PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the country’s economy has turned the corner and will see improvements in the New Year.
In his New Year message, the prime minister said that commodity prices were improving and new investment in the resources sector would stimulate economic activity and create jobs.
“Even during recent tough times we maintained positive economic growth, and Papua New Guinea is seen as very politically stable,” O’Neill said.
“That is what our businesses and our investors are all looking for in the years ahead.”
In giving a brief about this year’s events, O’Neill said the general election affirmed the underlying strength in the country’s parliamentary democracy.
“A strong and stable government, supported by an overwhelming majority in the national parliament is the foundation that will guide us through the challenges and opportunities of the coming five years,” he said.
“Firstly, our free education policy has been delivered, and the quality of education will be improved,” he said.
“We will train and employ more teachers, build more school buildings and continue to increase resources for teaching materials and technologies.
“Secondly, we will build on our basic free healthcare commitment by re-building hospitals and health centres. We will strengthen the work of church hospitals and other health services, and the vital work of agencies such as the YWAM Medical Ships programme.
“Thirdly, we will continue to re-build and expand our critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports and ports. The Highlands Highway remains a high priority and this vital road will be rebuilt and delivered to an international standard.
“And fourthly, we are successfully decentralising decision making to local communities in district administrations and local-level government.”
O’Neill said the four policy areas were important areas that would directly benefit the people.
He said the budget for 2018 was prepared with great care.
“We will not indulge in spending we cannot afford, and we will ensure as much of the burden as is possible is carried by the Government and its agencies, not by businesses and communities,” the prime minister said.
“The fundamentals of our economy are strong, we have sound GDP growth and increasing resources available to invest in key areas.
“We all know that our all-important agricultural sector requires significant Government and private sector investment.
“By working smarter, we can meet our domestic food needs and generate vital export income for our nation.
“Rebuilding and expanding the farm and agricultural sector is a key priority in the year ahead.
“We will assist producers to improve the quality of their crops, and we will improve the infrastructure in rural communities across the nation.
“We need more businesses that are owned and managed by our own people who are employing young Papua New Guineans and helping communities to grow and prosper.
“These policy commitments all provide their own challenges, but with a stable government, sound fiscal policies, and your support, we turn challenge into opportunity.
“The year ahead will improve perceptions of our country as chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) Summit.
“This is the most important international event in our history, and it will bring together the leaders and senior business executives of Apec’s other 20 member economies that account for more than half of total global trade.
“The way the world looks at Papua New Guinea will change for the better, and this will stimulate new investment and business, and create more jobs for our people.
“In sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism, transportation, and mining, and in enhancing the role of women in our economy and helping SMEs, Apec will make a very positive contribution to strengthening our capacity.
“I wish you and your family, and people around Papua New Guinea, the very best for a happy, safe and successful 2018.
“Happy New Year, Papua New Guinea.
Source : The National