Greetings to you all friends and citizens of PNG, I am happy to be in touch with you all once again.
It is now 18 days since I assumed office as PM and I have made many statements on what we intend to do and as of last week I have issued draft duty statements to our Ministers of State for their input so that collectively we will know what we are doing to “take back our country/economy” and to deliver our country as “the richest black Christian nation” on earth, where not one child born into our country irrespective of color, ethnicity, religion or politics is left behind.
Firstly may I say, I make my statements off script emanating from my inner core but they are consistent and coherent with views of many of my compatriots both serving in Parliament with me and many of you outside, and I make no apologies for statements of intend I make thus far.
Some public servants and other politicians may find offensive or unachievable and that’s your mindset but I have elevated the level of imagination the highest any leader can dream for his country and I am willing to travel that road, tho tough it may be for a start.
Dreams are free, I have dreamt it but work of reconstruction must start now. And that is very possible in a nation that is blessed with minerals, oil and gas, forestry, agriculture potentials, marine and aquaculture potentials, culture and tourism, water, our strategic location in between eastern economies and western economies and many other intrinsic God given resources we have in this motherland.
The manner of harvest of these resources under better term sheet will be my journey and story. This journey hopefully will lead our country to the destination our children deserve.
The destination in 2030 should be a nation where people are economically self sufficient, where best medicine and medical practices are available to all of our people, where every children have equal opportunities in education and employment, where police and law and justice sector is working firmly and fairly and our girls and mothers and everyone is safe always, where religious freedom is abound, where digital innovations drives our education, medication and economy, all parts of our country is connected by top class public infrastructures like roads, ports and airports,,all these and many more are achievable if myself and all who are with me in public service today put forth collective efforts and stay the course.
To get there, the following are few things off my head I am putting forward that we intend to do, and I require all of you who want to lead public service organizations under my watch to dissect and advise me on your sector strategies going forward from 2020 to 2030.
I have proposed a two prong approach hence I have divided the cabinet into two inter working sectors, the economic sector interventions that especially deals with raising revenues and prudent expenditures in the social and development sector that ensures better quality services are reaching our people in an environment that is free from systematic wastage through corruption and complacency.
ECONOMIC SECTOR INTERVENTIONS
Succinctly below are some key benchmarks myself and Treasurer will co lead as we seek to reconstruct our economy for the better.
Key economic benchmarks and tasks to undertake includes;
⁃ re assessment of 2019 budget and deliver state of economy statistics to ensure our budgets for rest of 2019 and going forward are anchored on solid achievable numbers;
⁃ Make redundant lesser priority areas in budget including taking control over salary overrun and office rental expenditures;
⁃ Stop non economic stimulant programs including loans to projects of insignificance;
⁃ Ramp up access to international grant facilities already open to PNG like the EUs and other global grants available as well as drawing down on productive loans already secured;
⁃ Do a forensic audit into all levels of companies operating in country to ensure they are all tax and fees compliant;
⁃ All resource projects coming up for reviews to be negotiated with the view to gain now for our country with no more concessions, tax deductions or wavering of fees etc.
⁃ promulgation of policies and legislations to ensure downstream processing of our natural resources be given highest order of priority and all resources companies in all sectors who want to participate in harvest of our resources must come up with a clearer and quicker ways to do downstream processing. Gone are the days someone was telling us you can’t do gold bullion in country or you can’t process timber in country or we can’t have petro chemical industries in country, or we can’t grow rice and cattle in country are some examples of adding value to our resources;
⁃ I am looking at possibilities of auctioning some of our resources that will be freed up soon so the best proponents of net take back for PNG become our partners in resource harvest and for starters, in Porgera and Ramu mines review coming up this year, I am looking at greater tax and equity take for PNG ( including PGs and LOs);
⁃ We will push to ensure all projects in country are bringing revenues back to PNG holding accounts for distribution to their JV partners out of their management company’s holding account through our central bank;
⁃ Clearer dividend policies for our SOE and no entrapment of money in SOEs with priority diagnosis into their books as matter of priority;
⁃ We also looking at giving tax incentives to SME and existing tax compliant business in country for them to invest more in country. Depending on the space in 2020 budget we will put some funding for very soft long term loans for PNG businesses;
⁃ Implement local content in our contract procurements;
⁃ Proper costed projects be issued contracts based on availability of funds;
⁃ We will be dividing the country into economic zones and to tailor infrastructure development based on the local economy’s need;
⁃ Cheaper and reliable electricity plus less costly Morden ICT platform is a must;
Apart from other policies and economic programs we will further embrace, above are few that comes to my mind as I write early this morning to pass message to you all, especially our key public servant leaders to better appreciate my mind.
To our companies in PNG, you do not need to fear, just honor our lawful directions and you will be okay. If our country and our citizens are happy and wealthy and self sustaining, you businesses too will grow from this healthy and business conducive environment.
In my experiences as Finance Minister for almost 7 years, I am of the view that we need to lift our cash revenue threshold to over K15 billion mark in the next two years and beyond to deliver positively into the development plans of 2020s that can positively impact our country for the better, unlike the last few years where actual cash collection did not surpass K10billion in the last few years.
SOCIAL SECTOR INTERVENTIONS
To ensure that our economic reforms and windfalls are secured for the betterment of our country, I have tasked our Deputy PM, the Honorable Davis Steven to take charge of what I term as internal security matters.
The security of our country and our economy is depend on an appropriately educated population, a healthy and wealthy population who are productive and law abiding. This will mean we undertake the following;
⁃ Fight systematic wastage through both corruption and complacency;
⁃ Reconstruct key corruption fighting institutions of State like Police and magisterial/judicial services, Ombudsman etc;
⁃ Affirmative progression of Whistle blowers Act as well as Independent Commission Against Corruption ( need to ascertain their role and other similar organizations like Police prosecutors and ombudsman so there are no functional duplication and for ease and efficiency of mandate);
⁃ Our education system must expand with space for all children in our country without compromising quality interventions. We splitting elementary, primary and secondary into the care of Minister for Education and free education will continue. We anticipate to have no child leaving school until after year 12, we want to deliver this in the next 10 years.
⁃ Our colleges are now moved into the care of Minister for Tertiary Education. In the next 10 years we want to create over 30,000 tertiary education spaces and I have a game plan for this I will work with Minister for Tertiary Education to deliver. As a government we will put an endowment fund for students and parents to borrow from to pay students school fees that will be an almost interest free loan scheme;
⁃ Every 22 provinces must have fully functional Morden healthcare and our key regional hospitals to acquire specialized care status to treat cancers and other special health care needs. Again we want to achieve world class status in the health care sector, it is within people’s rights;
⁃ Good policing of our laws where mothers and daughters and society is safe and secure is what we want to achieve in 10 years too;
When our borders are secured through the above and other social sector programs will we improve from the gains of our economy.
Before I finish this early write up of my statement of intend (what I will endeavor to do) , may I mention our friends from Bougainville; while my cabinet and departments running other work, we will all be on standby to assist in referendum preparations as well as reconstruction of Bougainville now and into the future.
May I stop writing now but I had to do the above write up the last two hours on what I feel we must do as a government. My Pangu Party will entail an expanded version of what I have expounded here.
In the next few weeks we will be working with Ministers and their respective departments to tidy on these directions here plus their own policy views so that we deliver better to our country and our people.
For now my apologies for rough write up here as well as a public utterances on what we intend to do as a government; but my thoughts are that the public must know what we up to as a government hence my public dissemination here this morning.