PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (25 August 2017) — Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao today met with Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. Mr. Nakao was invited for lunch with the Prime Minister during his stopover in Port Moresby, after he visited Solomon Islands earlier this week. Mr. Nakao and the Prime Minister discussed how ADB can further strengthen its support to help the country meet its development goals. This is the second time they met, the first occasion being in June 2013 when Mr. Nakao visited PNG.
Mr. Nakao congratulated the reelection of the Prime Minister on 2 August for his second 5-year term and commended PNG for its economic and social development. PNG has achieved a remarkable 13 straight years of economic expansion — averaging GDP growth of just under 6% per year. Over the last decade, PNG has benefitted tremendously from foreign direct investment in extractive industries and high commodity exports. Primary school enrollment is now close to 90%. Still, challenges remain in accessing energy, markets, and social services.
“ADB will continue to work with the government to support economic growth, rural development, and improved access to social services,” said Mr. Nakao.
The Prime Minister appreciated ADB’s assistance for infrastructure and provision of social services in the past 46 years. ADB is the largest development partner for infrastructure in PNG, particularly in transport and energy.
Since PNG joined ADB in 1971, ADB has approved loans and grants totaling $2.6 billion, of which $1 billion is concessional loans, $15 million grants and $74 million for non-sovereign projects. ADB’s support to PNG is guided by its Country Partnership Strategy 2016-2020 approved in 2015, and aligned with the government’s Development Strategic Plan, 2010-2030.
ADB is scaling up its financing in PNG, aimed at an annual assistance of more than $300 million in 2018-2020. ADB will reform its procurement and other business processes to adapt to the development needs of Pacific Island countries without compromising its safeguards and integrity standards. Staffing in ADB’s resident mission in PNG will also be strengthened. These expansions in operations and resources are in line with ADB’s new approach to the Pacific, 2016-2020.
In the coming years, ADB will assist PNG in planning and implementing a successful conversion of its natural resource wealth into inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic growth. ADB is committed to supporting PNG to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and COP21 commitments. Its focus will continue to be on transport, energy, and health sectors.
In the area of transport, ADB approved in June 2017 the first tranche (ADB $300 million with Australia’s cofinancing of $11.5 million) of a $1 billion multi-tranche financing facility torehabilitate and upgrade the Highlands Highway, the nation’s most strategic road that traverses its most populous and resource-abundant region.
Under an ongoing Health Sector Development Project, ADB is helping upgrade 32 rural health clinics, and training about 1,450 health workers in such areas as obstetric care, midwifery, family planning, and clinical supervision. Mr. Nakao indicated to the Prime Minister that ADB is planning a hybrid health sector project, amounting to about $400 million in 2018. This project will have a component for hospitals and clinics in rural areas, and a policy-based component to support the health sector budget for good public financial management and health sector reform.
ADB is also planning a multi-tranche financing facility of $600 million for renewable energy to help PNG reach a target of 70% electrification by 2030 from the current 13%.
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, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—including 14 Pacific developing member countries. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing. In 2019, Fiji will be the first ADB Pacific developing member country to host an ADB annual meeting.