MANUS Province has some good things going for it beginning this year.
Prime Minister James Marape, in Manus to celebrate the New Year and spend time with the people, has made a commitment of K50 million in total to support impact projects for the province. High among them is the construction of the N’Drauke industrial port which lays the foundation for the establishment of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone.
The Prime Minister arrived in the province on Friday (Dec 31, 2021) with his wife, Rachael; and accompanied by Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, William Samb; Secretary Ivan Pomaleu, and several government officials.
In Lorengau, the Prime Minister was welcomed to the province by Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin and Speaker of National Parliament and local MP, Job Pomat in a ceremony witnessed by members of the Manus Provincial Government (MPG), leaders of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Manus, and the people of Manus.
He then committed a cheque of K10 million to the MPG for the maintenance of Lorengau town roads before visiting the provincial hospital where he presented another cheque of K10 million for the extension of the Covid containment facility and various other maintenance on the hospital.
The evening of Friday and the rest of Saturday, the Prime Minister and Mrs Marape spent time with fellow SDA members at Rossun Village for the 75th diamond jubilee of the SDA mission in Rossun.
The Prime Minister took the opportunity on Sunday to visit Momote Airport to see progress work on the new Momote Airport terminal, constructed by Chinese firm AG Investment Limited, which nears completion.
When done, the terminal will add to the new infrastructure Manus will be receiving within the next five years, including the development of the Manus East-West Highway, the construction of the N’Drauke industrial port, and the construction of a brand new world-class hospital to replace the dilapidated hospital that has served this island province since 1963.
In line with the development of Manus, the Marape-led Government is also intending to pass legislation to declare Manus a tax-free zone.
PM Marape encouraged the people of Manus to get into agriculture and business as his government continued putting in place enabling infrastructure to grow the Manus economy, which to date, has remained small.
The Prime Minister is also intending to upgrade the status of Momote Airport to ‘international’ status in line with his plan to grow tourism in a big way for Manus. The new airport terminal is nearing completion and expected to open early this year.
PM Marape said Manus had “great potential to become the tourist capital of Papua New Guinea”, and encouraged the people of Manus to begin preparing to get into tourism and the spin-offs of fisheries associated with the anticipated Pacific Marine Industries Zone (PMIZ) – a major fisheries project earmarked for development in the province.
The PMIZ becomes one of the first projects in the Government’s efforts to start downstream processing of the country’s resources beginning with fisheries. Manus and Madang have been identified for the PMIZ project.
The Prime Minister has always spoken up in support of downstream processing to keep benefits in the value chain of resources in the country, including jobs. For the Manus PMIZ, up to 5,000 jobs will be created within the set-up of the canneries alone.
He said during the New Year visit: “Manus, you are not alone. It does not matter whether you are the smallest or the furthest; our Government is a rural-focused government.
“You have the potential to be be come tourism capital of PNG.
We are focused on getting the rural parts of the country connected in infrastructure, government services, and economic empowerment to harness the potential and resources that God has blessed us with in all parts of the country.”
“You have the potential to become the tourist capital of PNG. You are already on the outside. You are strategically located, only six hours flight from China, three hours from Philippines, and one hour less than Port Moresby from Japan.
“China alone exported up to 80 million tourists a year to Australia in the pre-Covid days. China has the highest number of billionaires in the world even ahead of America, and over five million millionaires. These people need rest and fresh air; somewhere to relax and unwind.
“We can make Manus the tourist capital of Papua New Guinea. That is the way I am thinking into the future.”
Manus is already renowned for its many beautiful islands and atolls and is steeped in the history of World War 2, relics of which are all over the islands. With the perfect island environment, history and culture, Manus is poised to become a great tourist destination.
But the Prime Minister also reminded the people of the importance of putting in place enabling infrastructure to allow these developments to take place.
“But tourism cannot grow if we do not have enabling infrastructure. Business cannot grow if we do not have enabling infrastructure such as good airline services, good health, good telecommunication, good power, and so on,” he said.
“If we can put a modern hospital here, we can tick off that one place is ready as far as health requirements is concerned.
“Our economy must grow by the hands of you rural people; you must hold up the economy and our society through your participation.
“Manus must grow into a robust economy. You are bigger than most Pacific island nations. You can be a robust economy yourself.”