Prime Minister Hon. James Marape today shed light on the significant transformation of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) since his government assumed office in 2019. Minister Hon. William Duma, the State-Owned Enterprises Minister since 2021, presented a comprehensive 16-page progress report to Parliament today on the reform programme to Papua New Guinea’s SOEs, along with their respective performance and outlook for the current year.
The progress report signifies a turning point in the revitalisation of SOEs, marking a pivotal moment in Papua New Guinea’s economic landscape.
Prime Minister Marape underscored the dire condition of SOEs prior to his government’s tenure, describing them as being in the “intensive care unit” in 2018. He acknowledged the exhaustive efforts of Minister Duma and Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) over the past three years in resuscitating the ailing enterprises.
“In 2018, all of them were in the intensive care unit. Air Niugini, Water PNG, PNG Power Ltd, and all the others had massive problems,” said Prime Minister Marape.
“They were on the verge of going to the morgue when we pulled them back and resuscitated them.”
He emphasised the need for patience and recognition of the ongoing reforms, stating, “If someone has been sick for so long, do you expect him to get up and walk right away? Have some space and respect for the reforms that are taking place. They will not happen overnight.”
Expressing gratitude to Minister Duma and his team, Prime Minister Marape commended their dedication to steering SOEs on the path to recovery. He asserted that since assuming office, his government’s primary focus has been to stabilise, invest, and foster the growth of State-Owned Enterprises.
“Just because it has not been done before does not mean that it cannot be done,” Prime Minister Marape said.
“All it requires is competency, consistency, investment, and hard work.”
Reflecting on the progress made over the past three years, he acknowledged that life is gradually returning to all State-Owned Enterprises. While recognising that full efficiency may not have been achieved, he emphasised the positive developments aligning with the vision to rejuvenate SOEs for the benefit of the nation.
Prime Minister Marape credited a robust policy programme for attracting support from global entities such as the World Bank, Australia, Korea, Japan, China, and other development partners. He highlighted that the SOEs are now starting to present unqualified reports, indicating a positive shift in their performance.
“This may be far from excellent; however, it shows that something good is starting to happen in SOES,” Prime Minister Marape said.
“We came from a place rife with corruption, rife with abuse, rife with nepotism, with State-Owned Enterprises that were sinking.”
Prime Minister Marape called on the public to use Minister Duma’s statement as a reference point to hold him and his team at KCH accountable for the ongoing reforms.