Toksave - PNG regulatory update: Strata Title law passed by PNG Parliament and other developments

By Sarah Kuman
Oil & Gas Papua New Guinea

Latest developments 4 min read

Strata Title law passed by PNG Parliament; Moratorium placed on all Voluntary Carbon Market Projects in PNG; ICCC commences review of Electricity Regulatory Contract; dates set for National General Election; Electronic Transactions Act passed and certified.

Land and property

Strata Title Ownership Scheme passed 

Relevant Acts for the strata title ownership scheme were passed in the March 2022 Parliament session. Allens previously discussed these new changes in 2019.

Among those passed were the Strata Title Act 2022 and the Strata Title Management Act 2022. The Strata Title Act 2022 generally provides for the creation and registration of strata title properties, while the Strata Title Management Act 2022 provides for the management and running of properties under the strata title scheme.  

Furthermore, amendments were made to existing land legislation to cater for the strata title scheme. Some of the existing legislation that was amended includes the Land Act 1996, the Land Registration Act (Chapter 191), the Building Act 1961 and the Survey Act 1969.

These changes will give certainty of title to stakeholders investing in strata title schemes and allow for the registration of dealings on the strata titles.

The new Acts and amendments to existing Acts are to come into operation upon certification, which is yet to happen.

Resources and industries

Moratorium on Voluntary Carbon Market Projects

On 7 March 2022, Hon Wera Mori, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, released a notice imposing a Moratorium on new and intending voluntary carbon market projects to trade carbon credits. The Moratorium was imposed to ensure voluntary projects are brought under the Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA), to conduct an audit of the existing voluntary projects. Mr Mori stated that he will be taking a policy submission to the NEC to effect the Moratorium. To date, there has been no notice confirming if the NEC deliberated on the Moratorium.

Minister Mori also stated that while the Moratorium is in place, the CCDA and the Conservation and Environment Protection Agency (CEPA) will establish a scheme for a Trust Fund to hold money received locally through allocated tax. He said the CSDA and CEPA will establish a benefit sharing arrangement between aspiring landowners, investors and the state.

On 4 April, Minister Mori stated the state has a framework that provides for 40% of revenue from any carbon sale to go to the state and 60% to be shared between landowners and developers. He said the framework will be presented before Parliament for deliberation. If this is not brought up in the upcoming Parliament sitting at the end of this month, which will be the last sitting for the current Parliament, any change will come about after the formation of the new Government.

Competition and Consumer

Electricity Regulatory Contract Review – commencement of the review process

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (the ICCC) has announced that it will continue the Electricity Regulatory Contract Review process for the period 2017 to 2022. The process was put on hold in 2021 following Parliament's passing of the National Energy Authority Act 2021, which paved the way for the establishment of the National Energy Authority to replace the ICCC as the regulator of the electricity supply industry. While there may have been some initial confusion around which entity would continue the process of reviewing the Electricity Regulatory Contract, this appears to have now been resolved, given the ICCC has restarted the process. The due date for submissions was 25 March 2022. There has been no indication of when the ICCC will commence a review of the Electricity Regulatory Contract applicable from the end of this year for the next five years.

News and other developments

2022 National General Election timeline

The 2022 National General Election will be conducted over a period of 13 weeks, commencing with the issue of writs on 28 April 2022 to the return of writs on 29 July 2022.

Below are the election dates released by the Electoral Commission: 

  • Issue of Writs. Nominations open: Thursday 28 April 2022
  • Nominations close: Thursday 5 May 2022
  • Polling Period starts: Saturday 25 June 2022
  • Polling Period ends: Friday 8 July 2022
  • Return of Writs: On or Before Friday 29 July 2022

Parliament must be called within seven days of the return of writs, so 5 August 2022 is the last day that the first sitting of Parliament may be called (unless the period for the return of writs is extended). At the first sitting, elected members take office and are sworn in. The first item of business is the appointment of a Speaker, and the second item of business is the appointment of a Prime Minister from among candidates nominated by the Registered Political Party invited to form government.

Under the Constitution, the Parliament is not dissolved until the return of writs (as opposed to the issue of writs), and unless dismissed, etc, Ministers remain in office until the return of writs.  Thus, Ministers in fact remain in office and empowered up until the date fixed for the return of writs. 

Electronic Transactions Act passed

The Electronic Transactions Act 2021 was passed in the November 2021 sitting and certified on 23 February 2022.

The application of the Act is wide and covers any kind of data message and electronic record, communication and document used in commercial and non-commercial activities in international and domestic dealings, transactions, arrangements, agreements, exchanges and storage of information.

There are a few areas the Act does not apply to, which include:

  • foreign exchange transactions;
  • power of attorney
  • a trust; and
  • a document involving an oath or affirmation

Broadly, the Act makes provisions for electronic transactions, electronic contracting, electronic signatures, trust services and electronic transferrable records.

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