SHARON E. BARNABAS
PAPUA New Guinea is poised for greater economic growth and business development because of its lucrative mineral and petroleum resource developments, Australia and New Zealand Banking (ANZ) Group chief executive officer Mike Smith said.
“PNG has huge optimism in business because of the great opportunities with the natural resources it’s tapping into,” Mr Smith said during a dinner on Monday night at the Crowne Plaza.
Mr Smith said despite a backdrop of struggling global trade and with the world economy “in poor shape”, PNG was faring exceptionally well.
He credited these development to two major developments – the multi-billion LNG project that is expected to have a final investment decision in December and the Ramu nickel project that is set to start operations next year.
With regional economies like China and India increasingly growing, Mr Smith predicted a greater demand for mineral and petroleum products.
As such, PNG would be in a position for breaks in direct foreign investments in business.
On that note, Mr Smith gave assurance that “ANZ is cautiously optimistic” in the development and would continue to brace for business development in PNG.
“My second visit here is a reflection of how important PNG is to ANZ and our strong commitment to business here in PNG,” he said.
“ANZ has seen an optimistic future for PNG to be the engine room of growth for the next decade,” he said.
This is manifested in the opening of the bank’s head office at Harbour City in Port Moresby.
The CEO also announced that as proof of its commitment, it will undertake ongoing changes to the branches, including customer service systems nationwide.
“ANZ is an important contributor to business and our visit is a sign of our commitment to support business,” he said.
After pointing out the positives, he waved a piece of advice for the Government to appreciate the currency carefully because it is still “difficult to deal with the exchange rates”.
Mr Smith and his entourage left the country yesterday afternoon, after holding talks in Port Moresby with the Government and various stakeholders.
He also visited the Moro project site in Southern Highlands because “there will be financing placed in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project (and) it is necessary to see the project site, first hand”.