Prime Ministers Media Releases

CABINET HAS APPROVED THE APPOINTMENT OF NEW CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL HONOURS AND AWARDS COUNCIL

The National Executive Council has recently approved the appointment of the new Chairman and Members of the National Honours and Awards Council (here in referred to as Council).

The Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape said Cabinet has also approved to rescind the previous decisions in relation to the appointment of members of the Council and the Chairman, Sir Frederick Reiher.

“Cabinet has approved the appointment of the new Members of the Council as follows;

(i) President, National Council of Churches – Chairman;
(ii) President, National Council of Women;
(iii) Official Secretary to the Governor General;
(iv) Secretary, Department for Community Development & Religion;
(v) Secretary, Department of Prime Minister & NEC;
(vi) Secretary, Department of Defence; and
(vii) Commissioner of Police.”

“Cabinet has also approved for the function of the Council to be transferred to the Department of Prime Minister & NEC.”

The Prime Minister said Cabinet further directed that the Department of Personnel Management include the Honours and Awards Function as a Branch of the Department of Prime Minister & NEC in the restructure of the Department that is taking place soon.

Prime Minister Marape meets UK Minister for the Pacific and theEnvironment, Rt. Hon. Lord Goldsmith

Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, MP recently had a virtual meeting with the Rt. Hon. Lord (Zac) Goldsmith, the United Kingdom (UK) Minister for the Pacific and the Environment.

Their discussions focussed on COVID-19, Climate Change, Forestry, Trade and the UK’s candidacy for the position of Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and briefly on the Commonwealth.

COVID-19 which has almost brought the world to its knees was the major focus of the discussions where they both expressed sympathies to the families of those who have lost loved ones in both the UK and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Minister Goldsmith expressed support for PNG’s COVID-19 response, including announcing a UK package worth over K4.3 million, mainly through the WHO and UNICEF.

The UK’s contribution to PNG’s COVID-19 Response is a mix of finance and expertise. The package, some of which the elements are still being finalised is worth about K4.3 million. About K3 million is being channelled through WHO Papua New Guinea for medical training and equipment in support of the country plan (part of UK announcement at the start of the visit of £1.8m for WHO in the Pacific, including PNG); K1 million to UNICEF to fund Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in 40 schools in Goroka and Mt Hagen (benefitting 8,000 children); K110,000 on COVID-19 awareness – for booklets in Tok Pisin, Motu and Bahasa and – via UNICEF – a song “Wok Bung Wantaim” for TV and radio. Other forms of support are yet to be confirmed.

On behalf of the Government of PNG, Prime Minister Marape expressed PNG’s most profound gratitude to the UK for their kind and generous assistance to the people of PNG which will go a long way in addressing the challenges PNG has been confronted with since the pandemic began. The mixed bag of support is essential for awareness and in areas where PNG lacks capacity as well as to provide support to vulnerable members of our communities, including children.

As host of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021, the UK is keen to assist PNG develop an ambitious climate plan, especially to protect its rich biodiversity. Minister Goldsmith informed of UK’s support to PNG on sustainable forestry governance and he further acknowledged a key element of PNG’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), noting that PNG was the first country to submit its NDC after the Paris COP in 2015.

Prime Minister Marape was grateful for the UK’s keen interest to work with PNG to protect its rich biodiversity which has the 3rd largest rainforest in the world. He expressed PNG’s keen interest to collaborate with the UK on sustainable forestry and tackling illegal logging. He highlighted the importance of health and education services to affected communities and for support in providing alternative sources of income through reforestation programs, agriculture and eco-tourism.

Prime Minister Marape noted the recent establishment of the Blue Planet Global Fund under which 500 billion Pounds have been earmarked to assist climate change affected countries, which PNG can benefit from.

Prime Minister Marape reiterated PNG’s commitment to join the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance (co-chaired by UK and Vanuatu), which tackles plastic pollution. The Prime Minister committed as well to advocate for other Pacific Island countries who have yet to join to do so given that we are all maritime and coastal states. He added that PNG also launched its Oceans Policy in July 2020 in its efforts to protect and conserve sustainably PNG’s ocean and marine life including its shoreline of about 5,000km2.

Prime Minister Marape highlighted the UK’s leading role in multilateral fora at the UN, World Bank, IMF, ADB and the Commonwealth where they can help support PNG. Their bilateral support is guided by PNG government priorities and focused on capacity building in the areas of health, trade and the environment.

The UK is the largest contributor to the UNDP, World Bank’s International Development Association, WHO, Global Climate Fund, UN Peace-building Fund (including Bougainville); largest European funder of Asian Development Bank; and the second largest funder of UNICEF. In the Health sector, through a K35 million project under the Fleming Fund, the UK is helping PNG tackle drug resistant diseases (laboratory refurbishment and training PNG staff in country).

Prime Minister Marape expressed PNG’s appreciation to the UK as an international partner that has recently supported PNG in the IMF as a member of the Executive with the disbursement of emergency financing under the Rapid Credit Facility to help PNG address the urgent balance of payments needs created by COVID-19.

On trade, Prime Minister Marape reiterated PNG’s commitment to ratify the UK-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (UK/PNG/Fiji) in Parliament by the end of 2020. This is to ensure continuation of post-EU tariff free trade and export promotion support. Further to this, the Commonwealth Standards Network project will also help PNG set/use internationally recognised standards and so promote exports. He added that this will also enable more organic food to be exported to the UK as well as market access opportunities for fisheries and timber products.

Minister Goldsmith sought PNG’s support to their candidate, former Cabinet Minister, Mr Liam Fox to head the WTO to which Prime Minister Marape committed PNG’s support given our deep historical and long standing trade ties with the UK.

On Commonwealth issues, Prime Minister Marape acknowledged the UK’s leadership as the current Chair of the Commonwealth and the values which PNG upholds and subscribes to. He also noted that the next Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting will be in Rawanda in 2021.

Prime Minister Marape also mentioned UK’s hosting of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 as an opportune time for both countries to reaffirm people-to-people linkage through sports.

The Rt. Hon Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park was appointed as Minister of State in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 13 February 2020. His responsibilities include Oceania/Pacific; climate change, environment and conservation, biodiversity; oceans. This was his first virtual visit to the Pacific which commenced 24 August and will end 3 September. He is holding meetings with political leaders in PNG, Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu and Palau, as well as roundtables with regional organisations, e.g. Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), South Pacific Community (SPC) Secretariat of the Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

 

Misleading publication by Post Courier that Gamato ousted as the Electoral Commissioner: Patilias Gamato not ousted but suspended.

The Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP, clarifies that Mr. Patilias Gamato was suspended on full pay and not ousted as reported in the Post Courier of 3rd September 2020.

“On the 03rd of September 2020, Post Courier ran an online publication and published in the front page of its daily Post Courier Newspaper an article titled “Gamato Ousted-Simon Sinai appointed new Electoral Commissioner.”

“The article contains misleading and unverified information stating that Mr. Patilias Gamato was ousted as the Electoral Commissioner of Papua New Guinea and Simon Sinai was appointed the new Electoral Commissioner and due constitutional process were not followed to remove Mr. Patilias Gamato.

“To clarify to the entire general public, I confirm that Mr. Patilias Gamato is not ousted as the Electoral Commissioner and there is no Constitutional crisis in place.
Mr. Gamato was suspended from office on full pay pending investigations into the following allegations made against him following his referral by the Electoral Commission Appointments Committee on 17 August 2020:

1. Payment of K9.5 million to Lama Rent A Car in 2018.
2. Engagement of consultants without proper contracts.
3. Creation of trust accounts without ministerial approval and trust instrument to facilitate payments to consultants.
4. Payments to consultants disguised as payments to outstanding service providers for the 2017 national elections.
5. Unauthorized pension payments to former Electoral Commissioner Reuben Kaiulo.
6. Breach of bail conditions and harassments of electoral commission staffs who are state witnesses.
7. Finding of guilt of contempt by the national court for disobeying the Supreme Court orders.

“Whilst they remain allegations subject to further investigations in accordance with the law, they are serious in nature and to preserve the integrity of the Office of the Electoral Commission of Papua New Guinea, the Electoral Commission Appointments Committee in accordance with the procedure set out in the Organic Law on Guarantee of Rights and Independence of Constitutional Office Holders upon being satisfied that a question of removal arises out of the allegations, has referred Mr. Patilias Gamato to an Independent Constitutional Office Holders Tribunal for investigations and has suspended him from duty on full pay pending the outcome of the investigations.

“Mr. Gamato is the Electoral Commissioner under suspension on full pay.

“His Deputy Simon Sinai has been appointed as the Acting Electoral Commissioner for a period of 6 months or until such time investigations are completed by the Tribunal.

“If the Tribunal finds that these allegations are true, they will recommend the appropriate penalty. If the allegations are not true, his suspension will be uplifted and he will resume office as the Electoral Commissioner.

“The Electoral Commission Appointments Committee does not have the power to terminate Mr. Patilias Gamato but has followed the due process in place to preserve the integrity of the Office of the Electoral Commissioner.

“It misleading for the Post Courier to make a publication stating the National Executive Council (NEC) had removed Gamato from Office.

“The Electoral Commission Appointments Committee is not the cabinet but is a body made up of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chairman of the permanent Parliamentary Appointments Committee and the Public Service Commissioner.

“The NEC has no legal role in the disciplinary process of a member of the Electoral Commission.

“I urge the General public and the print media to be sensitive and responsible in their style of reporting so the general public is not misled with misinformation.


Authorized for Release by:
Hon. James Marape
Prime Minister

PM Marape launches PNG Connect Infrastructure Development Programme

The Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP officially launched the Papua New Guinea Connect Infrastructure Development Programme today at the APEC Haus, Port Moresby.

The Prime Minister said the PNG Connect Programme will build roads and maintain existing roads that will connect villages that have economic activities to the formal economy.

"The implementation of the programme will develop 12,600 kilometers of strategic roads at the cost of K20 billion on a rolling 20 year programme," Prime Minister Marape said.

"The roads and all other transport infrastructure like jetties and airstrip will open up economic corridors for our people so that they can go into business and create their own wealth.

"Connect PNG starts that process and every other infrastructure like telecommunication and electricity must overlay.

"In the next 20 years, we must visit the 462,000 Square kilometers of land with roads, ports, jetties, airports or airstrips, power and telecommunication."

Prime Minister Marape said we cannot talk about increased productivity in agriculture, downstream processing forestry, marine resources and even tourism without connectivity.

The Prime Minister said when the roads are opening up, the potential of rural enclaves will be unbundled and the people in those areas can participate in the formal economy.

"Opening up the missing links will increase the length of national road network by an additional 2,500 kilometers bringing rural access to 70%," Prime Minister Marape said.

He said these will help to break the cycle of relying on just one or two sectors of the economy.

"Our traditional development partners, Australia, Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, European Union, European Union Investment Bank (EIB), China Exim Bank and India Exim Bank have already committed financing of K20 Billion to fund the PNG Connect Infrastructure Development Program.

"We will also utilise the tax credit scheme of ExxonMobil, Oil Search and Ok Tedi."

The Prime Minister added that to address the issue of maintenance of deteriorating infrastructures, the Marape/Steven Government is developing a proposed Road (Management and Fund) Bill that will be brought before Parliament soon.

Prime Minister Marape said the Bill will replace the National Road Authority Act 2003 and the Road Maintenance Act 1971, creating a sustainable fund regime, by establishing the PNG Road Fund, to eliminate the accumulation of the maintenance backlog.

He said currently there is an accumulated maintainable backlog that will cost well over K20 billion.

The Prime Minister said his Government is also fully committed to developing national capacity so that local contractors in all sectors can participate and share in the benefits of development.

"Our people are not lazy. They are resilient and industrious. They will maximise the opportunities under PNG Connect to pursue their dreams," Prime Minister Marape said.

The Prime Minister also called upon development partners to come on board and buy a part of the program.

He also thanked our traditional partners like the people and Government of Australia, the people and Government of Japan, the people and Government of New Zealand, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, China Exim Bank, India Exim Bank and the European Union for their contributions towards the development of Papua New Guinea.

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