BOUGAINVILLE LAWSUIT UNDER DISCUSSION: SIR MOI

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 27, 2002 – Post-Courier)---Authorities will meet to discuss the dismissed Bougainville lawsuit and its possible effects, Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Moi Avei said in Parliament yesterday.

[See: U.S. Court Dismisses Bougainville Case Against Miner Rio Tinto]

Sir Moi was responding to a series of questions by South Bougainville MP Michael Laimo relating to the dismissal of the lawsuit in the United States.

He was also responding to a question on whether the Government was ready to compensate Bougainvilleans who had directly suffered from the environmental damage caused by the Rio Tinto company on the island — which prompted the case to be filed in America.

But Sir Moi said the issue was a matter that involved the justice minister and the government as a whole and that he would consult with them and deliberate on the issue later.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

 

PNG ECONOMY IMPROVING MARGINALLY, REPORTS INSTITUTE

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 27, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea's economy is improving, but marginally, says the Institute of National Affairs.

Its executive director, Mike Manning, said it appears to have picked up over the first quarter of the year based on the institute’s job vacancy index.

Mr. Manning said the index, based on job vacancies advertised in the two daily newspapers, moved up from 0.35 in the December quarter of last year to 0.41 in the March quarter.

"This is quite surprising as the March quarter is generally the lowest quarter for economic activity due to the seasonal nature of agricultural exports," Mr. Manning said.

He said the index has only been running since January 2001 and as such it is too early to read much into the figures.

This is the first time in almost four years that someone has actually hinted at some economic growth in the country.

Mr. Manning said the ANZ bank publishes a similar index in Australia and this has come to be respected as a very good advance indicator of economic activity for the coming months.

"Usually, companies have to take on workers before they can expand output and a contraction in the number of job vacancies generally indicates further contraction of the economy," Mr. Manning said.

He said industries that have shown growth during the quarter include the oil industry, where production was up by 12.5 percent and price by 5 percent during February. However, Mr. Manning said this would not be expected to affect economic activity.

"Copra has also made a recovery during the March quarter with reported receivables of more than 18,000 tons by mid March against only 5,000 last year," Mr. Manning said.

He said cocoa prices have been up to more than K 5, 000 (US$ 1,385) per ton but there has not been much production.

Mr. Manning said coffee is ahead of last year’s production figures.

He said retailers and manufacturers have also reported a better-than-average turnover during the quarter. However, this is due more to higher prices than higher volumes of sales.

Volumes of sugar sales are also reported to have improved over the last three months.

Mr. Manning said another possible source of increased activity is the forthcoming elections and therefore increased activity by candidates and others to provide some economic stimuli to the economy.

"There may also have been an effect from the free education policy because people have been able to spend money they were saving for payment of fees," he said.

"Although this is unquantifiable, it is part of the reason for increased expenditure that traders have noticed."

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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