PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (5 December 2012) – While Papua New Guinea (PNG) has maintained its position as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia and the Pacific in 2012, the gap between rich and poor is increasing.
“Remote and rural communities in PNG remain cut off from economic opportunities due to poor roads and lack of reliable, safe shipping services, as the gap between rich and poor grows wider,” said Xianbin Yao, Director General of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific Department said at a special year end ADB event in Port Moresby. “Economic growth must be accompanied by a narrowing of inequality to ensure future prosperity in PNG.”
The ADB event provided updates on ADB projects and programs in Papua New Guinea and discussed potential challenges and opportunities that will be faced by the PNG Government and development partners in 2013.
“ADB in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea is rehabilitating critical roads and bridges to help promote the safe and efficient movement of people and goods around the country which will result in improved service delivery,” said Marcelo Minc, Country Director of ADB’s Papua New Guinea Resident Mission.
Openness to trade will also be a key ingredient in PNG’s future prosperity, the forum was told. By connecting PNG’s local producers to domestic, regional, and global markets, trade will help fight poverty, boost the economy, raise living standards and improve access to basic services.
The forum heard,PNG’s private sector has more than doubled over the past seven years, largely due to the combination of sensible monetary and fiscal policies and structural reforms in financial services, telecommunications and aviation to boost business investment and encourage economic diversification.
The recently released 2013 National Budget foreshadows a significant scaling up of funding to priority sectors of health, education, law and order, and infrastructure. In line with its current PNG Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), ADB aims to work together with the PNG Government to implement its planned infrastructure investments (including support forroad, seaport, and airport rehabilitation and improvement; community water transport; and renewable power generation), private sector development, and regional cooperation. The CPS also commits ADB to helping the government deliver rural primary health services.
ADB and the Government of Australia through the Microfinance Expansion Project is strengthening industry regulation and increase the capacity of Nationwide Microbank to deliver a wider range of financial services and products to rural areas, with a focus on lending to micro and small enterprises, and especially to women, who struggle to access credit and income-generating opportunities.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2011, ADB approvals including co-financing totaled $21.7 billion.