Prime Minister Hon. James Marape responded to inquiries from East Sepik Governor Hon. Allan Bird in Parliament today regarding the Bank of Papua New Guinea’s decision to halt the use of cheques in the country.
Governor Bird expressed deep concerns about the potential impact on the people of East Sepik, particularly the local farming community, many of whom rely on cheques for payment.
Prime Minister Marape acknowledged the independence of the Central Bank from the government’s direct influence, emphasising the separation of monetary policy control by the bank and fiscal policy control by the government.
“I will instruct the Treasury to engage in immediate discussions with the Central Bank on this matter,” stated Prime Minister Marape.
“I do not believe that as a nation, we are adequately prepared to transition away from cheque usage.”
While acknowledging the Central Bank’s concerns about money laundering, Prime Minister Marape highlighted existing institutions such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) established by the government in 2020. He emphasised the government’s commitment to combat corruption through legislative amendments, including updates to the Proceeds of Crime Act.
“The Treasurer will collaborate with the Central Bank to address our concerns promptly,” Prime Minister Marape assured.
“We are not ‘cheque-less ready’ as an economy, and we need to ensure that the public’s interests and security are safeguarded.”
Prime Minister Marape reiterated that the existing framework, including ICAC, provides sufficient measures to counter money laundering and corruption. He urged the Central Bank not to implement the discontinuation of cheque usage prematurely.
“The Treasurer will engage with them at the earliest opportunity to address our concerns and find a mutually beneficial solution,” said Prime Minister Marape.