The National, Wednesday July 24th, 2013
By MALUM NALU
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill was unable to give exact figures of benefits to be received from Australia for the refugee resettlement deal.
O’Neill outlined a number of major projects to be funded by Australia, which PNG would have more say, but he could not provide the figures.
He said the projects included the redevelopment of the University of Papua New Guinea and PNG University of Technology, redevelopment of Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, reconstruction of Ramu Highway linking Lae and Madang, construction of facilities for magistrates and the lower courts at Waigani, as well as development across the board in Manus.
“It will cost into millions of kina but I just can’t give you a figure that is imaginary,” he told reporters at Jackson Airport after arriving from Brisbane where he signed the refugee resettlement agreement with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
“I will certainly comment that these projects will be done as we’ve agreed.”
O’Neill said the benefits to PNG from Australia for resettling refugees would be very tangible.
“For the first time we are recycling our aid programme with Australia where we, the PNG Government, will set all the priorities under which Australian aid programme will be directed towards,” he said.
“Our priorities are very clear, it’s nothing new. We have stated very clearly health, education, law and order, infrastructure, are our priorities. This is where the aid programme will now be directed to.
“I want to thank the Australian government for taking on some of the biggest challenges that we’ve been having, under this programme, and to fast track and make sure that they are implemented in the near future.
“One of these, of course, is the funding of the Garnaut-Namaliu Project, which is to rebuild all the universities in the country.
“It is important that we use this occasion to help University of PNG rebuilding, and expanding capacity of the University of Technology.
“We are also going to rebuild the Angau Hospital, something that we have failed do as a government and as a country, for quite some time.
“We have also agreed to rebuild and reconstruct the Ramu Highway, close to 90km of highway that we have also neglected as a country.
“We are also going to construct a new court system for the magistrates and the lower courts in Waigani.”