9 December 2013

Solomon Islands: Barriers to the Economic Empowerment of Women

The aim of this study is to alert stakeholders to the impediments faced by women seeking to engage in the private sector. By doing so it informs stakeholders of the need to design strategies and interventions that are both sensitive to the needs of women, and address inherent inequalities.

1 December 2013

ADB backs SOE reforms by the Government of Palau

ADB SOE expert, Laure Darcy presents at
the Palau Economic Symposium in November.
NEWoperating principles guiding state-owned enterprises (SOEs) announced by the Government of Palau have been welcomed as an import milestone in the economic reform process for the small island state. The SOE policy principles were presented at an Economic Symposium in Koror on Nov 21st, where a commitment was made by the Minister of Finance, the Honorable Elbuchel Sadang, to receive public comments and then prepare a draft law for submission to Congress. The key principles are:

27 November 2013

PNG Private Sector Survey: From where will the non-mining jobs come?

Employment growth beyond mining will depend on PNG’s ability to improve the business environment, write Aaron Batten and David Freedman.*
Over the past decade, the strong performance of PNG’s non-mineral economy has seen formal employment grow by an average of 6% per year. This has almost doubled the size of the private sector workforce, and created new opportunities for an emerging middle class. However, as the construction phase of the PNG-Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project winds down and external conditions become less favorable, growth in PNG’s non-mineral economy continues to slow.

26 November 2013

Bankers win praise as ADB hosts Pacific Branchless Banking seminar

Branchless Banking Seminar,
Sydney, 19-20 November 2013 
Pacific Central Banks won praise for their approach to mobile banking at the first-ever Pacific Branchless Banking Seminar, hosted earlier this month by ADB Sydney and sponsored by the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative. 

As the take-up of mobile phones in the Pacific drives a revolution in financial inclusion, senior executives from six Pacific Central Banks were joined in Sydney by financial service providers, mobile network operators and technology providers from all over the region.

11 November 2013

Getting the settings right on SME policy in PNG

GROWING the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector has emerged as one of the key priorities of the O’Neill-Dion Government in Papua New Guinea. Countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia have been held up as examples for PNG to follow and SMEs have been proposed as the key mechanism to create jobs, drive growth and develop non-extractive industries.

6 November 2013

PSDI's Laure Darcy talks about State-Owned Enterprise reform in Vanuatu

VANUATU's Council of Ministers has approved a new policy on State Owned Enterprises. Laure Darcy, PSDI's lead specialist on State Owned Enterprises reform, is interviewed by ABC Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program:
"The policy is designed to improve transparency and accountability of SOEs. The Asian Development Bank, which supported the development of the new policy, says SOEs absorb large amounts of government capital and provide very low returns, diverting government resources away from vital social investments in health and education, and driving-up the costs of doing business where they are the sole service providers."
Listen here.

31 October 2013

NEWS RELEASE: ADB Welcomes New State-owned Enterprise Policy for Vanuatu

PORT VILA, VANUATU: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) welcomes the approval of the state owned enterprises (SOE) policy by the Vanuatu Council of Ministers. ADB supported drafting of the policy, which was prepared following extensive government consultations.
SOEs place a heavy burden on Vanuatu’s economy. They absorb large amounts of scarce capital on which they provide very low returns, divert government resources away from vital social investments in health and education, and drive-up the costs of doing business where they are the sole service providers.
“The approval of the SOE policy demonstrates this Government’s strong commitment to improving the performance of its SOEs” said Honorable Maki Simelum, Minister of Finance. “It is the first step in our broader SOE reform program that will include the strengthening of governance and monitoring practices and the restructuring of individual SOEs”.

30 October 2013

Riding the Wave: Reform, Private Sector Development and Growth in the Pacific

By Paul Holden*
PACIFIC island economies are mostly small, geographically isolated, and relatively undiversified, with narrow export bases. Because of their size, there are few opportunities for economies of scale and limited access to international capital markets. They are vulnerable to natural disasters and rely heavily on development partner assistance and on remittances. They are mostly characterized by large informal sectors, a substantial public sector presence in the economy, and low productivity. Growth performance lags behind other comparable countries in other regions.
And yet the familiar explanations for low growth do not hold in the Pacific. Net domestic investment has not been especially low and its citizens lack nothing in productive capability as their ability to find work in Australia, New Zealand and the United States demonstrates, yet the economic performance of countries in the region has been disappointing. A major explanation for the low growth has been the neglect of private sector development in many Pacific region economies.

26 October 2013

ADB/PSDI presents at Pacific Microfinance Week

ADB had a strong presence at the 2013 Pacific Microfinance Week in Nadi, Fiji. PSDI made several presentations and conducted training workshops, which we share below:


Erik Aelbers, PSDI Access to Finance Expert
Erik presented on ‘branchless banking and consumer protection’ in the plenary session on 'Microfinance Policy and Regulation' and particularly covered
  1. the principles of consumer protection, including around transparency, fair treatment of customers, and effective recourse, 
  2. an overview of the consumer protection issues as they relate to branchless banking, where agents may be the prime interface between the customer and the financial service provider, 
  3. considerations for regulators when deciding whether to introduce consumer protection regulation.

24 October 2013

The PSDI Podcast #1: Interview with Solomon Islands Registrar of Companies, Edwin Saramo

If you cannot see the audio controls, or the player is not compatible with your browser listen/download the audio file here

PSDI Solomon Islands representative Jarrod Harrington interviews the country's Registrar of Companies, Mr Edwin Saramo about the public consultations underway on proposed
changes to the Registration of Business Names legislation. Submissions are welcome and can be sent:
  • via email to sibusinessnames@gmail.com, 
  • by post to Company Haus at PO Box G26, Honiara 
  • or in person at Company Haus, Mendana Ave, Honiara. 
To obtain copies of the Business Names Bill click here. The deadline for submissions is Monday 11 November 2013.

15 October 2013

Solomon Islands kicks off consultations on review of business names law

HONIARA, 16 OCTOBER 2013 (ADB) – Consultations begin today in Solomon Islands as part of the review of the Registration of Business Names Bill. The joint review by the Solomon Islands Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) aims to modernize and improve the business name registration procedure in Solomon Islands.
Mr.Hence Vaekesa
“When you have a registered business name, your customers can be certain that they are dealing with your business and you can be confident that no one else is trading on your good name,” said Hence Vaekesa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration in Solomon Islands.
“Improving the business name registration process will encourage more people to start up businesses in Solomon Islands.” (Submissions are welcome and can be sent via email.)
Most small business and rural business owners in Solomon Islands register their businesses using the existing Registration of Business Names Act. The process is cumbersome, and many business owners have to travel vast distances to town to file their applications, incurring significant costs. ADB is assisting the Solomon Islands Government in drafting a new Registration of Business Names Bill for consideration by Parliament.

1 October 2013

Pacific economies expected to achieve ADO 2013 growth forecasts.

Growth will be steady for the Pacific, says ADB's biannual Asian Development Outlook 2013 Update:
"Pacific economies as a whole are expected to achieve ADO 2013 growth forecasts. The growth forecasts for the Pacific subregion remain unchanged at 5.2% in 2013 and 5.5% in 2014. Higher growth expectations for the Cook Islands and Fiji in 2013 are offset by lower projections for Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. Improving consumption and investment indicators in Fiji and unexpectedly large increases in tourism arrivals in the Cook Islands prompt upgrades in their growth forecasts. Downward revisions are led by a modest decline in the 2013 growth forecast for Timor-Leste, where public expenditure is lower than budgeted, and a more significant downgrade in the forecast for Solomon Islands, where production in gold mining, logging, and agriculture are falling short of expectations. The forecast for inflation in 2013 is revised down to 5.7% from 6.1% and in 2014 to 6.0% from 6.3%."

25 September 2013

Law reforms will open up business in Vanuatu, PSDI tells Radio NZI

PSDI's Business Law advisor Terry Reid talks to Radio New Zealand International about the implications for doing business in Vanuatu of the recent passage of modernized business laws. He told RNZI's Bridget Tunnicliffe that PSDI is working with the Vanuatu government to make setting up and running local businesses smoother.
TERRY REID: Recently, the government passed a suite of laws - the Companies Act, the Companies (Insolvency and Receivership) Act and an Insolvency (Cross Border) Act, which effectively gives the country an entire new company law framework, which will make it more accessible for the vanuatu private sector.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: And what has the ABD's role been in the process?

20 September 2013

NEWS RELEASE: New company laws pave way for better business in Vanuatu

PSDI commenced consultations with the Vanuatu Financial
Services Commission in Port Vila in September. 
PORT VILA, VANUATU – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has welcomed the passage of the Companies (Insolvency and Receivership) Act and the Insolvency (Cross Border) Act in Vanuatu. The new Act in combination with the Companies Act passed in 2012 will make it easier for local people to conduct business.
ADB and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) supported drafting of the legislation through their co-financed Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI).

8 August 2013

Universal recipe will secure prosperity in PNG

The revolution in access to mobile technology is a key
driver of economic growth in the developing Pacific. 
By Andrea Iffland and Paul Holden*
From The National, Port Moresby

THE RECENT Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises Summit in Madang had job creation and growth as its worthy goal. Although Papua New Guinea has grown rapidly over the past decade, this has not translated into jobs in the non-resource sector and unemployment is worryingly high. The SME Summit is a welcomed step towards promoting the creation of jobs and reducing the cost of doing business. It is therefore timely to outline some of the factors that have proved to be successful in generating employment in other countries.

First, in the longer run, employment, growth, and prosperity are determined by one thing alone, namely how productive the economy is. Productivity is a function of many things – technology, how educated is the workforce, how effective are government services, the legal system, and the levels of investment.

Second, this in turn suggests that government should act to provide a business environment that is conducive to long-term investment. Uncertainty and frequent changes in policies increases risk and discourages investment. A low cost investment climate is the surest way to encourage entrepreneurship and growth.

24 July 2013

Samoa's new online Companies Registry reaches out to rural business

Participants from the Savai’i training seminar. From left, 
Olaf Weinhold, from a diving company, Dive Savai’i, 
Taalefi li Membrere, Sala Vui Sale, and
Backpacker Hostel co-owner, Tiauamafa Talamaivao. 
PHOTO: courtesy Samoa Observer
CONDUCTING business from remote areas of Samoa is now easier than ever, as business owners from Savai’i recently learned at a special training session on the use of the new electronic Samoa Companies Registry

The entrepreneurs learnt how different uses of the electronic company registry will assist them in running their businesses. They also received advice on how to quickly establish and maintain a company under new laws governing companies in Samoa.

“The new system is much easier to understand,” said Ms Taalefili Membrere, who heads up a 22-year-old business with 42 staff which includes a petrol station, construction and retail in its portfolio. After attending the Companies Act training session, she thinks the new laws will make doing business in Savai’i easier: “It’s very quick, and you don’t even have to leave Savai’i to use it.”

17 July 2013

How PSDI is promoting the Economic Empowerment of Women in the Pacific

ADB Sydney's Sabine Spohn shares gender-related results of the Pacific PSDI, which, together with AusAID and NZAID support, has empowered women through diagnostic work, long-term engagement, and collaboration with communities and women's groups. Sabine present two case studies, company law reform in the Solomon Islands, and the impact of mobile phone banking in Papua New Guinea.

INFOGRAPHIC: How PSDI is enabling Pacific entrepreneurs through Business Law Reform

For developing countries, a dynamic private sector which contributes to inclusive growth can lead to higher employment and incomes, reducing poverty and increasing prosperity. But in many Pacific island states, confusing and outdated laws are holding business back…
* If your browser cannot display the graphic, download the file by clicking here.

8 July 2013

NEWS RELEASE: State-owned enterprise reform key to PNG private sector

Madang, Papua New Guinea (2 July 2013) – SIMPLE reforms to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) could lower the cost of doing business and create new opportunities for the country’s private sector, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) told a major business summit taking place today.
Speaking at “SME Summit 2013,” a national event to review Government plans to stimulate and reform the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, ADB Advisor Chris Russell presented key findings from the ADB’s Finding Balance report, which show the high cost of doing business is constraining economic growth in the country.
“High costs are holding back all businesses, both large and small,” Mr. Russell told the summit. “And one of the drivers of this is the relative inefficiency of PNG’s state-owned enterprises.”
SOEs dominate key sectors such as power, water, ports and aviation, providing services which almost all private businesses use. When these services are provided at high cost, business suffers, especially export-oriented businesses whose competitors operate in countries with lower input costs.

2 July 2013

ADB President Nakao praises AusAID partnership on PSDI

Following his first visit in July to Australia in his new role, Asian Development Bank President, Takehiko Nakao, has posted over at AusAID's Engage blog about PSDI and ADB's strengthening relationship with Australia:
"Through the PSDI, we are working with governments in the Pacific to lay the groundwork for a thriving private sector which, in turn, will drive inclusive growth.
"...I am pleased to see that the PSDI is indeed making a difference in the lives of the poor. One concrete outcome is an innovative mobile phone-linked initiative in Papua New Guinea, which has reduced transaction costs, increased security, and given 10,000 Papua New Guineans first-time access to financial services.
"We at ADB are proud to partner with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific island countries on this and other important initiatives. Working together, we can help create a better life for people of the Pacific, and the hope of a stable, more prosperous Asia and Pacific region that we all can enjoy."
- Read more at: Engage

20 June 2013

Pacific Economic Monitor

The economic prospects are still bright for the Pacific region this year and next even as inflation ticks up, says Asian Development Bank Senior Economist, Christopher Edmonds.

18 June 2013

PNG Bank credits Microfinance Expansion Project as village women secure first loans

Post Courier, Port Moresby, 19 June 2013

Co-financed by Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Government of PNG, the Microfinance Expansion Project is a comprehensive development approach designed to strengthen the growth of the microfinance sector in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Launched in ApriI, 2012, MEP is designed to take forward the learning and initiatives of the previous project - PNG Microfinance and Employment Project (2002 to 2010).
Only approximately 15% of the population of PNG presently having access to financial services. Availability of natural resources, untapped opportunities and economic changes that the country is undergoing offers potential for expansion of the microfinance sector. However the opportunity comes with challenges of low literacy levels, absence of good infrastructure and limited scope for promotion of micro enterprise.
MEP is designed to address these challenges and takes the onus of strengthening the sector and expanding its outreach to remote parts of the country. FIND OUT MORE

5 June 2013

PSDI briefs Timor-Leste officials on branchless banking

Dili, Timor-Leste, 5 June 2013 – ADB hosted a briefing for representatives of the Government of Timor-Leste on 5 June 2013, outlining the opportunities and challenges presented by branchless banking initiatives in the country. Conducted with the Inclusive Finance for the Underserved Economy (INFUSE) programme, the briefing presented findings of a PSDI-funded assessment and INFUSE-funded market research in 2011/2012. The briefing was attended by the Minister for Social Solidarity, representatives of the Central Bank of Timor-Leste and other stakeholders. Participants discussed the findings of the assessment and recommended policy responses by the Government. There are challenges to developing branchless banking services in Timor-Leste, but also recent positive developments, including (i) the introduction of  new and improved mobile telecommunications services and (ii) increased interest of commercial banks in upgrading their banking infrastructure to enable branchless banking services.

Download the presentation and brief summary of the assessment:
  • ADB: Branchless Banking Assessment - Findings - June 2013  | http://bit.ly/103RnWf
  • Branchless Banking in Timor-Leste  | http://bit.ly/12UskZn 

31 May 2013

How PSDI is helping to advance the economic empowerment of women in the Pacific

Asian Development Bank advisor, Samantha-Jane Odbert, highlights how PSDI's work in the Pacific is enhancing the economic empowerment of women (EEOW) through private sector development. The regional learning workshop, held in Suva, Fiji in May 2013, was co-hosted by AusAID and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and was part of the design process for the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Initiative, through which Australia has committed $320 million over 10 years to improve the legal, political, economic and social opportunities of Pacific Women. 
Identifying gender as a cross-cutting issue for PSDI, Samantha presents the Company Haus case study in the Solomon Islands, where the EEOW in that country has been positively impacted through broader business law reforms fostered by PSDI. EEOW is now a core focus area for PSDI.

Related links:

27 March 2013

NEWS RELEASE: ADB Welcomes Passage of Personal Property Securities Act in Samoa

APIA, SAMOA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) welcomes the passage yesterday of the Personal Property Securities Act, which will make it easier for people and businesses to secure loans, obtain credit, and conduct business. ADB supported the drafting of the legislation, which was prepared following extensive local consultations in the capital, Apia, and other districts. “The new Act really helps small business and those people just starting out in business who may have the skills but not sufficient assets to secure a business loan," said Auelua Enari, Samoa's Registrar of Companies and CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries and Labor. “The registry will allow people to make safer and more informed purchases of vehicles, farm equipment, and other moveable assets," said Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB's Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office.