The National, Friday 19th April 2013
FINANCE Minister James Marape yesterday gave kudos to the European Union (EU) and its 27 member states for continuing to support Papua New Guinea, despite the ongoing Eurozone Crisis in Europe.
Speaking at the launching of the PNG EU brochure, which outlines a new EU aid allocation covering the period 2014-2020, Marape said the government and people of PNG had nothing but gratitude to the EU.
Visiting United Kingdom (UK) Minister of State for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire, who called PNG a “Commonwealth cousin”, also highlighted the EU’s generosity in this time of economic travails in Europe.
“Member countries of EU are still struggling to regain their composure,” Marape said.
“But, in the greater context of global citizenship, you are able to give help like this.
“European Union stands as our second biggest donor partner (after Australia).
“Your focus is very much relevant to our medium term development strategy (MTDS).
“We want to give our greatest appreciation for what the European Union has done for Papua New Guinea since 1977.
“Our journey over these years has been one of hardship as far as development is concerned.
“We would not have come thus far, with European Development Fund (EDF) contributing over the years to what we are today.”
Marape said key objectives of state included education, health, law and order, and infrastructure, and the EU fitted in well as a development partner.
“My heart is warm, knowing the alignment to these key focuses, is taking place,” he said.
“The government and people of PNG are excited that European Union has come on board for 2014-2020 as a development partner.”
Swire concurred with Marape about help coming to PNG despite the economic turmoil in Europe.
“As the minister was kind enough to point out, despite the current economic travails, the EU is still a major world player,” he said.
“It’s the largest consumer bloc, and not just a donor.
“Our (UK) relationship with France and the European Union in Papua New Guinea is based on shared values and responsibilities on issues that relate to our governments and to our people.
“The United Kingdom is very proud, despite our own economic travails, that we are committed to spending nearly 7% of GDP on international development, giving us one of the largest international development budgets in the world.
“In addition to that, the UK is committed to supporting the EU’s work in Papua New Guinea.
“The UK is one of the biggest donors to the European Development Fund, which supports development work in the Pacific, as well as African and Caribbean countries.
“We believe this programme has the potential to improve the livelihood of the majority of Papua New Guineans living in the more-remote rural areas.”