Jun 22, 2018 Last Updated 11:16 PM, Jun 21, 2018

By Usa Koto

Haroon Ali is to be the new Country Head of Bank South Pacific in Fiji, the bank has just announced in a statement released a short while ago.

He succeeds Kevin McCarthy when he retires at the end of 2018.

Ali is currently BSP Group's chief risk officer currently based at bank headquarters in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and when the changeover starts in June, he will become the first Fijian to head BSP's business in Fiji.

“As a village boy from Vunimoli in Labasa, my dream has always been to become a bank’s country head in Fiji. I have worked hard over the years since joining Bank of New Zealand in 1980 and today I am really excited to have finally realised that dream. I am very passionate about this job and would like to thank the Group Chairman, Group CEO and the BSP Board for giving me this great opportunity to lead BSP in Fiji," the BSP statement quoted Ali as saying.

"I would also like to thank Mr McCarthy firstly for recruiting me to this great organisation and secondly for his outstanding leadership at BSP that has seen the Bank grow from strength to strength," added Ali.

He has 38 years of banking experience in Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea, and prior to joining BSP, Ali had worked for the ANZ Banking group.

PETER O’Neill starts 2018 on a high note with the country’s supreme court removing the threat of court action that has been hovering over his head since 2014. With his arrest warrant for official corruption quashed, the PNG Prime Minister can now concentrate on what is poised to be a crucial year with his hosting in November of APEC that is likely to bring to Port Moresby leaders of this 21-member organisation that will most probably include American President Donald Trump and Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan and Justin Trudeau of Canada.

Economists are attributing the flurry of construction activities in the lead up to the APEC Summit as a key contributing factor in the 2.2 per cent economic growth rate projected for PNG this year. The O’Neill Government is also hoping to see the progress of the controversial Solwara 1 seabed mining project this year. Despite opposition from local community groups who are backed by NGOs in Australia, the Nautilus Mineral owned project seeks to mine gold and copper in the Bismarck Sea, in PNG’s northeast waters. 

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Airports upgrade for PNG

Project opens up tourism possibiities

PAPUA New Guinea has embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade rural airports in an effort to develop the tourism industry and allow easier access for investors. This will include the construction of international airports at Mount Hagen in the highlands and Lae on the coast.

A new terminal building at Goroka Airport in the Eastern Highlands is nearing completion and with its associated runway improvements will be able to accommodate larger aircraft. International flights will also be possible from Goroka once the US$25million improvement project is completed by Chinese contractor, COVEC. National Airports Corporation, Chief Executive Officer, Richard Yopo, said NAC was committed to improving airport infrastructure throughout the country.

“The project will be funded by the Asian Development Bank and will see the upgrading of the aircraft pavement, a new terminal building and associated works,” he said. COVEC was awarded the contract despite a court action in which it was found guilty of illegally extracting road-building material owned by local landowners...

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PNG spending cutback

PNG spending cutback

STRUGGLING with cash flow problems and high debt burden, the Papua New Guinea government through its 2018 budget has announced new fiscal strategy to stabilise debts and recover from revenue collapse. The government wants to shift its debt from commercial to concessional loans to reduce its high interest costs and hopes the shift will help solve PNG’s longstanding problems with foreign exchange. It has again promised to pursue a US dollar sovereign bond issue, after difficulty finding any market appetite over the previous two years.

It has slashed spending over the previous two years, but is now introducing a 1 billion kina (US$311m) “stimulus package” with a US$31 million State Equity Fund to partner with private investors on agriculture projects. These measures it announced in the budget which it hopes to achieve under three pillars.

As highlighted in a budget analysis by Deloitte, the 2018 Budget is ambitious and looks to implement a medium term fiscal strategy, centred on the following pillars:...

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THE Papua New Guinea Government has finally decided to shut down illegal logging leases that have enriched foreign companies and dispossessed traditional landowners. The decision would put an end to a dubious agriculture and business purposes scheme where an estimated more than 5.2 million hectares of customary land around the country had been alienated for ‘special agriculture activities’ over virgin forest tracts containing tropical hardwoods.

It was estimated that more than 400 leases had been issued over customary land since the early 1980s to 2013. The country’s new Lands Minister, Justin Tkatchenko, has announced a committee to review the 175 controversial Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) with objective to cancel the leases. Mr Tkatchenko said a Customary Land Advisory Committee would deal with the SABLs which, he said, was a long-outstanding issue and one that was advertised all around the world.

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