27 February 2017

Secured transactions registry launched in Samoa

Seated (left to right) at the launch of the Personal Property Securities Registry are ADB’s
team of  consultants that supported development of the registry: Anthony Frazier,
Paul Rankin, Gary Sin and Aaron Levine
Lending institutions in Samoa will be able to provide credit to more businesses following the launch of an online registry that makes it easier to accept movable property — such as machinery, accounts receivable, or inventory — as collateral.

Activation of the Personal Property Securities Registry was the culmination of an extensive PSDI-support reform to establish a personal property securities framework in Samoa, through which security interests in movable property can be safely and easily recorded.

“Access to credit is a critical driver of economic growth. It allows new businesses to form, successful businesses to grow, and jobs and wealth to be created,” said Masud Nizami, Financial Sector Specialist with ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office. “With limited land ownership in Samoa, using movable property as security for loans makes sense — it makes credit possible for all businesses with assets and it ‘unlocks’ the value of these assets to help grow the private sector.”

Lenders can use the online registry to secure their claim on assets borrowers have pledged as collateral and verify that the asset has not already been pledged elsewhere. Moreover, under the new framework, lenders can repossess a pledged asset in the event of non-repayment without needing a lawyer and a court order.

ADB Consultant Anthony Frazier hosts a training session with lawyers following the
launch of the Personal Property Securities Registry
It is expected that the convenience and accessibility of the registry will also encourage non-bank suppliers — such as wholesalers, agricultural stores, exporters, and vehicle dealerships — to extend credit, as this can now be secured against their customers’ business assets or products.

The registry was launched by Tuifa'asisina Misa Lisati Leleisiuao Palemene, Samoa's Associate Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Labor, at a ceremony attended by government and private sector representatives, church and community groups, and the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners to Samoa.

PSDI International Business Law Reform Expert Aaron Levine gave a demonstration of the registry’s functions.

PSDI is now working the Government of Samoa to raise lenders’ awareness of the new system and encourage the creation of new lending products.

23 February 2017

Private sector assessment for Palau: high-end tourism best option for economic growth

Palau PSA cover
Strong economic growth is masking urgent infrastructure and environmental challenges that threaten the long term sustainability of Palau’s economy, says our private sector assessment published today.

Private Sector Assessment for Palau: Policies for Sustainable Growth warns that the rapid growth of low-end tourism could damage Palau’s famed natural environment and World Heritage sites, which are pivotal to maintaining tourism as the country’s leading source of revenue.

The report was launched by the President of Palau Tommy Remengesau at Palau’s 4th Annual Economic Symposium, which was attended by more than 200 government and private sector representatives.

PSDI Lead Economist and report co-author Paul Holden used the keynote address at the symposium to present findings and recommendations from the report, while PLCO Private Sector Development Specialist Liliana Warid joined a panel discussion.

“Figures showing GDP growth of 5.3% in 2014 and 8.2% in 2015 do not capture the risks that increased tourism numbers bring to popular tourist sites,” said Ms Warid. “To sustain economic growth and build on the success of earlier business environment reforms, Palau should seek to reduce overall tourist numbers while increasing individual tourist spending.”

PSDI Lead Economist Paul
Holden presents in Koror.
The report calls for the creation of a comprehensive national tourism policy and the building of infrastructure that will encourage high-end tourism. It also recommends business laws be amended so an online business registry can be established and a modern business licensing system developed.

Other recommendations in Private Sector Assessment for Palau include further reforms to the finance sector to build the capacity of the National Development Bank of Palau and reducing the financial burden of inefficient state-owned enterprises by having them operate on commercial principles. The report also suggests measures to promote women’s equal access to economic opportunities.

The report builds on a private sector assessment PSDI produced for Palau in 2007, noting the Government of Palau has demonstrated a strong commitment to private sector-led growth in the past decade. The report highlights improved financial regulation, the establishment of a secured transactions framework, and the formation of the Economic Advisory Group comprised of senior government and private sector representatives as particular achievements.

Research for the report was gathered from in-depth consultations with a broad selection of government and private sector representatives.

22 February 2017

PSDI-drafted report on improving PNG’s competition and consumer framework released for public comment

The consultation draft of a report produced by PSDI as part of the Papua New Guinea’s Consumer and Competition Framework Review (CCFR) has been released for public comment.

The CCFR’s Public Report and Recommendations is the result of extensive consultations with business and consumers across PNG on consumer issues and competition law and regulation. It assesses the effectiveness of current laws and regulations enforced by the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC).

Referencing feedback gathered during the consultations, the report offers 188 recommendations in the areas of:
consumer protection
competition policy and law
economic empowerment of women
industry regulation
price monitoring and control, and
the competitive environment for business.

A series of public workshops to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations will be held in Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo, and Goroka during March and April

Once comments provided on the consultation draft and gathered in the upcoming workshop have been considered, a final set of recommendations will be provided by the review team to the Government of PNG.

The CCF Review was initiated by the Department of Treasury to examine the laws and institutions that protect consumers and promote competition in Papua New Guinea, and to make recommendations for their improvement.

The draft report has been released for review and comment by the public. It is available for download from www.ccfreview.info and comments can be submitted to comment@ccfreview.info until 28 April 2017. 

7 February 2017

New series of PSDI case studies examines private sector’s role in public service delivery

A new series of PSDI case studies profiles the range of private sector involvement in public service delivery in the Pacific.

Our first three Case Studies in Private Sector Participation look at private sector provision of three services: solid waste management, franchise shipping, and water supply services.

Each study outlines the forms of contracting used, the impact of private sector involvement, and opportunities for extracting better value for money in future.

Two case studies in Solid Waste Management examine the contracting of rubbish collection to the private sector in Papua New Guinea and possibility of outsourcing household waste collection in Fiji.

Franchise Shipping finds such services in PNG and Solomon Islands have improved people's ability to plan projects, open markets, confidently increase local production, and raise their standards of living, and that the contracting these services to private operators has been cost-effective.

Water Supply Services draws on a survey of public-private partnerships in eight countries, noting that water and wastewater services in most Pacific countries have been the responsibility of public sector departments or state-owned enterprises and that very few collect enough revenue to recover their costs and provide a commercial return.

6 February 2017

PSDI prepares technical support program for PNG’s Independent Consumer and Competition Commission

ICCC teams review the findings of PSDI's capability assessment and present ideas
for how they could respond to them.  
PSDI hosted a capability assessment workshop with staff from the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) on February 3 in preparation for a capability building technical assistance package later this year.

PSDI Competition Experts Andrew Simpson and Geoff Thorn assessed how the staff and management practices of the ICCC are positioned to achieve competitive market outcomes for Papua New Guineans, and meet government priorities. The assessment revealed that the ICCC was generally ready to deliver on its mandate, but there were some areas for improvement.

“Strong governance frameworks alone are not enough to ensure good outcomes for consumers”, said Mr Simpson. “Equally important is that ICCC staff are empowered with the right resources and training to encourage competitive economic outcomes. The existing talent and dedication of ICCC staff can be built upon to achieve this.”

ICCC staff reviewed the assessment findings and considered how they could be applied them to their work areas. Particular interest was paid to how the ICCC could be more proactive in defending consumer rights, detecting and prosecuting anti-competitive behaviour, and managing resources to deliver on government priorities.

Geoff Thorn discusses with one of the ICCC teams how the findings of the capability
assessment relate to their work.
The results of the assessment will be provided to Treasury and used to inform the technical assistance program and broader change management process.

The capability assessment complements PSDI’s assistance to Treasury in reviewing PNG’s competition and consumer protection framework, the final report from which will be released for public consultation in the coming months.