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TIPNG demands Transparency on APEC vehicle procurement

Posted by PNG Today | | Posted in , ,

The only way to stop allegations of corruption is to be honest and transparent in procurement processes, says Transparency International PNG (TIPNG). In a media statement TIPNG is calling for the Government and APEC Authority to publicly disclose the total cost involved in the purchase of the Maserati and Bentley vehicles and to demonstrate their compliance with public procurement processes.
TIPNG said this in response to public condemnation of the purchase of 40 Maserati sports cars which were delivered last week and other luxury vehicles. Justin Tkatchenko MP, the Minister responsible for APEC, revealed that the government had procured the luxury cars on the expectation that they would be later sold to the private sector after the November APEC Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby.

“We have heard only vehement denials of corruption by the Government and the APEC Authority, but they have not been forthcoming with procurement documents, such as an invitation for bids or receipts of purchase, let alone a list of private sector entities willing to purchase the vehicles. It is therefore not surprising that the public are suspicious of these purchases” said the Board of TIPNG.

“To assuage these legitimate concerns, the Government, particularly the APEC Ministry and the Department of Finance, must publicly release these procurement documents, otherwise it may be necessary for the relevant agencies such as the Police or Ombudsman Commission to compel them to do so by investigating the matter.”
The Government recently passed the National Procurement Act as part of its Alotau II Accord commitments along with a spate of recent Public Finance reform legislation, which was intended to strengthen public trust in Procurement. However it is difficult to see how the general public can have confidence in a system which, in the absence of transparency, is so readily made to support what are seen to be impulsive and extravagant purchases by state entities in the face of declining service delivery, a depressed economy and severe hardships being faced by the ordinary Papua New Guinean.

PNG Kumuls v England Knights match tickets go on sale

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Tickets for the first of the two game International series next Saturday (October 27) between the PNG LNG Kumuls and England Knights in Lae will go on sale next Monday October 22, 2018. PNGRFL CEO Reatau Rau said the tickets will be on sale from 9am on Monday at Andersons, Eriku and Foodmart in Town. He added Brian Bell Homecentre at Lae Market will be confirmed by tomorrow.

He said the cost per ticket is K50. “This covers all the stands and the grass areas at the Lae Rugby League ground,” Rau said. He added the cost covers everybody from young to old. “Every person that enters the ground, whether a child or adult must purchase a ticket. There is no separate price for children,” Rau added.

He said this is the first appearance for the PNG LNG Kumuls in Lae since 2014 and the first time an International team is touring the country after more than 15 years or so therefore we believe K50 per person to host the game in Lae is affordable,” Rau said.

He said there are security features on the tickets to prevent counterfeiting and abuse. “The tickets have security features on them and will be scanned on entry so there is no space for cheating,” he said.

He urged the public to buy tickets early as there will be no sales on game day on Saturday. Gates at the Rugby League grounds will open at 9am on Saturday October 27, 2018. The curtain raiser will be an Under 20’s match which kicks off at 12.15pm. The International fixture between PNG LNG Kumuls and England Knights kicks off at 3pm.

Air Niugini operates first ever commercial flight to mainland China

Posted by PNG Today | | Posted in , ,

National airline, Air Niugini will operate its first direct commercial flight between Port Moresby and Shanghai, China on Tuesday, 23rd October 2018.
A cocktail function has been organized for all Chinese stakeholders on arrival including airport authorities, tourism bureau, top travel agents, wholesalers and tour operators. This will be followed by training seminars and a media forum.

The Port Moresby/Shanghai flight will operate twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays.Flights depart Port Moresby at 7:30pm and arrive in Shanghai at 1am, local time the next morning. The return flights on Wednesday and Saturday depart at 02:30am and arrive in Port Moresby at 11:45am. The flight time from Port Moresby to Shanghai on the new direct flight is 7 hours, 30 minutes and 7 hours,15 mintues on the return service.

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tahawar Durrani when announcing the new flight in Port Moresby today, emphasized that the inclusion of Port Moresby/Shanghai route is a strategic move as it provides an opportunity for Chinese visitors and business people to travel not only to Papua New Guinea but also to the Pacific and Australia.

Mr Durrani said “This service will complement our existing international flights to Asia - Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila and Tokyo – as well as our regional network which includes Honiara in Solomon Islands, Nadi in Fiji, Cairns,Brisbane and Sydney in Australia and Federated States of Micronesia.”
“It also offers convenience for the Chinese and PNG business communities and tourists,delegates attending APEC, as well as hundreds of PNG students studying in various cities in China to fly direct between the two countries.”

The Port Moresby/Shanghai flight also reinforces Air Niugini’s position as a carrier of choice connecting Asia with the Pacific Islands and Australia and further enhances Port Moresby as the gateway hub in the region.

(Image Source: P2-PXV - Air Niugini - Boeing 767-341/ER)

PNG adds $320k Bentleys to APEC luxury car fleet

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Papua New Guinea is adding to its APEC luxury vehicle fleet, with the purchase of three new Bentley limousines worth more than $320,000 (US$228,000) each.

The V8 Bentley Flying Spurs will join 40 recently-delivered Maseratis, worth $175,000 (US$124,000) each, in the APEC fleet, as PNG gears up to host the 21-member nation summit next month.

The Maserati purchase outraged many Papua New Guineans as the nation deals with the re-emergence of polio, high rates of tuberculosis infection and ongoing budget challenges.

The Australian has obtained an invoice for the Bentleys, made out to the chief executive of PNG’s APEC Secretariat, Chris Hawkins.

Hawkins is also a senior communications adviser to PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The vehicles were purchased from a Malaysian-based company called South Pacific Ventures Inc., which describes itself as providing “business consultancy and services on healthcare development projects in Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island countries”.

The cars are due to arrive in Port Moresby this month by sea freight.

The Australian has sought comment on the Bentley purchase from PNG’s APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko, but he is yet to respond.

The Maserati Quattroporte cars were delivered to Port Moresby last week from Milan, Italy, on two privately chartered Boeing 747 cargo planes.

APEC Tkatchenko said last week that the Maseratis had been “pre-sold” to private sector buyers who would take the vehicles off the government’s hands after the summit.

PNG is the poorest nation in the APEC grouping and faces an array of development challenges.

The official minimum wage is about $1.50 (US$1.07) an hour but unemployment is rife, and the majority of Papua New Guineans live outside the formal economy.

Australia is providing at least $130 million (US$92.8 million) in support to help PNG host APEC.

Australian F/A18 Super Hornets and electronic sensor aircraft will patrol the skies over Port Moresby during the November 17-18 APEC leaders’ meeting, while the helicopter landing ship HMAS Adelaide and several naval patrol boats will protect against maritime threats.

About 1500 Australian Defence Force personnel will also be involved, including special forces soldiers, rounding out the biggest security commitment of any nation in support of PNG’s APEC year

SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS

Australian fighter jets, warships to secure 'vibrant' PNG APEC

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Australia will spend $130 million (US$92.8 million) deploying Super Hornet fighter jets, it’s largest warship HMAS Adelaide and elite special forces troops to help Papua New Guinea “deliver a vibrant, Pacific-style APEC” when leaders from 21-member economies gather in Port Moresby in November.

Government officials confirmed the “ballpark” cost of helping Papua New Guinea host more than 10,000 delegates for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which diplomats believe will help the nation “unlock its potential as a tourism superpower”.

“We are providing this assistance because, quite simply, they asked us to – as close friends and neighbours.”

New Zealand, the United States, China, Canada, Japan and Indonesia are among other APEC nations contributing to security and safety at the largest event Papua New Guinea has ever hosted.

In addition to 500 troops on the ground in Port Moresby, a further 1,500 Australian Defence Force personnel will help enforce a no-fly zone over the island nation from Australia - although officials stress there have been no specific threats to summit security.

Australia has helped the Papua New Guinea Defence Force “rehearse” counter-terrorism scenarios while firefighters from Queensland will also be on standby in Port Moresby during the gathering, crewing new firetrucks funded by China.

“Primary security of APEC venues, motorcades and delegations is wholly on Papua New Guinea, as it should be as the host nation.”

While Papua New Guinea’s Constabulary and Defence Force will lead summit security, it is understood Australian “advisors” will work alongside local authorities with Australian Federal Police and Army on standby as part of an Incident Response Group.

Security will be similar to that seen in Australia at the recent Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney.

As APEC hosts, Papua New Guinea will secure 500 meetings across the year, culminating with the Leaders’ Summit on November 17 and 18.

While most leaders – including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - will spend at least one night in the host nation, US Vice President Mike Pence is reportedly planning to stay in far north Queensland and commute back and forth to Papua New Guinea by plane for the duration of the summit.

It’s understood Australian officials “are highly encouraging all delegations to stay in Port Moresby” because they are highly confident about security and Papua New Guinea is enormously proud of its role as hosts.

Additional troops and federal police will be deployed in Far North Queensland to help safeguard the dozens of world leaders expected to transit through Australia on their journey to PNG.

Diplomats are also helping Papua New Guinea’s government “articulate and shape it’s policy agenda” for the summit, which Australia believes “is a good and positive opportunity for Papua New Guinea to show leadership on free trade and investment” – interpreted by some as an attempt to counter rising Chinese influence in the Pacific and beyond.

SOURCE: SBS/PACNEWS

Pruaitch dismayed by O'Neill Govt's move to block PNG Opposition Radio Talk-back program

Posted by PNG Today | | Posted in , ,

Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch said today he is dismayed to learn that the O’Neill Government has effectively censored the PNG media and threatened one of the pillars of democracy in this country.

Mr Pruaitch said two prominent Opposition leaders, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird and Madang MP Bryan Kramer, had been scheduled to discuss the scandal surrounding the import of 40 Maserati cars from Italy on FM100.

Reports coming in from Port Moresby, Lae and various parts of Morobe Province indicate these broadcasts were blocked by the O’Neill Government in an unprecedented action.
Mr Pruaitch said: “It has long been acknowledged that freedom of the press in PNG is a key pillar of the nation’s democratic institutions, acting as a safety valve on many issues of public interest.

“Freedom of the press and the role of the media has helped PNG retain its reputation ‘as one of the persevering democracies in the developing world,’ as one political scientist put it.

“From this perspective this is a sad day today for all Papua New Guineans. It says a lot that no one is surprised by this development because the O’Neill Government is the first PNG Government on record that has set out to manipulate the mass media in the past few years.”

Mr Pruaitch said he was adding his voice to the call to all Papua New Guineans, in the public and private sector, to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough’, and demand an end to waste and corruption by supporting the nationwide strike on Thursday and Friday initiated by colleagues in the Opposition.

This government is the recipient of more revenue than any government in the nation’s history, but it is constantly broke and unable to keep up with budgeted payments for education and health and causing numerous offices to be locked out of their premises for failure to pay rent.

“These are problems that have never been encountered on this scale in the past,” he said, adding: “The O’Neill Government has no trouble paying for luxury cars, without going through normal government tender processes.”
Statement / PNG Today

Over 30,000 Students sit for Grade 12 Exams

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Over 30-thousand grade twelve students across the country are currently sitting the 2018 National Examinations.

Students from 170 secondary and national high schools, started yesterday with the Maths Paper 1 and History Exams.

NBC News visited the Gordons Secondary school in Port Moresby where students sat for the Physics and accounting papers today, and spoke with the principal George Kenega.

Principal George Kenega said the school has two hundred and eighty one students currently in grade 12.

He said they anticipate a good outcome from the exams, in order to maintain their position as one of the top performing schools in the country.

The students will sit their Economics, Biology and Business Studies papers on Wednesday.

On Thursday they do the Language and Literature and Chemistry. The Information Communication and Technology and Math Paper 2 will be sat for on Friday.

Meantime, Education Secretary Doctor Uke Kombra has urged all schools and students to be fair and not cheat in the exams.

He said the penalty for cheating or assisting to cheat in the National Examination is Non Certification.

Kombra is now calling on all eexternal invigilators, School heads and inspectors to report all observed malpractices to the Measurement Services Division of the Department for analysis and action. NBC News

PNG Facebook MPs cannot call for Nationwide Strike

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Commentary 

Papua New Guinea Opposition Facebook MPs can not call a strike as an Elected Leaders - Floor of Parliament is the right place to debate with Govt

A nation wide strike is not the way to mislead people into disrepute on the 11th hour of the APEC. Every elected leaders and responsible Papua New Guineans will do everything at this time to ensure that the APEC is delivered without any domestic political fuse to dispute what is wrong and right. We have committed too much to the APEC and this is not an event that one politician in this great country to politicise.

Political leaders have parliamentary avenues to exercise democratic rights on behalf of the people. The public servants and the business community are supporting the APEC and remaining committed until the APEC is delivered. We request every responsible politicians to be one in supporting this historical world meeting event in PNG and postpone all other interests after APEC. These kind of concerns can be expressed after the APEC not now because international media can portray security issues when we are couple of weeks away from the arrival of the APEC World Leaders in PNG.

Ilegal strikes motivated by poltical jealous and hatrate. As long as it is always for politcs there is nothing good for the country. We have done lots of strikes and protests in the past but what have we achieved. Only loss of lives, disruption of schools and student education, stop business and chaos. Politicians fight for their own political agenda using students, activists, public servants on Facebook is illegal and out of political sights. It wont change anything. Only when piliticians change for the good of PNG will see change.

We will not be moved by Kramer or Juffa or Bird. They emotionalise issues but never provide anything concrete and long term solution. You are not different to Don Polye, Ben Micah and many other politcians who thought they could easily oust a sitting Prime Minister by strikes and protests. You have worked so hard to bring Peter O'Neill and PNC done during the 2017 elections but he is back in power by the mandate of the people to serve the people of PNG. Stop cooking up lies. When you say you want to do for the future of the children by organising a violence and protest, can't you see what Peter O'Neill and his government is doing for the Children over the last 7 years with free education. The statistics proof that they are many children in the class room than ever before. Of course they are issues and challanges but it is a reality that there is no fact in the world where everything happens to you liking. Garry Juffa, Kramer and Bird are operating in this mindset where they think they have some quick fix solution to PNG issues.

We can not be mislead by this fallasy and fantasy. We need real leaders with balls to make tough deacisions necessary to change the cause of our children future. Not short cuts like them. The O’Neill government has already set the pace for change. They need to remain focus and genuine to reap the frutis of the policy and legislative refroms they have started. There is no other way to move forward. People must be supported and enaged to productive endveours and meaningful activtiies to proudly drive their own destiny and future of our country.

Calls for nationwide strike after PNG government buys 40 Maseratis for Apec

Posted by PNG Today | | Posted in , ,

Papua New Guinean opposition MPs have called for a nationwide strike this week amid growing anger at the government’s decision to buy 40 Maseratis for its APEC forum next month.

The PNG government – which as well as hosting Apec is also dealing with a devastating earthquake recovery, a nationwide medication shortage, a polio outbreak and worsening TB rates in addition to generally high rates of poverty – last week imported 40 of the luxury vehicles via charter plane from Italy.

In defence of the purchase of millions of dollars worth of cars, members of government including the prime minister, Peter O’Neill, claimed it would cost the government nothing and the cars would all be sold on to the “private sector” in a public tender after the APEC leaders’ meeting next month.

Observers were doubtful of the ability of the government to sell 40 Maseratis – which had never been seen in PNG before – for the same price at which they were bought, and in a city with record high rates of carjackings. Four-wheel drives are a more common vehicle in PNG, where the roads outside of cities like Port Moresby and Lae are often otherwise impassable.

The opposition MPs Bryan Kramer, Garry Juffa, Allan Bird and Sir Mekere Morauta have called for a two-day strike this week. “People are right to be disgusted by the information that is now coming to light, and they are fully entitled to express their opposition to this blatant fraud,” said Morauta, who also called for an independent inquiry into the purchase and the involvement of the O’Neill government and APEC authority.

He pointed to other controversial APEC-related spending, which he said had all proceeded “at the expense of the health system, the education system, rural infrastructure, law and order, government finances and the economy, and employment”. “Why are we importing luxury cars for Mr O’Neill and his wantoks [extended family] to ride around in when children are dying of polio, tuberculosis and other preventable diseases?” he said.

Last week, PNG’s minister for APEC, Justin Tkatchenko, said the cars were “selling like hotcakes” and the government’s costs would be “totally reimbursed”.

O’Neill reacted to criticism of the decision to buy the Maseratis, saying all APEC hosts provided appropriate cars for leaders and it would not have been appropriate to use Land Cruisers, reported the news website Loop PNG.

Jonathan Pryke, the director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific islands programme, told the Guardian the issue was “frustrating” and “tin-eared”, given the difficulty the PNG government had in paying for fundamental services like health and education.

“Peter O’Neill was saying this is not going to be Apec of largesse, it’s going to be a Pacific-style APEC, it’s going to be modest,” Pryke said. “If it’s going to be modest, why don’t you have a fleet of Land Cruisers? Land Cruisers are the status symbol in PNG as it is and they could easily be recycled into the PNG economy. Maseratis cannot be recycled into the PNG economy. Who would even service them?” he said.

“They’re convinced they’re going to make a profit off it, I don’t know how the hell they’re convinced of that.”

Pryke said spending on APEC was already a “lightning rod” for anger among Papua New Guineans. After paying government debt and government wages, there is often very little left over for health, education and other services for the citizens of the country.

“Service delivery is low in that pecking order and often the government just literally runs out of cash before it gets to that point. That’s why you hear all these stories about they don’t have paracetamol at the general hospital, clinics are running out of supplies,” said Pryke.


SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN/PACNEWS

PNG Tourism industry caught offguard by cancellation of visa on arrival

Posted by PNG Today | | Posted in

The suspension of visa on arrival will have devastating effect on the struggling tourism industry especially in the peak tourism season in PNG.

But late Monday, Tourism Promotion Authority chief executive officer Jerry Agus said he would meet with Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha today to find a way forward in ensuring PNG continues to facilitate for genuine bona fide tourists.

“The temporary suspension for a period of almost a month will definitely affect our tourists because they buy their tickets six months in advance to get special fares, so because of this suspension it will definitely affect our tourists, especially bona fide tourists coming from long haul markets like United States, Europe and Australia.”

Agus said the industry members have expressed concerns that this will send a wrong signal to the tourism industry but these issues would be ironed out today.

“Immigration has agreed that this decision will affected the industry but we will come with a way forward for TPA and Immigration to closely work together to make sure these tourists will continue to come especially the ones that are already paid for accommodation, tickets so that no hassles are created and we will fine tune how we will facilitate for them,” Agus said

Kantha in response reassured the industry that Immigration and Citizenship Authority would provide all the necessary assistance and support to ensure pre-arranged trips by tour organisers and tourists are not severely affected

Sir Peter Barter in an exchange of correspondence between the PNG Dive Association’s Max Benjamin and Chief Migration Officer Kantha said the effect will go beyond the dive sector, it will affect most hotels throughout PNG who also struggling due to the effect APEC is having in deterring tourists.

“Most tourists secure their visa after they have purchase their tours from international and local tour operators, they then pay a deposit and final payment just a week or so before they travel. At this time they would request their tourist visa, and many assume that tourist visas will be issued on arrival.”

“When they cannot get a visa, the operators then have to apologise and refund on FOREX which again is another challenge that is certain to cause problems.” Sir Peter said

“Tourism in PNG is not only Port Moresby, it affects all of PNG and to introduce such a policy at short notice is bound to cause problems for operators in selling PNG as a destination, in short it is totally irresponsible and unacceptable to the industry, to make matters worse, no advance notice was given to the industry who in turn need to convey this ill-conceived policy to operators, airlines and intending visitors.”

Benjamin of the PNG Dive Association said this will need a fast solution to the problem as the existing process for visa application will not work in time.

“The majority of November clients are from all over Europe and North America. The existing 6-week turn around for tourist visas at Brussels and Washington Embassies is insufficient,” he said.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

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