Aust open to help PNG: Minister


AUSTRALIA wants to help the PNG government address its fiscal and economic challenges, says the Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Saselja.
Saselja said during a conference yesterday that Australia had in the past two years provided US$400 million (about K1.3 billion) in loans towards PNG’s budget priorities.
“This is on top of substantial development assistance provided through our bilateral programme,” Saselja said.
“We are working to support PNG’s aspirations to lay the foundation for future growth.
“PNG faces a significant challenge in providing employment and prosperity for its young and rapidly growing population.
“We have heard PNG’s call for quality infrastructure to support development.
“There is now a pipeline of projects under the AU$2 billion (about K5 billion) Australian infrastructure financing facility for the Pacific.
“These will include investments in electricity, roads and ports.”
He said the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic presented a challenge for businesses operating across borders.
“We have worked with Air Niugini to ensure that commercial flights to Australia never stopped. We have also assisted the PNG government introduce pre-departure Covid-19 testing at Jackson international airport.
“We also worked closely with businesses to support travel exemptions arrangement for workers in the resources sector.”
On Aug 11, restrictions for travel from Australia to PNG returned to global settings although Covid-19 restrictions remain in place.