Latest developments 3 min read
Twinza suspends Pasca A offshore operations; public consultation on Digital Transformation Bill commences; ICCC reviewing Kina's proposed acquisition of Westpac PNG; National Energy Authority and Electricity Industry Act Amendment Bills passed; Parliament adjourned to August 2021; PNG Business Council concerned about Government's economic recovery package; and commencement of inquiry into amending Constitution to declare PNG a Christian country.
Twinza stands down Pasca A offshore operations in PNG
Twinza Oil Limited has reduced its discovery operations in the Pasca A offshore project in PNG, following the Government's proposal it be given a 6% product levy before signing the gas agreement. This follows the PNG Government's most recent agreement with Barrick Gold, to allow PNG stakeholders to take up to 53% of the economic benefits from the Pogera mine, which seems to be an indication of the Government's approach in taking up a larger role in both current and future projects of PNG's extractive industries. The gas agreement between Twinza and the PNG Government was to have been signed on 20 April 2021; however, due to the Government's new proposal, it was not, as the parties continue to renegotiate the terms.
Public consultation commences on new Digital Transformation Bill 2021
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (the Dept of ICT) has commenced public consultation on the proposed Digital Transformation Bill 2021. According to the Dept of ICT, the new Bill will streamline the provision of digital services and infrastructure within the public service. It proposes, among other things, the establishment of a national secured information exchange platform for secure data sharing among public bodies, as well as prescribing its own set of civil and criminal penalties for non compliance.
ICCC commences review of Kina's proposed acquisition of Westpac PNG
PNG's competition and consumer regulator, the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC), has commenced its competition assessment of the proposed acquisition of Westpac Bank PNG Limited by Kina Securities Limited. The ICCC is expected to complete, and release, its final determination of the proposed acquisition in June 2021.
National Energy Authority and Electricity Industry Act Amendment Bills passed
The PNG Parliament has passed the National Energy Authority and Electricity Industry Act Amendment Bills 2020. The Minister for Energy and Rural Infrastructure, Saki Soloma, stated that the two Bills would improve the regulation of electricity standards within the electricity industry. It seems that they also assume most of the licensing and regulatory functions performed by the ICCC under the current Electricity Industry Act, which would see current electricity licence holders impacted by these new amendments.
PNG Parliament adjourned to 10 August 2021
On 21 April 2021, members of the PNG Parliament voted to adjourn sitting sessions to 10 August 2021. In adjourning Parliament, Prime Minister James Marape cited concerns about the growing threat posed by Covid-19, after several parliamentary staff tested positive for the virus.
PNG Business Council concerned about Government's SME rescue package
The Executive Director of the Business Council of PNG, Douveri Henao, has raised concerns about the lack of assistance from the Government to PNG businesses. Mr Henao stated that, since March 2020, the PNG Government has not provided any clear economic recovery package to support businesses impacted by Covid-19.
Constitutional and Law Reform Commission commences inquiry on declaration of PNG as a Christian country
The Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (the CLRC) has begun its inquiry on amending the Constitution to declare PNG a Christian country. Prime Minister James Marape, when launching the inquiry, stated that PNG has acknowledged God and Christianity as the basis of the Constitution. This may impact PNG's stance on eg reproductive rights, LGBT groups and various PNG customary traditions. The inquiry started on 28 April 2021, with the CLRC to publish its findings at the end of May 2021.
New Allens appointment
We are delighted to announce Dakan Doiwa has been appointed Senior Litigation Counsel at Allens' Port Moresby office.