PNG Fisheries rebate increasing local processing

PORT MORESBY, 28 NOVEMBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – Revised fishing rebates introduced in September last year have increase production since their introduction according the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority (NFA).

Just over the year since government introduced the new rebate on catch processing within the country in response to offshore processing of local fishing catches diminishing job creation opportunities for local citizens.

“The industry’s processing sector we have seen out of the 100 per cent of catches made in PNG Waters, about 70 per cent in going off outside,” NFA managing director John Kasu said.

“That has been realized by the government and by NFA and basically to look at see the way how we could see those catches that are going out and to increase production onshore.

“What has happened is the government has come up with the policy for a rebate to get industry to put fish through for processing through the six processing plants that we have.

“Increase the production and what the government has decided is to give a rebate of US$400 per metric tonne that is put through our factories.”

He said the authority has observed a number of onshore processors have increased production staff as a result of the rebate intervention by government.

“If you look at RD Canners has increased one shift and which means there are more workers and they have increased their production,” he said.

“The other companies we have seen very minimal but there is commitment by the companies to increase production.

“IFC, International Food Corporation in Lae, they are a processing company and they don’t have boats and they have been struggling with obtaining resources. They are committed to increasing their production also.

“We have seen increases in productions and Nambawan Seafoods have come onboard this year and that is a new processing plant, we are seeing them increasing but at the moment they are distributing to the market for testing.”

He said while there need to be more work put into local processing the rebate has been positive considering its enforcement in just over a year.

“The six-monthly reviews that we have been carrying out tell us a positive feedback and move in the right direction,” Kasu said.

“We will be assessing it for the next 6 months and keep assessing after a year to see the various benefits have emanated from that.”

Meanwhile, initial discussions with the Department of Finance have shown promise for the National Fisheries Authority as it weighs out its operations following the implementation of the Public Money Management Regularisation Act.

The Act stripped all its accounts of up to 90 per cent of funds, which were reported to be in the hundreds of millions of kina, in a bid by the State to consolidate all its revenues as it passed the 2018 National Budget in this month.

The authority’s managing director John Kasu said while the arrangement created challenges for the authority, some progress had been made as discussions continue.

“These are challenges that we are faced with, we are telling the Department of Finance and government that we have got mandated functions that need to be funded,” he said.

“On top of that we have projects that need to be funded, so we basically need to sit down with finance and treasury and work out a good way of maintaining what we are doing at the moment.

“There is some agreement in terms of not a 90/10 ratio, there is an agreement on some discussions of half-half so they will give us half of the income that comes in and then they maintain half to it.”

He said the centre to the discussions remain the rolling out of Public Investment Projects (PIP) projects that are government projects on the agenda such as dedicated fisheries wharves.

“These are NEC decisions. So maybe that is a better way of discussing that.There is some positive discussions really in the next week going forward because we had the national budget handed down,’’ he said.

“We will be sitting down with finance, basically the two secretaries (finance and treasury) and discussing how to move forward for next year.”

He said the projects set out by the authority are impacting communities around the country and the delivery of them will be determined by how much the government decides takes them into consideration.

“If we are going to take those up we feel that we need to be given a little bit more budget to be able to address that, or we can address that better maybe through finance in trust accounts and we can operate where both finance and treasury and NFA can have visibility how we operate those accounts,” he said.

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