Take back PNG’s SOEs: Minister

Consistent with the mantra of the Marape Government, the State Owned Enterprises Minister’s New Year’s resolution is to take back PNG’s SOEs.

“2020 will be a year of transformational change for Papua New Guinea,” said Minister Sasindran Muthuvel.

“In the next 12 months, we will need to take decisions that will fundamentally impact our nation’s development in the decade that follows. This includes determining our approach to major resource projects; maximising the value of our trade and economic partnerships; and charting a path for the reform of our public services.

“We must be simultaneously measured and bold in our decision making to grasp the opportunities that the 2020s will bring to Papua New Guinea. We have not always succeeded in making the most of such opportunities in the past - but this is a new year and a new decade. It is a chance for us to show we can do better for our communities and our nation.

“As Minister for State Owned Enterprises, I am committed to doing my part to make Papua New Guinea a better, more prosperous and more harmonious place in 2020. This starts by recognising that we cannot develop our nation without ensuring that all Papua New Guineans have access to the basic services, which are the building blocks of our future prosperity.

“Our state owned enterprises (SOEs) will play a key role in allowing us to maximise the value of the opportunities that will come in the decade ahead. The Marape Government has recognised the key role our SOEs play in delivering the basic services that Papua New Guineans need to improve their lives.

“SOEs are responsible for delivering affordable energy to power schools and hospitals; mobile and internet communications to connect the country and enable business; and clean water to communities throughout the country.

“For too long our SOEs have been unable to deliver the services our people and communities deserve. It is easy to blame the entities themselves, but the root causes of these issues are many.

“Ever since the early 2000s, the SOEs have been undermined by political interference and cronyism. This has resulted in chronic underperformance that has effectively deprived our people of the basic building blocks they need to prosper.

“As Minister for State Owned Enterprises, I am committed to driving meaningful reforms that will turn this situation around.

“Without access to affordable energy, businesses cannot improve their productivity and children cannot study in the evenings. Without access to clean and reliable water, our investments in public health are undermined. And poor telecommunications services inhibit commerce and isolate our communities. We cannot leave our people to suffer isolation and poor health in the darkness any longer!

“The work to address this critical challenge for our nation has already started – the comprehensive reform agenda we prepared during the latter half of 2019 has seen both the Asian Development Bank and Australia strongly endorse our restructuring program. It was the key driver behind the decision of these entities to provide more than US$1bn in budget support to PNG during 2020 – reflecting their desire to support what is the most comprehensive SOE reform program in our region in many years.

“2019 was a year of careful analysis and planning. This reflected the complex nature of the challenges facing our government business enterprises which required careful consideration. But 2020 will be a year of action – we will commence major restructuring of our SOEs in key sectors such as energy and telecommunications to ensure they deliver the services our people require.

“The changes will be challenging and sometimes controversial. But they are needed to make sure we are in a position to grasp the opportunities ahead. And we must do this for our nation, our communities and our children.

“I am excited by the opportunities the new year will bring. I am anticipating a successful, prosperous and happy 2020 working with my team in the ministry. I wish all Papua New Guineans the same.

“God bless you, your families and most of all, Papua New Guinea.”

Press release