Maru puts agriculture on budget priority


CABINET will allocate a massive amount of funding under a State Equity Fund in the 2018 budget for investments in agriculture, National Planning and Monitoring Minister Richard Maru says.
He told the national agriculture summit in Port Moresby yesterday that the funding would allow the Government to participate in major agricultural investments as equity partners.
“I can assure you that in the 2018 budget that will be handed down next week, you will see a massive shift in the priority of Government,” he said.
“Economic growth is the number one priority for our government. Yes, we will still do the hospitals, we will still do the roads. But the focus will be on the economic growth.
“So in the budget next week, you will see a massive amount under a budget item called State Equity Fund. That fund is for us to become equity partners in agriculture and in other sectors to attract foreign partners to invest in some areas where the risk is quite high.”
Maru said the State would be the lead partner “where we think it’s a high-risk place, where we think the private sector will need to be given the comfort and security”.
“When the business takes off and is profitable, then we can offload it to other Papua New Guineans to buy the Government interest,” he said.
“We’ve invested in a dairy project (Illimo Dairy Farm) because it’s a new industry.”
Maru said future budgets would also focus on growing the economy.