PAPUA New Guinea has just one chance, possibly the last chance to get it right when trying to manage growth and its benefits, and especially its human resources, Sir Rabbie Namaliu said last week.
Speaking at the annual conference of Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA), themed “Economic boom: Challenges and opportunities”, he said this was important because so far the country has not got it right.
“This is something that has really tested the patience and the confidence of our people, and has undermined their confidence in our governments,” he said.
Sir Rabbie, who has worked in the private and public sectors, said that no government, since independence ought to be given total or even substantial responsibility for the failure to properly manage economic growth and its benefits.
“Mistakes have been made by all governments, by all prime ministers, including myself.
“I do not want to indulge in the blame-game or overemphasise what we have neglected or failed to achieve over the 35 years but I hope that we will not repeat them”, he said.
Sir Rabbie said the future of PNG was not without significant challenges but with evolving opportunities that outweigh the challenges.
He said recently a lot of emphasis had been on the development of the country’s vast resources of oil, gas, minerals and the finite renewable resources of forestry and fisheries, with a notable exception of the agriculture sector and especially oil palm.
However, he said, our greatest resource was our people.
“Our most important resource is not our gas, oil, any mineral, forests or agriculture. Our most important and valuable resource is our people, the six million men, women and children who make up the community of PNG.
“This resource has been the most neglected, the most undervalued and, frankly, the most mistreated over the last 35 years,” he said.
Sir Rabbie challenged more than 900 participants at the conference to ensure that the looming economic boom delivered significant long-term and fairly shared benefits for PNG.
The former prime minister said that the economic boom benefits should not just be centred on roads, ports, communications and other infrastructures but to focus more on direct and substantial enhancing of living standards of every member of the national community, which should allow them to achieve their dreams, ambitions and aspirations thus contributing meaningfully to the future security of their family, community and the nation.
The two-day conference held at Holiday Inn in Port Moresby was hosted by CPA PNG and Australia PNG branch and is aimed at bringing together all CPA members to ensure that they were kept up to date with current global accounting practices.