Jan 15, 2010

BPNG improves national pay system

THE Central Bank through its development program is working towards improving the country's national pay system.

The bank's newly appointed governor Loi Bakani revealed this following the recent launch of the National Payments System Development prgramme at a seminar hosted in association with the Institute of National Affairs (INA) on 30 November, 2009.

Finance and Treasury minister, Patrick Pruaitch who gave the keynote address has expressed the Government's support for the reform. The Retired Governor, Sir Wilson L Kamit CBE also presented this Development Programme on the National Payments System at a breakfast organised by the PNG Business Council on 04 December 2009.

According to the bank's press statement the programme will see the introduction of a number of key elements that will significantly improve the safety and efficiency of the payments system in Papua New Guinea.

The first element the bank noted is an Automated Transfer System (ATS) which will provide real time electronic clearing and settlement of all interbank payments.

"The ATS will bring significant benefits to everyone in PNG" said the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea Mr Loi Bakani. "Not only will it work towards the elimination of risk, it will encourage banks and other financial institutions to introduce a range of new and innovative services".

Mr Bakani stated that "With the introduction of direct debits and credits, the system will have the ability for people to make payments to businesses or service providers, irrespective of who they bank with".

The Bank is also introducing a Central Securities Depository that will hold Bank of PNG and Government issued securities such as Central Bank Bills, Treasury bills and Inscribed Stock. This system will make the purchase of securities much more efficient by giving on line access to approved dealers, and encourage a secondary market for trading of these securities.

The Governor also announced that the reform to the payments system includes the establishment of a National Payments Council (NPC), a body representing the wider interests of the financial sector and he noted: "It is essential when introducing such wide ranging reforms that the financial community, and others affected by the changes are fully consulted and involved". The NPC will provide oversight and guidance to the Bank of PNG during the course of implementing the programme.

"We believe that this development programme will see the financial sector and the country as a whole well positioned to take full advantage of the significant economic changes that will occur in Papua New Guinea over the coming years".
The implementation of this reform will commence with the assistance of an experienced international consulting firm. Further consultations with major stakeholder will be undertaken during the implementation phases.

The Governor urged major stakeholders to cooperate with the Bank in implementing this very important reform in Papua New Guinea.

bemobile establishes customer base in Solomon Islands

NEW mobile service provider bemobile says it plans to attract at least 25,000 customers by the end of this year.

The Papua New Guinea-based company under its recently issued licence is required to start operations in April this year and cover about 80 per cent of the country in its first year.

According to Solomon Star news bemobile's chief executive officer Julien Coustaury and his team arrived this week in Honiara to begin ground work.

The company has engaged sub-contractors that included engineers, civil engineers, human resource personnel, as well as local and foreign technicians.

"We have about 50 people on the ground both expatriates and locals who are teaming up to start the work," he said.

He said recruitments will start soon, with the creation of between 200-300 new jobs.

Mr Coustau ry said in areas where Solomon Islands does not have the skills, overseas experts will be sought.
"But in the coming years, bemobile Solomon Islands will be operated by 95-98 per cent Solomon Islanders," he said.

Mr Coustaury said ground work started in December straight after Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua issued them their licence.

"This is done without any office," he said.

He said a new office will be established soon but the CEO declined to reveal where they will be operating from.

Mr Coustaury said he already visited parts of Guadalcanal since arriving in the country and if weather permits his team will travel to other nearby islands today to look for and survey potential sites.

He said the company will launch its services by mid this year and rollout to other provinces from there.

He also clarified that they've applied for a business licence under PNG bemobile which is still legal and they hope to get their licence soon.

"All paper works have been done, our delay earlier is due to other missing paper works before the licence was issued," he said.

The new company will be called bemobile Solomon Islands.

The French man yesterday assured Solomon Islanders of the best and quality services that will be affordable.

He said they are excited about the new development and thanked everyone for having trust in them.
"We want to send a message to the Solomon Islands. You can count on us," he said.

BSP opens doors on Saturdays


BANK South Pacific (BSP) yesterday open its doors giving opportunities to parents nationwide to start applying for school fee loan services for their children's school fee needs.

BSP Branches will be open every Saturday, which commenced yesterday, Saturday 16th January until 27th February 2010.

BSP says it understands the importance of education for your children, so to assist you with School Fee Loan requirements, such as loans and school fee payments; BSP will open every Saturday from 9am to 3pm just to help you.

The bank also noted that for every successful School Fee Loan application, an option will be given to customers to purchase a BSP School Bag and BSP Pencil Case. A complimentary Kilometric Set comprising a ruler, pencil sharpener and eraser will be included.

They have called on parents to call into their nearest BSP branch and see the friendly BSP staff who will help process their School Fee Loan requirements.

Budget accommodates shipping services in New Ireland

A REGULAR shipping service offering cut price freight reductions by almost half has came into force in the least developed area of southern New Ireland that promises breakthrough in economic development for people of the "last kona."

This has come into action since the announcement of the 2010 Budget by the Governor Sir Julius Chan last December.

Announcing this, the Governor, Sir Julius said the outcome of the successful negotiations between his Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the maiden voyage was launched within one month of the special arrangements with the first ship sailing into Danfu recentlyfor the trial run.

Sir Julius said the ship will complete a route which will take in Rei, Morokon, Bakok, and around the southern tip to Lambom, Kaboman, Watpi and Palabong in the Konoagil area before sailing into Rabaul on what is contracted to become a monthly shipping service.

The Governor said "this is the first time such a service was ever offered the forgotten areas."

"As announced in my Budget Speech we will not only provide a regular shipping service but in addition a subsidized freight arrangement that will give our people in the 'last kona' equivalent access to market facilities."

Sir Julius said those people have missed out on the good things and they never ask which makes this ADB project very significant.

The cost for both freight and passenger fare have been cut by almost half on the current rates which will enable the people to enjoy greater price benefits.

                        Before                  Now
Cocoa    -   K 20 per bag              K10 per bag
Copra    -   K 15 per bag              K10 per bag

Cargo    -   K65 per cubic             K40 per cubic

Adult fare -  K 60                          K 40
Students -    K 45                          K 25
Children -    K 30                          K 15

"This is a great freight and subsidy package, making Konoagil comparable to Namatanai and Kavieng.

Sir Julius said that while the new shipping route opens, road work is continuing on the Weilo to Silur road on the east coast of Namatanai while workmen resumed this week on the west coast construction of the Burukalai - Palabong and Burukalai - Kokola roads after the festive holidays.

The Governor said he hope this project with the Asian Development Bank will be successful and continued.

Stocks soar in 2010

THE new decade is off to a bullish start with most PNG-focused companies making gains as copper, gold and oil prices remain strong.

The London Metal Exchange official cash price for copper is steady at $US7594 a tonne, while the three-month delivery price shed 1.63 percent yesterday to $7610/t.

LME official cash prices for nickel shed 1 percent to $18,750/t, while the three-month price fell by the same amount to $18,850/t.

Singapore's Tapis crude closed at $US83.64 per barrel overnight, up 1.3 percent for 2010 so far but down slightly from the $84/bbl set midweek as encouraging industrial production figures helped push up the US dollar.

Spot gold is looking strong at $US1131.27 per ounce, falling a mere 0.67 percent in the last 24 hours.

Proving that the first week of the year in trading is often positive, stocks around the world have staged rallies, with PNG explorers and producers being no exception.

InterOil has grabbed more attention, with some reports suggesting it has struck a stripping plant deal with Mitsui though the company has not made any announcements.

Last month's world record gas flow at Antelope-2 of 705 million cubic feet of gas per day is impressive, and it also yielded 11,200 barrels of condensate per day.

Mitsui attended the gas flow and InterOil looks set to gain quick cash flow from the condensate, and even more if Antelope-2 uncovers an oil leg in the coming weeks.

The NYSE-listed company also landed a long-awaited project agreement with the PNG government before Christmas.

Shares in InterOil are up 7 percent for the week while the world waits for more news from Antelope-2.

Vangold Resources shares are up almost 90 percent following a stock split and further progress on its planned spin-off into separate Vanoil and Vangold listings, as well as its acquisitions in PNG.

Developments with PNG LNG have Oil Search shares safely over the $6 mark, while an Abu Dhabi sovereign fund waits for the price to reach $8.55 as part of a 2008 financing deal with the PNG government.

Highlands Pacific was a standout on both the Australian Securities Exchange and the Port Moresby Stock Exchange in the last week, and was undoubtedly one of the better performing stocks of 2009. Closing at 8.3c a year ago, it is now at 38.5c.

PX selects firm to provide expertise

THE national flag career, Air Nuigini has selected Dubai-based Mercator to provide its loyalty and customer relationship management solution, CRIS (Customer Relationship Information System) to create and manage its frequent flyer programme.

'Destinations' is Papua New Guinea's first ever frequent flyer programme and offers Air Nuigini passengers the opportunity to earn a point for every kina spent on travel with the carrier.

Air Nuigini, which operates scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 28 domestic and international destinations across Asia, Oceania and Australia, selected Mercator's CRIS programme after an extensive and detailed evaluation. Their choice was based on the product's state-of-the-art functionality, technical capability and Mercator's renowned round the clock support.

Wasantha Kumarasiri, CEO of Air Niugini, said, "We recognise the value of having our own loyalty programme to reward our customers. Our market, valuable passengers and staff are excited with this new initiative and keen to make it a success. Our valuable customers will now see that their loyalty is rewarded. We selected Mercator because of their superior capabilities and proven results. I am confident this partnership will grow in the years to come."

CRIS, created and developed by Mercator's specialist team in Dubai, has been designed to effectively manage both a customer relationship and a frequent flier programme within one single integrated system. The loyalty solution is versatile and flexible and can also be used for non aviation businesses. Recently the solution was implemented for their Dubai-based customer Etisalat, the UAE's largest telecommunications provider.

Duncan Alexander, Vice President, Sales and Market Development, Mercator, said, "This partnership is very significant for us. We now have customers for CRIS worldwide - in Africa, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, managing millions of frequent flier accounts allowing our airline customers to add value to both customer service and help in bringing about commercial success."