Prime Minister Hon. James Marape today (Thursday, June 8, 2023) reaffirmed his government’s commitment to enhancing the financial capabilities of cities and towns in Papua New Guinea.

Parliament today unanimously passed three significant bills that grant increased financial powers to the cities of Lae in Morobe, Mt Hagen in Western Highlands, and Kokopo in East New Britain, marking a significant milestone.

The newly approved bills, namely the Lae City Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023, Mt Hagen City (Amendment) Bill 2023, and Kokopo City Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023, facilitate the redistribution of Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue from their respective provincial governments.

As per the amendments, the Morobe Provincial Government, Western Highlands Provincial Government, and East New Britain Provincial Government are now obligated to allocate “25 per cent of the GST revenue they receive from the Internal Revenue Commission for the fiscal year commencing January 1, 2024, and for each subsequent year” to their respective city authorities.

Although Lae, Mt Hagen, and Kokopo were designated as cities by Parliament in 2015, their development has been impeded by challenges in revenue collection. An exception was Lae, where the Morobe Provincial Government allocated 20 per cent of the GST collected to the city in 2020.

Prime Minister Marape commended Kokopo MP Hon. Ereman Tobaining Jr for introducing legislation that will benefit the entire country.

“This law is instrumental in expediting the delivery of services to our deserving people,” expressed Prime Minister Marape during the Parliamentary session.

“Our cities and towns serve as catchment areas for Papua New Guineans who are flocking to these service centres.”

Prime Minister Marape also commended Morobe Governor Hon. Luther Wenge and Western Highlands Governor Hon. Wai Rapa for their collaboration in facilitating this crucial reform.

The bills, presented by a member of Prime Minister Marape’s ruling Pangu Pati, MP Tobaining Jr, garnered support from both sides of the house.

Particularly supportive were Deputy Prime Minister and Lae MP Hon. John Rosso, Morobe Governor Wenge, Hagen MP and State Enterprises Minister Hon. William Duma, Western Highlands Governor Rapa, and East New Britain Governor Hon. Michael Marum.

“Our government wholeheartedly supports this reform,” emphasised the Prime Minister.

“I am pleased to witness members of the Opposition extending their bipartisan support. Empowering city authorities makes our job much easier.

“Look at the success story of the National Capital District or Lae City under the leadership of our Deputy Prime Minister, who has forged strong partnerships with the previous and current Morobe Governors.

“We must enact laws that bring about positive change.”