PNG to 'transform' airline and other state enterprises with ADB fund

7:52 pm on 11 November 2020

Papua New Guinea's struggling national carrier is to get a US$28-million funding boost from the Asian Development Bank.

Air Niugini, Papua New Guinea

Air Niugini, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI

The Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey, said the funding would assist in restructuring Air Niugini.

PNG's airline is steadily resuming domestic flights and even some international flights after it all but halted operations eight months ago due to the covid-19 pandemic .

The Treasurer said some state-owned enterprises such as PNG Ports, Water PNG and Motor Vehicle Insurance Ltd had continued operating through the lockdown months.

But Air Niugini was especially badly affected, and its recovery would be difficult and take longer than other SOEs, Ling-Stuckey said.

The ADB funding is a lifeline for just one of many airlines around the world facing an uncertain future due to widespread travel restrictions.

Ling-Stuckey said there would be clearer frameworks for public-private partnerships in the management of SOEs.

According to him, efforts would be made to ensure the public interest was protected while encouraging a level playing field for increased competition.

Overall, the Papua New Guinea Government is borrowing $US500 million dollars from the ADB with the aim of transforming its SOEs.

The Post Courier newspaper reports Mr Ling-Stuckey saying the goverrnment wants to turn SOEs into high performance organisations.

He said the programme would bolster the agencies' financial and technical capacities and by allowing more transparency and accountability, to underpin PNG's long-term economic growth.

The first part of the loan, which has an interest charge of less that one percent, according to the minister, is to be provided next year.

PNG's Government also secured an International Monetary Fund soft loan of $US340 million in August, as it strives to right the struggling economy.