PNG on the road to growth

FUNDING worth $US150 million ($A159.7 million) is to be invested in Papua New Guinea’s agricultural industries and roads infrastructure thanks to an international aid deal.
PNG on the road to growth
PNG on the road to growth
PNG on the road to growth
PNG on the road to growth
PNG on the road to growth

The Papua New Guinean government signed agreements with the World Bank, which will officially release $150 million in International Development Association credits for two major initiatives.

PNG Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch and World Bank East Asia and Pacific vice-president Axel van Trotsenburg signed the deal.

The first agreement provides $30 million in additional funds to expand PNG's largest agriculture program, the productive partnerships in agriculture project, with the aim of doubling coffee and cocoa production over the next five years.

A second agreement provides for $126.5 million in additional financing for the second phase of the ongoing roads maintenance and rehabilitation project (RMRP II), which started in 2011.

Since it began, RMRP II has improved 140km of national roads, supporting economic growth by improving connectivity and access to markets and services.

The funds will enable the project to continue upgrading hundreds of kilometres of roads in the country's coastal provinces and will also pilot alternative methods for road maintenance to generate jobs in local communities, especially for women.

"These new investments build on successful projects that are already supporting agriculture, building roads and boosting incomes for people in Papua New Guinea," Trotsenburg said.

"We hope this additional support for the government will expand support for livelihoods in some of the poorest areas of PNG.

"These two projects demonstrate strong, continued World Bank support for Papua New Guinea as it works to reduce urban and rural poverty, diversify the economy and increase opportunities across a wide range of industries."

The roads project will upgrade priority roads in a number of coastal provinces, including the East Coast Road in Milne Bay and will pilot an integrated maintenance program for the Hiritano Highway, a major economic lifeline for the region, which connects Gulf and Central provinces.

Road maintenance programs will engage local communities and are expected to create more than 1100 days of employment.

Meanwhile, the PPAP funding will continue supporting the creation of partnerships between farmers and non-governmental organisations, farmer group cooperatives and local businesses.

The project is also helping cocoa farmers manage the impact of cocoa pod borer, which has had a devastating impact on crop yields.

PNG's coffee and cocoa production have both declined over the last decade, with many trees over 40 years old.

"We want to put money in the pockets of our people in rural areas, to help them reach markets and fight pests like the cocoa pod borer," Pruaitch said.

"Making investments in infrastructure and in our cash crop sectors is investing in our people.

"The PNG government is committed to helping improve year-round access to markets and services and we are pleased to work with the World Bank and tap into their global expertise as we expand these two important projects."

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