Then National, Wednesday 12th September, 2012
ACTING Prime Minister Leo Dion says Papua New Guinea has emerged a leader in the Pacific, and an important economic and trade partner for powerful economies in Asia and the Pacific.
“Papua New Guinea’s role as a leader in the Pacific, and our emergence as an important economic and trading nation in the region, is getting the nod of recognition from powerful global players like the US and China,” Dion said.
“With our economic growth now the envy of most countries, we cannot miss the opportunity we have to directly engage with leaders of these powerful economies and forums like the Pacific Islands Forum and Association of Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).” present us these opportunities.
“Prime Minister Peter O’Neill concluded a highly successful leaders meeting of the PIF in the Cook Islands, and flew to Russia for the APEC meeting.
“He is in China at the invitation of the Chinese government to meet the new leader of China, and to continue discussions for a possible loan with the EXIM Bank of China.”
Dion was responding to criticism from the opposition on O’Neill’s attendances of those meetings and fears the loan from China might blow debt.
The Opposition’s Tobias Kulang said that O’Neill left no-one to run the nation, while Bulolo MP Sam Basil claimed that O’Neill’s team was overseas partying and relaxing.
Dion said the Opposition was embarrassing itself with comments. That suggested they understood very little about these regional forums.
“As the prime minister said publicly upon his return from the Cook Island, PNG is a leader in the Pacific and must demonstrate its leadership role in the PIF. Our growing economy is attracting interest from powerful economies who are APEC members.
“We are members of these organisations and we must attend or we miss opportunities that present themselves.
“If the Opposition requested, one of its members would have been invited to travel to make their input,” Dion said.
“We appreciate criticisms from the opposition, but they must be constructive and show a certain level of maturity and understanding of issues they want to debate.”
On the opposition’s criticism of the proposed loan from China, Dion said it was public knowledge even before the country went to the general election.