By REBECCA KUKU
The K280mil recently approved by the National Executive Council for the State of Emergency Covid-19 response was raised domestically, according to Controller David Manning.
He told The National yesterday that details of the funding would have to be given by the Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey.
Manning denied that it came out of the K1 billion raised recently through local bond financing.
“But as I mentioned last week, the K280mil now approved by the NEC is separate from the K45m previously approved for the Department of Health’s Covid-19 response and preparedness plans.
“The K45mil was approved before the state of emergency, and, so far, only K23mil had been drawn down from it.
“So this K280mil is separate from the K45mil and is for the Covid-19 state of emergency operations.
“Most of the money will be used for the health response and of course the security aspect of it as well. But most will be for health as this is a health state of emergency.”
Manning explained that the reason why the other K22.5mil from the K45.5mil approved by the NEC for the Department of Health had not been released yet was because the first lot had not been used up.
“There is still some money from the K23mil drawn down left in the Trust Account ,” he said.
“So once that is expedited, Treasury will release the other K22.5mil.
“But again, let me stress that the K45.5mil was for the Health Department and approved before the national emergency.
“It will be used for health and security operations, but with more emphasis on health.”
The K280mil was approved by the National Executive Council last week under the economic response to support the health and security response to the Covid-19 state of emergency.
Australia flies in supplies, defence force personnel
AUSTRALIA yesterday brought over medical supplies and defence force personnel to support PNG’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Royal Australian Air Force aircraft arrived in Port Moresby with supplies including 12,000 rapid test kits, 380 GeneXpert test equipment and more than 1,000 cartridges.
Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner Caitlin Wilson handed over the supplies at Jackson Airport to Minister for Health and HIV-AIDS Jelta Wong.
The Australian defence force personnel will, after completing the mandatory 14-day isolation, contribute to Australia’s defence cooperation programme.
They will support the PNG military prepare for any outbreak.
Wilson said: “This delivery marks a major additional contribution towards PNG’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.
“It has been made possible through strong cooperation and goodwill between the PNG and Australian defence forces, and our two governments.”
Wong thanked Australia for the support.
Informal sector badly hit: Barker
By DALE LUMA
THE informal economy has been badly affected by the state of emergency lockdown, together with the travel and tourism industries, says economist Paul Barker.
Barker, the Institute of National Affairs executive director, said people in the informal sector depended on the trading of agriculture products.
“The biggest number of households affected have been those in the informal economy, dependent upon the sale or trading of agricultural products in urban areas,” he told The National.
“Also, some other cash crops and services interrupted by the travel restrictions, and small and micro trading and catering in the urban informal markets.”
Barker said apart from some relief measures provided by city authorities, working with some churches and non-government organisations, “none of the indicated measures were in place to assist the affected micro-enterprises and households”.
“Nevertheless, the virus itself and the lockdown and subsequent measures, together, have had a major impact upon businesses large and small, starting particularly with the travel and tourism industries,” he said.
“It includes aviation, restaurants and hospitality, which employs some 10 per cent of the global workforce, with similar numbers in PNG, with its high dependence on aviation.
“Parts of the extractive sector and vegetable oil producers, and a range of transport and urban-based, including manufacturing businesses have been badly hit, affecting revenue.”
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey said recently the informal sector was worth around K12 billion a year and its impact on the lives of the people was revealed in the national audit of the informal economy report.
He said the informal economy involved vulnerable people including women, the elderly and people living with disability, “all of whom may be excluded from the formal economy and need some flexibility about where they work and their working hours”.
AIR Niugini is continuing operations with strict health and safety measures in place as per the state of emergency order.
“We are operating services to almost all domestic ports, at least once every day and the controller’s approval for travel is no longer required,” Air Niugini said in a statement.
“We have scheduled services to the border ports of Daru, Kiunga, Vanimo, Buka and Wewak but these require the controller’s approval.
“Tabubil and Lihir airports remain closed to passenger flights.”
Internationally, Air Niugini maintains its flights to Cairns, Brisbane and Singapore.
“The outbound flights to these three ports do not require approval.
“Inbound flights are now open for sale, however, the inbound passengers still require the controller’s approval and evidence of a 14-day hotel accommodation at an approved quarantine hotel, prior to being able to check-in.
“Flights to the rest of our international destinations are still suspended.
“We will advise once approval is given for resumption of operations.
“Apart from passengers, we are also operating charter services for a number of clients both domestically and internationally especially to assist relocating staff.
“Our cargo services are also operating, using both freight aircraft and our Dash 8-200 combi freighters.”
These aircraft can take up to 2.5 tonnes of cargo per flight and also allow limited seats for passengers.
Air Niugini is also using the Boeing 767 aircraft on international charters to move up to 30 tonnes of cargo per flight and has been actively involved with the Government in bringing medical supplies into the country.
Meanwhile, the approved quarantine hotels in Port Moresby include the Holiday Inn, Ela Beach Hotel, Sanctuary Hotel, Dixies Bungalows, Grand Papua Hotel, Stanley Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Laguna Hotel and Granville Hotel.
Tarutia: More people should be covered by superfunds
By HELEN TARAWA
THE superannuation fund net needs to be extended to cover more people around the country than the 10 per cent it currently has, an official says.
Nasfund chief executive officer Ian Tarutia said the review of the legislation governing the superfunds by the Government and Parliament was timely and supported by the superfunds.
“Issues to look at are taxation, universal coverage, benefits like insurance (life/ medical) for instance,” he said.
“The Treasurer and the Treasury Department are stakeholders in this process as well.
“The Covid-19 has exposed what we as superfunds have been advocating since we were established. Savings is important and holding cash at times like this is essential.”
Tarutia said Nasfund members and those who contributed to other superfunds were fortunate that they could fall back on their retirement savings if they needed to.
“But they only make up less than 10 per cent of the country’s population while 90 per cent of the people have to fend for themselves,” he said.
“Hopefully, this provides the catalyst for extending the superannuation net for all our people throughout the country.
“There are a lot of things to learn from this Covid-19 experience.
“Government, businesses and society all have been impacted.
“We need to accept that the Covid-19 is here to stay.
“There is a new way of doing things and let’s get on with life.”
Bank of PNG Governor Loi Bakani has submitted a review of the superannuation legislation to the Government.
Bakani told The National that he had submitted the review to Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey to table at the National Executive Council meeting.