Thursday, May 10, 2018

Papua New Guinea welcomes Pacific funding boost by Australia and New Zealand

Papua New Guinea welcomes the enhanced financial commitment of Australia and New Zealand to the Pacific, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato said today.
“The big increase in their budgets by both of these close friends of PNG looks set to give Pacific Island states the opportunity to boost our capacity to develop economically and in governance and security,”Pato said.
“Australia is already our biggest development partner in the Pacific, and to PNG in particular, but this generous increase to $1.3 billion makes it the biggest assistance package ever and so is destined to have a significant impact.
“We are grateful for the support of the esteemed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, his respected Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and all those other ministers I recently met with in Brisbane and London.
“The extremely generous assistance for us to host APEC—nearly $20 million—and to install an underwater communications cable are examples of the support, but let me also mention the funding for future leaders and many other projects too numerous to list.”
Pato  New Zealand, Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced a 30 per cent increase in his country’s foreign aid budget to reach NZ$714 million, "and we are very pleased that this is going to the neighbourhood, to the Pacific".
Pato said it had become clear during recent meetings between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Australian and New Zealand counterparts, as well as between foreign and trade ministers, that the relationship with Papua New Guinea was highly valued.
“As the Pacific Island country with the biggest population, land area and economy, we were strong advocates for boosting the economic, security and general development of all the Pacific Island Forum states and territories, and that was well received by our allies, the Australians and New Zealanders.”

Blue Pacific

 Pato said it was time for the ‘Blue Pacific’ to become a model of development, security and stability, and environmental protection and resilience.
“Our countries form an ‘ocean continent’ and cover a third of the world’s surface, and if we can move ahead in peace and prosperity, then that is a good example to the rest of the world," he said.
“The recent renewed interest in the region by the United Kingdom and France is also a good sign that we will have more opportunities to improve the daily lives of our citizens and the future opportunities for their children.”
Pato said Papua New Guinea also welcomes the development assistance provided by friends such as Japan, the United States of America, South Korea and the People’s Republic of China.
“We encourage those friends to play an appropriate economic and security role in the Pacific as I mentioned, for example to China’s foreign minister, His Excellency Wang Yi just last month,” he said
“As host of APEC this year, we will see all the countries in our region, including the Pacific Island states, come to Papua New Guinea where we believe we will see a renewed commitment to the rules based international order under which trade will be free and fair.”

* Additional Information:

The 2018-19 Australian Government Budget was released on May 8. Total Australian official development assistance to Papua New Guinea will increase from $546.3 million in 2017-18 to $572.2 million in 2018-19.
This funding will go towards initiatives that will directly benefit the lives of Papua New Guineans, such as the new high-speed undersea internet cable to be completed in late-2019, continued access to the Pacific Labour Facility, and continued support for programs that build economic growth and trade opportunities. It will also support ongoing programs in health, education, infrastructure, law and justice, gender and subnational priorities in Papua New Guinea.

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