6 Aug 2021

In brief: news from around the Pacific

12:34 pm on 6 August 2021
Export of round logs is the main economic activity in West Sepik, but the profits largely go abroad.

Export of round logs is the main economic activity in West Sepik, but the profits largely go abroad. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

PNG PM puts foreign logging companies on notice

Papua New Guinea's prime minister has told foreign logging companies to start downstream processing activities in PNG or leave the country.

PNG's government wants more local economic activity and benefits from its forestry sector, which is dominated by foreign companies exporting round logs.

James Marape laid down an ultimatum during his keynote address at an event where the National Forest Authority launched its ten year corporate plan.

"You have the first opportunity to partner government into the downstream space. For if you are not in the mindset of partnering government in the downstream space, pack up today and leave our shores," he said.

Marape said no new forestry licenses will be granted to logging companies who lack clear downstream plans in PNG.

Bougainville public service to run independently of PNG

Bougainville's public service is now to officially operate independently of Papua New Guinea's.

This follows the formal transfer of the remaining powers and functions of the Department of the Autonomous Bougainville Government from the PNG national government.

A ceremony in Bougainville's capital Buka was held to mark the transferral, which comes twenty years after a peace agreement was signed to formally end the civil war in PNG's far east region.

PNG's government says there's still significant capacity building work to be undertaken to develop Bougainville's Public Service, and it has committed resources for training.

Samoa competing in canoe sprint in Tokyo

Samoa's Rudolph Williams will be racing in the 1000m canoe sprint today, as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics head into the business end of it's competitions.

The 42-year-old has raced four times already, finishing 5th in his Heat to advance to the quarter finals of the 200m kayak sprint, where he finished 5th, just under 6 seconds behind Serbia.

He advanced to the quarter finals with team mate Tuva'a Clifton in the men's 1000m kayak double, but fell short behind Serbia again to come in last.

Williams will need to finish first or second to advance to the semi-finals, or will go through to compete in the quarter finals later in the day.

Event start time: 9:44am Tokyo time.

Commercial air service between Honolulu and Pago Pago delayed.

American Samoa's Covid-19 Task Force has delayed the re-starting of commercial air service between Honolulu and Pago Pago, citing the surge in the delta variant across the USA.

Hawaiian Airlines was due to take over commercial flights planned for August 26.

However, task force chairman, the lieutant governor Talauega Eleasalo Ale says the commercial service is postponed tentatively to September 13th because of to the prominence of the delta variant in the US.

Talauega says repatriation efforts are now complete, so it's important to take a pause and carefully decide on the best courses of action forward on travel to and from American Samoa.

Eight additional Covid-19 positive infections in Papua New Guinea

Eight additional Covid-19 positive infections in Papua New Guinea have been identified as being the highly infectious Delta strain.

Police Commissioner and Controller of the PNG Covid-19 National Pandemic Response, David Manning, has highlighted the risk of the onset of a potential third wave of Covid infections.

He has again called on people to adhere to Covid-safe measures and to get vaccinated.

Manning said everyone must take the threat of a third wave of infections very seriously.

He warned that if the Delta strain were to take hold and spread in PNG they face the prospect of thousands of deaths.

The Controller said of the eight new cases, one person is from PNG and the remaining seven are from other countries.