NUNI KULU’S OPENNING REMARKS
13TH PM BREAKFAST
1 FEBRUARY 2023
Hon. James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
Ian Tarutia, President Papua New Guinea Chamber Commerce and Industry Anthony Smare, President Papua New Guinea Chamber Mines and Petroleum Ministers of State and Members of Parliament
Members of Business Council
Ladies and Gentleman
I welcome you all to 13th Kina Bank Limited’s Back To Business Breakfast with the Prime Minister. As you all are aware, this event provides Prime Minister, members of his coalition and business executives to engage and share their priorities for 2023. This is PM Marape’s 6th breakfast and we look forward to hear his government’s 2023 priorities. We also look forward hearing 2023 Outlook presented by Greg and a Q&A time with Prime Minister and Moses David, Economist at Kina Bank Limited and a colleague Director Business Council PNG.
Recent commentary of 2023 indicate managing impacts of a global recession will be the preoccupation of the markets. From Europe’s energy supply reconfigurations, US increasing interest rates and recently Bank Of Japan’s increase on bond yields are all designed to 1st ensure, their citizens are insulated from the forecasted global shocks.
We have noted the Treasurer’s 14 Year “fiscal repair strategy” is the flagship of Marape – Rosso’s economic stability. Covering reforms in the fiscal and monetary space, the intent is clear: configure a stable economic policy that drives economic development. Reactions in the markets have been mixed. On the one side, welcoming stability, predictability and relief to households. These initiatives will no doubt bring relief to our people where the cost of living is exceedingly high and basic services remain a major challenge.
This comes at a time where retailers have indicated to me imported items have increased, consumption pattens are regressive and Foreign Direct Investment interest remains hopeful. Above all, seeking jobs and their retention remain unstable. Businesses are implementing their plans with this global and local reality: out of lock downs into supply shortages.
On the other side, concerns over fiscal and monetary policy matters impacting growth. Ranging from tax measures in the banking and telecommunications sector that will significantly impact expansion plans and impact other sectors that hold considerable investments for other sectors such as superannuation, impacting well over 1 million PNGns.
It is these issues that are core to why this Breakfast and the Privaet Gavamani Koneckt, a G2B engagement chaired by the Business Council PNG Executive Director and the Chief Secretary, exist. Getting on the same page with the problem statements and thereafter forging solutions is the key to these engagements and am thankful PM Marape and his cabinet have taken time to hear our concerns and more importantly work with us to find meaningful solutions.
This year, the G2B conversation must focus on the following:
Our market is unique in so far as the government actively collaborate on major Foreign Direct Investment projects. We urge stakeholders, private and public sector, to accelerate these projects so as to fire up jobs demand, consumption demand so that our MSMEs, local businesses, collaborators and partners are able to supply these projects. With global squeezes on supply and cost of logistics, these are indeed opportunistic times for the PNG private sector.
Cueing lines for services is a challenge not only for government. I should know, one of my KPIs is to reduce them in my branches. And a large part, where government and business have it right, is going digital. Not only will processes drastically improve, transparency and accountability is achieved. I’d like to congratulate Minister Maisu and his Secretary Matainaho’s ongoing efforts to build services that are making compliance seamless.
Papua New Guinea will continue to be outperformed by other economies due to its increasing regulatory environment. This has resulted in large compliance divisions, cautious expansion and ultimately abandoning investments. Through dialogue we must strike the balance on the role of business and government so that our people benefit from our respective skills, resources and partnerships.
G2G investments by the West and China are set to proliferate and this will bringing much needed investments on key supply chain routes and rehabilitating core utilities. Prime Minister, as you have said on many occasions, and we all agree, “we remain true to the values of the 8 million shareholders of our country.” Where our market promotes the multilateral trading system rules of open markets and limited government involvement, our workers are protected and adequately compensated and above all, citizens are free to express their views. These are PNG values that built our nation, build lasting friendships and positioned us as equals with our peers in the region.
Finally, this will be my last Breakfast with the PM as President of the Business Council. I’d like to personally thank you PM for your genuine collegiality. We both met weeks into our respective roles on 2019, you 3 weeks, me 3 days. I’ve learnt dialogue is a critical part of nation building. Just as our people sat around fires, halls, churches to discuss affairs of the village, we have emulated that at our level.
Many have regarded them as superficial and lacked genuine intent but I differ. We moved our nation forward in a time when in early 2020 opening markets was not supported by your peers around the world. Jobs were saved, businesses moved on and our people prevailed. 2021 normalcy returned and our numbers indicated our market was growing. 2022 – national election, indicator of a free nation, saw you and your colleagues determined to build on the foundations of your 2019 vision.
The future is always uncertain but conversations make them brighter. I encourage all of us to partake in them as Nation Building Is Everyone’s Business.