Monday, October 22, 2012

Papua New Guinea is here to help Fiji: O’Neill

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, looks out at Suva City from the roof top of the Grand Pacific Hotel on Saturday. Photo: NAVNEET NARAYAN

By ELLEN STOLZ of Fiji Sun

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has reassured current and potential investors that his Government will continue to support Fiji.
“We have no trouble stating that Fiji will return to a democratically elected Government and the assurances we are getting from the Prime Minister and the rest of the leaders from the Government shows us it is happening,” Mr O’Neill said.
The PNG head made these comments as he was given a tour of the Grand Pacifi c Hotel in Suva on Saturday.
He said: “We see no reason why our investors should not continue to invest in Fiji. We have every confidence that the economy will continue to do well in fact we know it will improve.”
He also applauded the efforts done to the ‘Grand Lady’ or the Grand Pacific Hotel and said: “At times we tend to forget about buildings that hold so much historical value. I know that by the time the work on the hotel is complete that it will once again become a historical landmark for Fiji.
We cannot wait to see the project completed in 2014.”
The Fiji National Provident Fund, the National Superannuation Fund of Papua New Guinea and the Lamana Group, also of PNG, have come together to collaborate on the project.
The collaboration also indicates growing ties between the two Melanesian Spearhead Group countries.
Mr O’Neill also reaffi rmed PNG’s position when it came to Fiji and encouraging investors to the region and the country.
“We have a lot of Fijian investment going into PNG also and we are encouraging that and we encourage more investment from PNG to Fiji.
“Trade between our two countries has increased every year and we look forward to that continuing because it provides a lot more opportunities for our services in terms of employment and also income earning opportunities,” Mr O’Neill said.
He added that countries like Australia, New Zealand and others in the region were starting to engage with Fiji more and that the sooner Fiji returns to more engagement with the Pacific the better.
Of closer Melanesian ties, Mr O’Neill said: “We will discuss about labour mobility within the region.
“I think that Fiji has a lot of skilled people who can find employment in our country and we are trying to relax some of our visa requirements so that many of them can enter the workforce easily and this is also vice versa from people from PNG to come to Fiji and work.”

2014 Elections
On the 2014 elections, he said: “The Papua New Guinea Government has offered to assist wherever we can both fi nancially and in terms of technical support if we are required to do so; we stand ready to assist Fiji in whatever capacity we can,” he said.
“The discussions that we have had with the Prime Minister indicate that the framework for the constitution is going well and the consultations with the stakeholders are going well and we are happy with the progress that has been made so far,” he said.

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