Tuesday, August 10, 2010

US$40m loan targets major rural projects

PAPUA New Guinea and the World Bank yesterday signed two agreements for concessional financing totalling US$40 million, The National reports.

The loan would be used for agriculture and rural communication projects in the country.

World Bank country director for PNG, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands Ferid Belhaj and Finance and Treasury Minister Peter O’Neill signed the loan

deals at the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby, yesterday.

Under the agreements, World Bank International Development Association would allocate US$15 million for the productive partnerships in agriculture project (PPAP) while the rural communication projects would get US$25 million.

PPAP would go towards assisting coffee farmers in Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands and Chimbu and cocoa growers in East New Britain and Bougainville.

The rural communication project would be trialed in Chimbu and East Sepik.

Belhaj said the two projects were important in improving the lives and reducing poverty in PNG.

Statistics showed that more than 80% of Papua New Guineans live in disadvantaged and isolated rural communities.

He said the signing of these two projects signified the depth and strength of the partnership between the PNG government and World Bank that was based on trends of respect and trust.

Belhaj said the communication programme would greatly improve access for market and access to information for more than 420,000 rural people. It would also allow for 60 public internet accesses through 60 selected districts outside of the two pilot project areas.

O’Neill thanked the World Bank for agreeing to finance these two major projects.

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