were encouraging manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their drinks.

FIZZ founder Dr Gerhard Sundborn said that on average, we had one-and-a-half times more sugar in our fizzy drinks and juice than the likes of Canada, Australia and the US.

He said there was no real regulation around sugar or its industry and that it was time for that to change.

On the back of the findings, the New Zealand Dental Association has also called for action.

Spokesman Dr Rob Beaglehole said there should be an icon on sugary drinks showing how many teaspoons of sugar were in them, a sugary drinks tax and schools should all have water-only policies.

Sugar was a major contributor to dental decay, and the study showed that drinks sold in New Zealand had several teaspoons of sugar more than similar products sold in other countries, he said.

"An end to the confusion around 'sugar per 100mls' is within our grasp. We're asking for a sugary drink icon. This would clearly let consumers know how many teaspoons of sugar are in their drink," Beaglehole said.

"We've seen many countries address sugary drink consumption by adding a levy on the price of sugary drinks. The UK is introducing one in April this year.

"In the past few years we've seen great success in water-only policy for primary and intermediate schools, but this needs to extend to all schools, including high schools."

But the New Zealand Initiative was concerned that sugar tax advocates were misleading the public by pretending to punish manufacturers rather than consumers.

Responding to renewed calls for a sugar tax, policy analyst Jenesa Jeram said there were still no grounds for introducing such a tax in New Zealand.

Jeram said that trying to regulate the sugar content of sugary drinks was likely to have unintended consequences.

"The trend for introducing sugar taxes overseas is growing faster than the evidence base that the tax will reduce obesity. The evidence that is coming in is that manufacturers who reformulate their products face the risk of consumer backlash. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon, New Zealand should be waiting to see whether the sugar taxes overseas are actually improving health outcomes."

The Dental Association was leading a seven-point consensus statement on sugary drinks which was backed by 12 other health organisations.

The seven actions are;

• Introducing an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink.

• Independent monitoring and evaluation of food marketing, with an emphasis on marketing that influences children.

• Urging the Government to adopt WHO limit guidelines on sugar.

• Encouraging the public to switch to water by; introducing warning labels highlighting sugary drinks as risk factors for obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, and nationwide social marketing campaigns such as "Switch to Water".

• Working with schools and the Ministry of Education to introduce "water only" policies.

• Introducing local council "water only" policies at council facilities and events.

• Introduction of a "sugary drinks" tax in line with WHO recommendations.... PACNEWS

Ottio laid to rest

Posted by Staff Reporter : ONE PNG | | Posted in , ,

PNG Kumuls center, the late Kato Ottio has finally been laid to rest today at his Tatana Village in the nation's capital.

The burial ceremony which included a funeral service at the local United Church was attended by hundreds of fans, friends and family from across Port Moresby.

Several gun shots were fired in honor of the late Ottio before he was lowered into a tomb.

Kato Ottio is Kumul number 269 and Hunters number 29.

He had passed away a week ago while training with the SP PNG Hunters.

He was bound for the Widnes Vikings club in the English Super League, however succumbed to what was medically reported as heatstroke.

NBC News - Jason Gima Wuri

PNG Government Accounts open

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PNG Finance Minister James Marape has officially announced the opening of the 2018 financial year today revealing strict guidelines and measures which will be employed to further tidy up the Finance Department this year.

Minister Marape reiterated strict emphasis on its operations within the department in that same habits and patterns in 2017 and before will continue in as far as its role is concerned.

“What is budgeted for will be expanded. In 2018 we will stick to what is in the budget, no spending outside of the budget. All expenditures of 2017 and beyond are totally redundant now,” said Marape.

He said the department will not be expected to carry on recurrent expenditures of 2017 into 2018 and advised government departments to furnish in their work plans as early as possible for the 2018 fiscal year.

“Based on the work plan, we will try our very best to honour the development budget component for the drawdown and management of budget,”

Mr. Marape sounded an early warning as well to all agencies of state to conclude their expenditure reports of 2017 by March 31, 2018 as Finance Department was now up to speed in tidying up all expenditures.

“Agencies heads who fail to comply with simple financial reports for monies we’ve given them will not be tolerated,” said Minister Marape.

PNG Volcano activity Update

Posted by Staff Reporter : ONE PNG | | Posted in , ,

The current reports issued today by the PNG Rabaul Volcano Observatory of the Department of Mineral Policy & Geohazard Management on the Kadovar Volcano is that it is still erupting. 

The Main Crater produced weak to moderate grey ash clouds to 300 meters above the vent, at long intervals with stronger sustained explosive activity producing ash clouds to 500-800 meters above the summit and is being blown to the South and South West, towards the Sepik River. 
Whilst a Rabaul Volcano Observatory team was installing a seismometer on Kadovar they witnessed one moderate Vulcanian event with glowing rocks expelled. The South West and West Vents are both producing weak emissions but are often obscured by ash from the Main Crater.
A moderate continuous white steam plume is rising from the South East Coastal Vent to 800 meters above the island. The South East Coastal Vent emits a steady red glow at night with some periods of fluctuating glow intensity.

Downwind areas are affected by light haze. Discrete Vulcanian explosions will add pulses of higher ash loads and Seismometers have now been operating since 11:00 am (Local Time) on Blup Blup and at 15:00 pm (Local Time) since Tuesday on Kadovar. Between 11 am yesterday and 8:00 am this morning the Blup Blup seismometer recorded 6 discrete high frequency earthquakes and as for Kadovar earthquakes were at 2 seconds intervals from 14-15 km deep. The volcano is now being seismically monitored in almost real-time, if the situation escalates the number of earthquakes would be expected to increase in number and strength. 
The situation is also being monitored by various satellite techniques. The recording of high frequency earthquakes from Kadovar indicates ‘rock breaking events’ and indicates the structure is still being stressed and the situation is dynamic.
The Risk level at the moment on the Island is HIGH. And on the Mainland and other nearby Islands, there is a small risk of TSUNAMIS happening.

By Roderick MANDAU as reported by the RVO Team /PNGFM / PNG Today

BSP opens selected branches for Special Operating hours

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Bank of South Pacific (BSP) has launched an initiative to open selected branches nationwide for three consecutive Saturdays (Saturday 20th January, Saturday 27th January and Saturday 3rd February, 2018) from 9am - 12pm  to allow BSP Customers the opportunity to collect their new and /or replacement bank cards.
BSP's General Manager Retail, Paul Thornton confirmed this saying, this initiative is to support the post launch activity of BSP's Chip Enabled Visa and MasterCards in order for our customers to replace their old magnetic stripe cards which will be deactivated after  15th February, 2018.

The special operating hours approved by Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) will allow BSP customers to collect their new and/or replacement cards. Collection of Personal Internet Banking Mailers and registration for services such as Mobile Banking and Personal Internet Banking only can also be done during these special trading hours.

"If you a BSP customer and have applied for a KunduCard, Sumatin card or Kids Savings account, you can call our Customer Call Centre to confirm if ready and come on any of the three Saturdays to collect your card(s)," said Mr Thornton.

For the Visa Debit Card, customers must return the old cards to get the replacement.

All BSP branches in the country will operate on these selected dates and times, except for few BSP branches such as Gordon's Commercial Centre (GCC), Aitape, Arawa, Daru, Kainantu, Motukea, Bulolo branch, Bialla, Kundiawa, Lae Commercial, Porgera and Wabag branches.

Customers are advised to bring along a valid identification for collection of new and/or replacement bank cards, collection of Personal Internet Banking Mailers and also identification and Completed Application Form for Mobile Banking and Personal Internet Banking Registration.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the BSP Customer Service Centre (24/7) on 320 1212 or 70301212. You can also visit our BSP website on www.bsp.com.pg.

Kumul College not recognized

Posted by Staff Reporter : ONE PNG | | Posted in ,

The Papua New Guinea Education Department will not recognize the Kumul Teachers College in Port Moresby, as a training institution.

Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra said this following reports the college failed to meet requirements of the department.

The privately-owned institution has started enrolling students for the 2018 academic year without seeking approval from the government.

Dr Kombra says the department has a school registration policy for interested individuals and groups to apply, and any teacher training done outside the national education system is illegal.

Dr Kombra is appealing to parents not to send their children to attend the institution because the department does not recognize it.

NBC News

Albert brothers depart for Vikings

Posted by Staff Reporter : ONE PNG | | Posted in ,

The Albert brothers, Wellington and Stanton flew out of the country yesterday for the United Kingdom for a two year rugby league contract with the Widnes Vikings club in the English Super League.

The Albert family was at the Jacksons International Airport earlier today to farewell the duo.

PNG Rugby Football League Chief Executive, Reatau Rau and his staff were also there to farewell the brothers.

"The Albert brothers have been together for the last four years after coming through our systems through the junior development programs all the way to the Digicel Cup and then Prime Minister's XIII and onto the Hunters and eventually went on to the Penrith Panthers for two years and then coming back to the Hunters for a full year last year, then the 2017 World Cup and here they are."

Wellington Albert is thankful to coach Michael Marum and the Hunters.

"When we came back we thought our rugby league careers were over but thank you to Michael Marum and PNGRL for believing in us and giving us the chance to play in the Hunters.

"We really appreciate that."

Stanton was signed up by the Vikings last Friday, replacing his late team mate Kato Ottio.

"Im honoured to represent my country and my team mates in the Hunters in the UK.

"Im feeling excited and looking forward to a new chapter."

NBC News - Paul Taumik Junior

Chow takes over Lae Rugby

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Adrian Chow has been appointed the caretaker Administrator of the Lae Rugby League for this year.

Apart from this new role, Mr Chow also has duties as chairman of both the Lae Snax Tigers and the PNG National Rugby League.

Chow was appointed by the PNG Rugby Football League to oversee running of Lae, following allegations of fraud and mismanagement leveled against the former administration.

He's also vowed to improve management, administration and governance of rugby league in Lae.

NBC News - Sylvester Gawi (Lae)

The bad – and good – of China’s aid in the Pacific

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By Jonathan Pryke

The Pacific region is making headlines across Australia after Pacific and International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells harshly criticised Chinese aid in the region. 'Useless' is how Fierravanti-Wells has described Chinese aid projects, leading countries to take on debt they can't afford. While her concerns are legitimate, her blunt delivery hasn't been constructive and has led to some considerable political and diplomatic fallout.

So what's the real story? Is Chinese aid in the Pacific useless?

The answer is not so simple. China's aid programme is so opaque it is very difficult to understand exactly what it is doing. China does not conform to the sophisticated reporting and accountability mechanisms that traditional Western donors have developed over decades of aid delivery. According to some estimates, China announced more than US$350 billion in aid between 2000 and 2014 under a shroud of secrecy, leading to considerable anxiety about where, why and how Chinese aid is given.

This anxiety extends to the Pacific, where since 2006 China has rapidly expanded both its commercial ties and aid programme. The Lowy Institute has invested considerable time to better understand China's engagement. Our map of Chinese aid in the Pacific shows projects committed from 2006 to the middle of 2016. By scouring budget documents from countries across the Pacific, Chinese government websites, secondary sources such as conventional and social media, and conducting numerous interviews, we have compiled the most comprehensive picture of China's involvement in the region. It is not perfect, but it identifies and quantifies Chinese aid better than any other source.

Our research shows Chinese aid in the Pacific has grown substantially, with China committing more than US$1.7 billion in aid to eight Pacific Island countries (including Timor-Leste). To put this into context, total traditional aid to these countries over the same period was over US$9 billion, with aid from Australia making up almost two-thirds this amount.

An important distinction must be drawn between Chinese projects and traditional ones. China typically engages in large infrastructure projects by providing low interest, or 'concessional', loans that eventually have to be repaid. There is often scant information beyond an announcement, with no detail on the terms of these loans or repayment schedule. Australia and other traditional donors typically provide one-way grants that do not need to be paid back and engage in more complex (albeit far from perfect) forms of assistance across multiple sectors, from humanitarian assistance to governance support.

To illustrate this point, while we have identified 216 Chinese aid projects in the Pacific from 2006, there have been more than 5000 projects carried out by traditional donors since only 2011. While Chinese numbers may appear large, it involves a concentration into select large projects. Because of this distinction, comparing Chinese aid to Australia's is like comparing apples and oranges. China has emerged as a significant donor, yet is it clearly still not the biggest player in the Pacific.

Understanding the quantum of Chinese aid is only the starting point. The greater challenge is understanding quality, the point that has landed Fierravanti-Wells in strife. Such judgments are not black and white, and ultimately projects have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The best research on this, looking at the experience of four countries in the region, has found that effectiveness of China's aid to be mixed; projects in Samoa have largely led to positive outcomes, while the experience in Tonga and Vanuatu has been less positive.

Importantly, the authors find that the quality of Chinese aid projects are 'dependent in large part on the actions of Pacific Island governments'. This shouldn't come as a surprise. China is not forcing aid on these countries; the Pacific governments have to tell China what they want and manage the projects to a standard that ensures China delivers. With these findings in mind, a criticism of Chinese aid is also an implicit criticism of the governments in the region that agreed to the projects in the first place.

The point Fierravanti-Wells makes about debt distress is a fair one. The International Monetary Fund has noted that Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu all face considerable debt repayment pressures, and all have significant debt to China. President Xi Jinping has even acknowledged the debt burden in the past, promising forgiveness that has yet to eventuate. There are also cautionary tales elsewhere in the world of China taking advantage of debt-distressed nations. Considering the portfolio of loans in Pacific countries (think government buildings and conference facilities, rather than critical infrastructure projects such as deep-sea ports or airports), this seems less of a problem, though certainly worth keeping a close eye on. But again, much of this responsibility must rest with Pacific governments. Australia can't criticise China without criticising decision-makers in the Pacific as well.

Given this messy context, the statements by Fierravanti-Wells, while not without basis, have not been constructive. Attacking the new kid on the block is the easy way out, and Australia is a far from perfect player in the region. The government should instead be working harder to encourage the role of Chinese aid in the Pacific, acknowledging it as an important complement to Australia's aid. China's continuing attention on the region should also be a catalyst for Australians to take a hard look at themselves and ask how they can do more in the immediate region and work with all actors towards a more prosperous Pacific.

Jonathan Pryke is Director of the Lowy Institute's Pacific Islands Programme. Prior to joining the Lowy Institute Jonathan was a Research Officer at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University where, on top of his research obligations, he was editor of the Development Policy Blog and a co-convener of the Australasian Aid Conference. Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Sydney, a Masters of Public Policy (Development Policy), Masters of Diplomacy and Graduate Diploma in International and Development Economics from the Australian National University.



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