The National, Friday, May 6, 2011
By BOSORINA ROBBY
PAPUA New Guinea has been identified in a United Nation-sponsored survey to be the star performer among the Pacific Islands’ economies with a 7.1% GDP growth last year, compared to 5.5% in 2009.
The report titled “Asia-Pacific economies face fresh challenges to sustaining dynamic growth of 2010” , which was launched yesterday, was conducted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
It stated that PNG was one of three economies in the Asia-Pacific region to record improved GDP growth performance, with most of the other islands virtually stagnating.
UN resident coordinator Dr Bertrand Desmoulins, who presented the report to the Bank of PNG’s acting governor Benny Popoitai, highlighted other results of the survey, including challenges the region would face this year.
With 8.8% growth last year, the economies of Asia-Pacific recovered strongly from the global financial crisis in 2008-09 but challenges facing them now include the return of the food and fuel price crises, sluggish recovery in the advanced economies and a deluge of short term capital flows leading to volatility in capital markets, asset bubbles and appreciating exchange rates.
The report stated that PNG’s strong economic growth was a result of good higher commodity prices from strong demands of oil, gold, copper, coffee, cocoa and palm oil, and also from the LNG project.
It, however, warned of the high inflation rates that would occur.
Desmoulins said while overall, there was deceleration in inflation in some major Pacific Islands’ developing economies, PNG recorded the highest inflation rate in this region at 6% last year.
The report further revealed that PNG was expected to lead the growth of the Pacific Islands’ economies of 2.4% with an 8% growth this year, boosted by rising commodity prices and growth in domestic demand coupled with acceleration in investment in the LNG and several mining projects.
However, the resource boom needed to be well managed so that rapid economic expansion does not translate into continuously high inflation.
Desmoulins stated that the government was encouraged to translate the funds from the resource boom into social benefits, especially for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable population groups.
The report identified that the ever-present challenge for the Pacific Island developing economies, including PNG, was to diversify their economies, having been seen now as the growth driver and anchor of stability of the global economy.