Barker on issues with rice market

INSTITUTE of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker, pictured, says plans to restructure the rice market should consider competition issues in a balanced manner for domestic growers and companies which import it.

Barker was responding to a recent explanation by Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Benny Allan on the delay of the Central Province Rice Project to be operated by Naime Agro Limited.

“This proposal of Naime’s has always appeared to be an exercise in securing a State-endorsed monopoly or near monopoly over rice sales,” he said.
“PNG needs a competitive market for rice and other staples as an essential part of its National Food Security Policy, as well as overall competition and macro-economic policy.

“But it also needs to provide support to those producing and marketing all staple foods, notably through improving national infrastructure to make it easier and more reliable for producers and traders to bring root crops and domestically-grown rice to the market.”Barker said there was a range of other measures to improve the

business environment for all agricultural production, marketing and processing in PNG, as highlighted in the recent National Agricultural Summit.
“It’s long been considered that the Naime proposal has largely been about trying to make money from a trading monopoly or near monopoly, rather than producing and trading domestically grown rice,” he said.

“But they should be welcomed to participate in the trade on a competitive basis, and investing in production – but not at the expense of PNG consumers, through higher prices generated by protective import duties and restrictions on competition.”

Barker said the credibility of the Naime Agro Industries Limited and the reputation of a particular principal owner should be a point of concern for the authorities.

The Price Control Bureau has been reactivated under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.

After deactivation in 2009, the Ministry of Finance has reactivated it to ensure traders, persons engaged in commercial activities and persons providing services do not take advantage of the recent Value Added Tax (VAT) increase to deprive consumers of the purchasing powers through raising prices of their goods and services on their shelves.

The Bureau was deactivated 8 years ago and left unattended but it was not repealed.

The current coalition Government led by the Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, is reactivating the Price Control Bureau under the Leadership of the Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Gaetan Pikioune.

During the first day of the current coalition partners, as outlined in the 100 Days Policy Plan, Activity 5 under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management medium and long term plan, the Government had mandated the Ministry of Finance to set up the Price Control Bureau.

Following the ongoing development, the Council of Ministers (COM) in its Decision 55 of 2016, sets out the clear mandates which calls for the establishment of a Price Control Bureau under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Corporate Service. And to immediately set up the Bureau.

The Council of Ministers’ 9th ordinary meeting approved that in the medium term a supplementary budget of Vt10 million be allocated to the Price Control Bureau and 2 Officers be undertaken.

The Council of Ministers also approved that a review of the Price Control Act and the Public Health Act be undertaken with a view to amalgamate the two legislations in order to collaborate in reducing NCD-related health risks from imported and locally produced goods to the population of Vanuatu.

The Council of Ministers in its decision also approved that the composition of the Prices Advisory Committee to be made by the Minister of Finance and Economic Management will be subject to another Council of Ministers (COM) paper.

The Council of Ministers also endorsed the idea to engage a technical advisor during the initial phases of establishing the Bureau with funding to be sourced externally and as part of the Terms of Reference (TOR) to also review other Act(s) relating to the issue of pricing. The Council of Ministers decision at the time agreed that these tasks should be undertaken within the next two months.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the process is now in place to implement and reactive the Price Control Bureau.

The ministry is reportedly mindful of the fact that traders, persons engaged in commercial activities, and persons providing services, are taking advantage of what the Ministry of Finance describes as minor increase in VAT, to deprive consumers.

The Ministry of Finance is now very determined to have the Price Control Office fully operational before the end of this fiscal year, a Ministry of Finance Official told the Daily Post.

He said, in the interim, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management is contracting the services of a prominent figure to operate the Bureau to implement the functions of the Bureau while the Government seeks to find a permanent solution, says the Ministry of Finance official.

The Ministry of Finance official says the ministry wants to protect the people of Vanuatu and all consumers from being taken advantage of by traders, persons engaged in commercial activities and persons providing services in raising prices of their goods and services at the shelves.

THE Labour Department has recognised and is impressed with the industrial award signed between Ramu NiCo Allied Workers’ Union and Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd, an official says.

Madang labour representative Peter Neimani, who was the negotiation chairman between the union and Ramu NiCo, said the registrar of the department was impressed with the quality and component of the award and agreements reached by the parties.

“The labour legistrar is happy and will register the award in the national gazette and make it a legal document in the next three years,” he said.
“I represent our department to congratulate all parties in reaching an understanding after six months of intense negotiation, despite the fact that most of the union members are new in the industrial issues.”

Nemane was speaking last Thursday during a gift presentation by union members to Ramu NiCo management at the company headquarters in Madang for reaching an amicable and win-win outcome.

Ramu NiCo vice-president Wang Baowen said the company strived to ensure its employees were looked after and got the right training and up-skilling.

“Ramu NiCo has received many gifts from the landowners, but this gift is better as it demonstrates a good understanding and working relationship between our employees and the management,” he said.

“The company understands the employees’ expectations on pay increase, training and up-skilling.

“We would like to support that, depending on the project success.

“Our training centre at Basamuk is now launched and KBK Mine will be the same.”

Baowen said the project had reached its designed production capacity in 2016. The employers also contributed to this great achievement.
Union treasurer Gene Mangoa thanked Ramu NiCo for reaching an understanding in finalising the industrial award.

“What the union members need is a fair pay rise, proper training and up-skilling,” he said.

The industrial award negotiation which started in July last year was signed in Madang on Jan 5.



THE first phase of the recommencement of landowner beneficiary identification (LOBID) within PNG LNG Project impact areas has been completed, Department of Petroleum and Energy spokesperson says.

The spokesperson said that the completed areas were for the pipeline segments starting from Kikori, in Gulf, to Beneria, in Hela.

Last November, Petroleum Minister Fabian Pok announced that the LOBID exercise had recommenced.
“Moran PDL 5 (petroleum development licence) was also completed while Gobe and Kutubu are subject to disputes settlement in court,” the spokesperson said.

“Department of Petroleum is preparing for final ministerial determination for Mineral Resources Development Company) to open up bank accounts for the respective impacted clans, so the royalty and equity benefits will be paid to those completed impacted beneficiaries.
“Meanwhile, clan-vetting will resume in February for Hides PDL1 and PDL 7.

Juha PDL 9 will be conducted in Koroba for Hela landowners and in Kiunga or Soabi for Western landowners.

Angore PDL 8 will be subject to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), resuming mediation process to identify the beneficiary clans.

The success of the first phase was dependent on local and provincial leaders and logistical support provided by ExxonMobil and Oil search. The clan-vetting team experienced no issues that may cause delays to the vetting.”

Pok said that following the successful completion of the distribution of royalty benefits in the plan site area last month, DPE had focused on resumption and completion of the landowner beneficiary identification – formerly known as clan-vetting programme) in other project areas.

“This is useful consultative process which enables me to then make an official ministerial determination under Sec 169 and Sec 170 of the Oil and Gas Act (1998) and allow the benefits to be distributed to the beneficiaries,” he said.


Kava exporter: it’s time to take advantage of high prices and grow the industry

A Fijian kava exporter is urging Pacific people to focus on commercial operations rather than small subsistence farming following last month’s lifting of a European Union kava export ban.

Lami Kava director Donny Jason Yee, whose family has been farming kava since the 1970s, said now is the time to take advantage of high kava prices and grow the industry, RNZI reports.

Mr Yee said the local market in Fiji was fiercely competitive, worth $US148 million annually, and the biggest challenge export-wise was competing with Vanuatu.

Currently, Fiji farm gate prices range per kilogram between about $US45 – $60 and kava roots retail at $US50- $75.

While it is still early days for him to see any benefits from the EU, he said there’s no doubt the kava export market is growing.

For example he said one of the kava bars in the US he supplies provides a service to Russian clients.

Posted by  | Jan 19, 2018 | Vanuatu News

Jhon Y. Kwano, the owner of as a start-up minimarket in West Papua says business in Melanesia is still done in service to the colonial masters, not to help ourselves in our regional economy. He points out for example, most of the business deals are done between Melanesian nation-state with western countries like New Zealand, Australia, Europe, China and the United States, in serving the needs and wants of the so-called “colonial powers in postmodern era”.

He continues that there was an agreement signed by Melanesian leaders to encourage business initiatives and cooperation among Melanesian business entities, across Melanesian regions. However, so far, there seems to be nothing happening. All Melanesian leaders are focusing their work and spending their energy and time on serving the needs and wants of their master colonial countries. For Kwano this is an indication that Melanesian countries are somewhat independent politically, but economically we are still under colonial control. Only until we are free from colonial influence in doing business, then we will be sure that were are independent, free from strong colonial influence.

Jhon acknowledges that Melanesia is part of the global community and cannot be isolated from global interactions and business deals, however he argues that the deals and interactions should first start among Melanesians first. He gives examples that his Cooperative, KSU Baliem Arabica based in Wamena, West Papua right now produced the Wamena Single Orign Arabica Coffee, already been sold to the USA, South Korea, Hong Kong and Europe, but never been sold to any of the Melanesian countries. Furthermore he adds New Guinea also the only producer of the Red Pandanus Oil in the world, but only Asian consumers are buying and selling this product, and never been traded among Melanesian peoples. Another obvious example is regarding Kava trade. Recently news from Vanuatu and sometime ago from Fiji reported some problems with Kava Ban with some European countries that triggered business lobby and frustration on the seller countries.

Jhon says if Kava is sold to Papua New Guinea and West Papua, then it will be more beneficial, both socially and economically. He says the biggest problem is when Melanesian leaders think about business and trade, they first off all think about colonial countries, not their own fellow Melanesian nation-states.

Kwano continues

I pray to God that Melanesian leaders, particularly current Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Vanuatu, to consider re-orientating business deals and activities among Melanesian peoples, and invite other Melanesian ministers of foreign affairs and trade to establish a Melanesian-to-Melanesian Business Policy.

West Papua under Group companies is ready to supply any products from inside West Papua, or from Papua New Guinea as well as from Indonesia with more reasonable price to all companies in Melanesia, but we should start thinking and acting to engage Melanesian business enterprises and entrepreneurs to interact and share experiences, resources and skills.

He says that there will be no colonial countries come to us and tell us what is best for our countries and our peoples, other than ourselves realizing this and action upon the insights and wisdom from ourselves. He adds “This is a way of thinking of a free man and women, not colonised mentality.”

Morobe man takes big bite into apple farming

Menyamya villager Eric John
Menyamya villager Eric John

Menyamya villager Eric John has registered an apple business and plans to develop an orchard on his land in Morobe.
John said he has seedlings in his nursery and has trees growing on his land.

His first seedlings came from an apple he bought in Lae in 2004 and he has since invested time and money on growing apples commercially.

“I have tried to seek assistance from local leaders but have received none since I started 10 years ago,” he said.
“I sell pigs to raise funds for pesticides and equipment for my nursery.
“I believe that we can grow apples like we grow coffee here in Papua New Guinea.”

John said he registered his business as HKVE Apple Farmers at the Investment Promotion Authority office in Lae on Monday.

HKVE stands for Hakwange, his village.

He has about 100 people from the village involved in the business.

“I give 10 to 20 young trees from my nursery to each member. We have agreed that half of the total trees that bear fruit belong to me and the others they keep,” he said.

Finding the money for pesticides was the major challenge, he said.

Pests have destroyed the apples and killed some trees.

The National Agriculture Research Institute has promised to help him with equipment for the nursery.

John has 10 mature trees from which he picks fruits to sell at the market in Menyamya and Lae.
He said he has two hectares of land ready for planting.


AFIC Committee Dissolved, Interim Manager Appointed

Barnabas Tabi, Founder and Director of AFIC is ordered not to interfere with any dealings of AFIC.
Barnabas Tabi, Founder and Director of AFIC is ordered not to interfere with any dealings of AFIC.

Director of the Apma Financial Investment Centre (AFIC) Barnabas Tabi was served with an order yesterday afternoon to hand in all files, keys, and assets of AFIC to the Registrar of Cooperatives and refrain from all dealings with AFIC in Port Vila or any of its branches.

The Registrar of Cooperative, Ridley Joseph authorised the order following a decision to dissolve the Committee of AFIC.

Manager Compliance and Assistant Registrar, Joe Iauko, explained that the Office of Cooperatives made the decision following a lot of complaints they were receiving from members of AFIC.

Despite words of assurance from the Director of AFIC himself last November, a lot of AFIC customers were reportedly confused and brought their frustrations to social media and questioning why they were not able to withdraw their money but were advised that they could only withdraw a certain amount of their money.

Investigations undertaken by Cooperatives revealed that AFIC allegedly failed to comply with recommendations that were brought to the attention of that financial institution following an audit in 2016.

Other interesting findings of the Cooperatives showed that AFIC is operated allegedly without a board of director.

All decisions were undertaken allegedly by the director himself. This has led to alleged unreliable decision including decisions of lending money to non-members.

Even Barnabas Tabi allegedly borrowed huge money from the institution to fund various projects under Bujunbana Holdings, a business registered under the name of Mr Tabi. There was also alleged over borrowing from some of its members which led to short fall in cash.

Operating a savings and loans business without a committee is defeating the whole principle component of Cooperatives which is promoting working togetherness and having the members as its owners, Iauko said.

In a letter addressed to Barnabas Tabi, Director of AFIC, the Cooperative Registrar stated, “In exercise of the power vested in me, under the Cooperative Act CAP 152, Part 11, Section 58 (1), (a), I am satisfied that the Committee of the Apma Financial Investment Centre Cooperative Savings and Loan Society is not performing its functions in a proper and business like manner and that in the circumstances of the case, it is fit that I as the Registrar of Cooperatives make this order to dissolve the existing committee.

“Further, in exercise of the power vested in me, under the Cooperative Societies (Rules) Order No. 37 of 1987 Subsidiary Legislation, Section 26 (1), I hereby order your removal from the office you are currently occupying and all dealings of the Apma Financial Investment Centre Cooperative Savings and Loans, throughout the country.”

Accordingly, Cooperative Registrar Ridley uses his power in compliance to Section 58, 1 (b), and appointed Hillary Waqanitoga, the Loans Officer to AFIC, to be the Interim Manager until such time when the Registrar sees fit to establish a Board of Directors to oversee AFIC Cooperative Savings and Loans.

In her capacity as the Administrator, Mrs. Waqanitoga was instructed to work with Compliance Manager of Office of the Registrar of Cooperatives & Business Development Services (ORCBDS) to fulfil recommendations, work with the Reserve Bank Vanuatu to fulfil recommendations as per RBV report, and ensure loan repayments are made from individuals and businesses including Bujunbana Holdings. She was also tasked to produce monthly progressive reports or as requested by the Registrar, she must be prepared to work with a Commission of Inquiry which will be appointed soon, take control of all AFIC branches and perform any other duties as required by the Registrar.

The dissolution of the Committee of AFIC and appointment of the Administrator/ Interim Manager became effective as of yesterday afternoon.

Barnabas Tabi founded AFIC in 2013 as a Cooperative Savings and Loans. It boasts to have 49 branches across the country with thousands of members.