ADB flags possible PNG Gas project involvement

THE Asian Development Bank has hinted at possible financial involvement in the $US2.5 billion ($A3.3 billion) PNG Gas project as part of its $290 million commitment to PNG through its new medium-term development strategy for the country, which was outlined overnight.
ADB flags possible PNG Gas project involvement ADB flags possible PNG Gas project involvement ADB flags possible PNG Gas project involvement ADB flags possible PNG Gas project involvement ADB flags possible PNG Gas project involvement

The ADB said the funds would be delivered through its new development strategy within a timeframe of 2006-2010, which has the objective of investing in one major project each year.

Some of the priority projects being discussed include the ADB’s involvement in the gas project, expansion of Lae Port and the upgrading of sections of the Highlands Highway.

“PNG is an important member of ADB and we are determined to help the country achieve its medium-term development goals,” ADB’s Pacific Department director general Philip Erquiaga said.

The ABD said poor economic performance of PNG during the 1990s had lead to unacceptable levels of poverty in the country – 54% of the population were estimated to live in poverty in 2003 compared with 37.5% in 1996.

“After a difficult period in the 1990s, the economy has performed well in recent years and the Government now has an opportunity to invest in rehabilitating roads and maritime infrastructure, to rebuild health and education services and to strengthen PNG’s governance,” Erquiaga adds.

Public surveys were said to have indicated the priorities of the poor as job creation, economic opportunities, and the rebuilding of the delivery of public services such as health and education.

“We have noticed a clear improvement in the performance of a number of ADB financed projects in the past two years,” ADB country director in PNG Steven van der Tak said.

“With a new country strategy now in place, ADB and the Government can focus on building upon these recent successes and delivering even better results for the people of PNG. The recent approval of additional finance for repairing rural feeder roads in the Highlands is an example of this approach.”

The ADB said there three critical challenges that needed to be addressed by PNG if the country hoped to achieve broad-based and consistent development.

Firstly, “it must find ways to convert its natural resources into sustainable, concrete development results for its people”.

Secondly, it must broaden the base of its economy and its basis for growth and job creation, and thirdly, it must improve its health and education services.

“In each area, firm action to strengthen governance will be required,” the ADB said.

PNG joined the ADB in 1971 and had received $927.6 million in total assistance at the end of 2005.

The country’s borrowing from ADB has lowered considerably in recent years, with only four new loan projects approved since 2001.

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