By MALUM NALU
Major agricultural company NGIP Agmark believes the creation of a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) will help to offset the effects of “Dutch Disease” brought about by the liquefied natural gas project.
Company representative Graham McNally said this at a workshop last Friday focusing on the impact of LNG on the PNG economy, with particular reference to agriculture.
“We believe that this approach to containing the effect of rapid economic growth is correct” he said.
“There must be industry recognition and support for this initiative.
“However, demand-driven domestic inflation will remain an issue.”
McNally said the exchange rate was a primary concern for agricultural commodity exporters like NGIP Agmark.
“It diminishes any benefit that has been achieved through structural adjustment policy during past two decades,” he said.
“We should look at a two- tier exchange rate, or more practically, a supported exchange rate for agricultural commodity exports.”
McNally said impending ‘Dutch Disease’ further supported calls for agricultural industry support and investment, in areas such as:
• Investment in tropical tree stock upgrade;
• Tropical tree crop stocks must be seen as a national good;
• Long-overdue replacement of current tree stocks such as coconut and copra;
• Underinvestment in agriculture for several decades; and
• Development or implementation of sectoral strategic plans.
He said there should be public sector investment in agriculture with the aim of reducing costs of production across the value, through building and maintaining roads and bridges, wharves and jetties, and subsiding water transport.
McNally said because of the labour and skilled worker shortage brought about by the LNG project, there should be increased emphasis on smallholder development and a move away from plantations.