Government Issues New Policy Directions for Special Economic Zones

Tuesday 20 February  2024

Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru.

The Government has issued new policy directions for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to give first priority to PNG investors.

In announcing the directive, the Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon. Richard Maru, said the Marape-Rosso Government enacted the Special Economic Zone Authority Legislation in 2019 without the policy, however, since his  appointment as the Minister responsible for SEZ, one of his key performance indicators  (KPI), was  to ensure that the new  Policy is formulated  and launched this year.

 Among the key policies will be a policy on local ownership of investors or locators of Special Economic Zones.

The policy will prescribe that Papua New Guineans will be given priority to invest in the Special Economic Zones and either be majority owned or be substantial shareholders of any investments in Special Economic Zone development in Papua New Guinea.

 “This is so that they benefit from the incentives provided by the Government and the wealth of this nation is shared among our citizens, not only the institutional shareholder like Nasfund but also the landowner companies, SMEs, and ordinary mothers and fathers in the villages.

 “As part of this undertaking, the Government is keen for investors to partner the Government through my Ministry (Ministry of International Trade and Investment) to set up Joint Venture (JV) companies that are publicly owned by our citizens and investors both local and international,” said Minister Maru.

As part of this undertaking the Government had directed the Paga Hill Estate to give first priority to Papua New Guinean investors for other investments on Paga Hill SEZ other than the Radisson Blu Hotel development.

“We understand that Paga Hill Estate already has investors locked in for the Radisson Blu Hotel which will be 40 per cent owned by Papua New Guinea investors.

 Apart from this, the Government has now directed Paga Hill Estate that all other investments in the Paga Hill Special Economic Zone including the new shopping mall, private hospitals, and other business ventures must be majority owned by Papua New Guinean citizens,” said Minister Maru.

Minister Maru further stated: I have now written to the Paga Hill Estate to advise them to immediately work with my Ministry (Ministry of International Trade and Investment) to put together a public company that will be listed on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange and jointly owned by the institutional investors, landowner companies, and the ordinary people of Papua New Guinea through an initial public offering.

He added, this company will be used to raise funds for all the investments so that companies residing in Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guinean owned companies including superfunds, landowner companies, and ordinary mothers and fathers from the villages will invest in the Paga Hill Special Economic Zone.

“We will have discussions with the Securities Commission of Papua New Guinea and the Port Moresby Stock Exchange to put together this company.

“The Paga Hill Special Economic Zone is a gamechanger for our country and we want it to be proudly owned by Papua New Guineans with them being the major shareholders in all new developments other than the Radisson Blue Hotel development.”

Minister Maru  said, “We are also looking at similar companies to be also created for other Special Economic Zones right across the country so Papua New Guineans can maximize the benefits of investment opportunities in our country.

“We want more and greater Papua New Guinean equity and we can do that through the special purpose vehicle which is a listed Papua New Guinea company created specifically to be an investment vehicle for Papua New Guineans in the Special Economic Zones,” said Minister Maru.

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