Andrew-HobbsBy Andrew Hobbs, Group Editor

IT SEEMS a little late now, in March, for me to wish our readers a Happy New Year for 2014, long after the fireworks have stopped and the New Year’s Resolutions forgotten about.

But while the timing might be off, the sentiment is still there – and for Papua New Guinea, at least, the year 2014 is going to be a big one.

It goes without saying that the start of production from the PNG LNG project will change PNG, with the success of ExxonMobil and its partners inspiring other oil and gas companies to explore and potentially produce oil and gas in PNG.

At the same time, a series of gold and copper projects are ticking off milestones and travelling closer to a final investment decision – bringing the promise of more royalties and more employment to the nation.

But while the long term picture for PNG is bright, neither businesses nor the people they employ can afford to wait forever.

While oil and gas exploration continues and while the gold price remains short of its historic highs, PNG could be waiting a long time for these new projects to begin – and even then, there is no guarantee that what worked for one project will work in another.

So if the PNG government is expecting a short-lived lull as companies keep a watchful eye on their workforces while waiting for the next big thing to get underway, there’s no harm in a little housekeeping.

With the imminent arrival of new funds, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill could do worse than to look at a recently released report by the Asian Development Bank which considers the major impediments to business growth in PNG.

The report recommends additional government investment in the police, correctional services, and judiciary, as well as increased efforts to tackle corruption through reforms to public procurement and land administration – including making more land available.

Simplification of licencing, regulation and taxation and the greater use of public–private partnerships to deliver infrastructure, electricity, transport and telecommunications were also recommended.

With new appointments in the roles of both Treasurer and Petroleum and Energy Minister occurring in recent months, there is no time like the present to consider the recommendations and look to make things easier for business.

Now there is a resolution worth keeping.