All official travel to be vetted by PM’s office

Prime Minister James Marape announced that from now on, all official travel must be personally approved by his office and the office of the Chief Secretary.

He said this is to ensure that expenditure is reined in and to eliminate the continued waste due to unnecessary travel.

He made this statement during a press briefing yesterday to confirm that pressing domestic issues have resulted in him forgoing the 74th United Nations General Assembly, as well as the cancellation of the large delegation that was supposed to accompany him.

Marape said he was informed that the delegation that had been proposed to accompany him to New York comprised of some 55 officials at a cost of more than K1.2 million.

“That is not acceptable, and I have personally directed that travel for the majority of the delegation be cancelled,” he stated.

“Just five or six essential staff members will travel with Foreign Minister, Soroi Marepo Eoe, who I have every confidence, with the assistance of our highly capable team at Kundu New York, will represent our interests when the General Assembly meets.

“I also want to make it clear that it is my expectation that all Department and Agency Heads, and all Heads of State Owned Enterprises will remain in PNG at all times,” Prime Minister Marape said.

“Travel outside of PNG should only be for exceptional reasons, and only after the appropriate approvals have been obtained. In this day and age, the need for expensive travel must be re-assessed.

“With the advent of information and communication technologies, we have great capacity to communicate from PNG to anyone, anywhere in the world, by phone, internet and through video conferencing.

“The days of traveling for the purpose of face to face communication are gone. We must embrace and use these technologies.”

The Prime Minister said PNG also has a wide diplomatic network overseas and he is of the view that the Government and Bureaucracy must make better use of diplomats to engage and represent the interests of PNG across a broad range of portfolios.

He said this is about ensuring we achieve value for money and maximise our existing resources.

“I want to place on record my belief in the importance of the General Assembly meeting and the role of the United Nations.

“This is particularly the case in relation to climate change, which remains a very real and urgent issue for PNG and the islands of the Pacific.

“Minister Eoe will address the General Assembly on my behalf and use the opportunity to re-state Papua New Guinea’s call for developed nations to do more to halt the effects of climate change, and to adhere to obligations under the Paris Agreement.

“The fact is that climate change is impacting our country and our people as I speak.”

Prime Minister Marape emphasised that PNG can no longer be silent on this matter.

“It is a life and death situation, and we have an obligation to provide continued leadership in the Region and to speak up and ensure that the issue receives continued global prominence,” he said.

 “I am focused on delivering for the people of PNG,” Prime Minister Marape reiterated.

“My time is best placed here, with our people, addressing the challenges that we face.

“We are currently working on addressing issues related to the 2019 budget and preparing for the year ahead.

“The 2020 budget will require fiscal discipline, and must be focused on harnessing economic opportunity, eliminating unnecessary waste, and re-investing in critical services.

“That is why in the October session of Parliament we will first hand down a 2019 supplementary budget.

“Since assuming Government we have always said that there will be a need to review core economic assumptions based on revenue and expenditure.”

Prime Minister Marape said 2019 has been a challenging year.

“Fluctuating commodity prices and the continued impact from natural disasters have hit our bottom line. This will require that we re-adjust,” he said.

“Our continued core focus must be on the critical sectors of health, education, law and order and infrastructure.

“Both the supplementary budget, and the upcoming 2020 budget will reflect this.

“Whilst this will mean making some difficult decisions around expenditure, I want to assure the people of PNG that we will do everything within our means to ensure that this does not affect the delivery of essential services.

“As Prime Minister, I will always put the needs of our people first, in line with our very clear agenda to take back PNG.

“I also have every confidence that over the next 12 months that the PNG economy will continue to perform strongly.

“Key contributors will be the Papua LNG Project, which will see substantial development benefits, economic spin offs and direct and indirect employment growth.

“We also continue to review arrangements for the Porgera Joint Venture and have agreed to a short extension to existing arrangements so that we may consider a proposal by the Joint Venture Partners.

“That is under active consideration and a decision will soon be made as to whether to agree to the proposed arrangements, or whether to pursue a different path.

“We also remain committed to the development of the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture.

“These projects will underpin our economy, and in turn enable us to invest in real and meaningful projects in areas such as agriculture and downstream manufacturing capability.”

Prime Minister Marape said this activities will in turn empower our people, generate economic and social benefits, and enrich the people of PNG, to take back PNG and determine our own destiny.

Press release