Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel shares updates on the country's development priorities, partnership with ADB and opportunities in hosting APEC 2018.
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Papua New Guinea is hosting this year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum. Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel outlines the opportunities the event will bring and how the country can leverage this exposure to strengthen its focus on achieving its development priorities through long-term and meaningful collaborations with development partners.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Papua New Guinea have been working together since 1971. ADB is Papua New Guinea's largest multilateral partner and provides lending and technical assistance with a focus on the development and improvement of transport and energy infrastructure, health services, and private sector participation.
Why is Papua New Guinea hosting APEC 2018?
APEC is a flash. It provides a brief opportunity for the spotlight of the world to shine on Papua New Guinea. And as brief as that moment is, what we’ve got to do is seize it and translate it into some of the opportunities for the future. We’ve got to sell our story, sell our culture, sell the opportunities here and find like-minded partners in the private sector, NGOs, and so on, to come and help us develop that story.
So APEC provides an opportunity because it’s a global stage for Papua New Guinea.
How is Papua New Guinea supporting private sector development?
The private sector is the primary engine for growth and job creation.
The private sector is the primary engine for growth and job creation. We’ve got to maintain the philosophy that business runs business. Government is in the business of empowerment and creating the circumstance for businesses to flourish.
We need to support them through making it easy to do business, through regulations in Papua New Guinea: Having a robust legal framework and enforceable contracts and enforceable land tenure system, getting the cost of power down, getting the cost of transport down, getting the cost of communication down, and, of course, very importantly provide the opportunity for our people to be driving that process as well.
It’s about Papua New Guineans: Papua New Guineans employment, Papua New Guineans becoming empowered, Papua New Guineans becoming business owners.
What is your vision for Papua New Guinea?
I think Papua New Guinea has got the opportunity to be a leader in global, responsible, sustainable development.
I think Papua New Guinea has got the opportunity to be a leader in global, responsible, sustainable development. With some education, innovation, a bit of smart thinking, good support and help, there’s no reason why Papua New Guinea can’t be a leader in this new development paradigm, which is responsible development.
It’s not all about money and growth. It’s about holistic, balanced lifestyle and economy, which I think is the way of the world anyway. We want to transition quickly to that, and avoid a lot of the mistakes that past development experience has provided. So, sustaining an economy that is responsible and smart and providing solutions and assistance to some of these global imperatives like climate change.
A big vision. We just got to keep working hard each and every day with good partners like the ADB to get there.
How can the Papua New Guinea-ADB partnership support this vision?
ADB is our largest multilateral partner. So, it’s a developing relationship and I’ve always found the ADB to be quite innovative, responsive and open to change.
Papua New Guinea is faced with a range of challenges, like any developing country. And so, the engagement with people like the Asian Development Bank is accessing technical support for policy development based on their experience, and of course, concessional financing to help us create the envelope to support our budgets as part of that process of acceleration.
And that combination of factors has led to many successes in programs such as the Civil Aviation Development Investment Program (CADIP), where we are improving our safety at our airports and of course also upgrading the infrastructure in all our provincial airports.
It applies throughout other programs as well, and the ADB is helping us in a number of key sectors. For many years we’ve been working with the ADB and other institutions, for example, to fix our major highways. We’ve developed a program now, a total value of USD 1 billion, to address the main arterial transport route in Papua New Guinea, which is the Highlands Highway.
There’s also a power program underway at the moment, which is the Town Electrification Investment Program. But we’re developing a broader program with the ADB to address the power issue more in its totality.
And then of course, we have a public-private partnership (PPP) pilot arrangement that the ADB is helping us through a concessionaire arrangement for the Port Moresby International Airport.
The ADB is our largest multilateral partner. So, it’s a developing relationship and I’ve always found the ADB to be quite innovative, responsive and open to change.