The National –Friday, January 7, 2011
TREASURER and Finance Minister Peter O’Neill said the country continues to enjoy economic growth and stability and that his People’s National Congress will support the government in its work.
Now in the economic driver’s position himself, O’Neill said following eight years of economic growth, it was forecasted that the economy would grow by 8% this year.
He said support must be given because there was US$3 billion in foreign reserves today, enough to cover imports for up to 16 months.
“This compares with reserves in 2002 which were sufficient to cover imports for only two months, a rather desperate situation back then.”
O’Neill said under this government’s watch, interest rates had dropped from unsustainable highs of 27-28% down to a manageable 7%.
“Foreign debt had been reduced from about 70% of gross domestic product down to less than 25%.”
He said the opposition could use its democratic rights to move a motion of no-confidence, but it had no alternate policies.
“As far as we are concerned, the only government that has come up with credible policies has also put in place plans that are deliverable.
“This year, we will channel K4 billion in the development budget for the first time to drive the economy of PNG.
“We have invested heavily in key infrastructures such as roads that will drive the development of this country.
“We have invested in education. We have invested in health.”
Planning and District Development Minister Paul Tiensten said aside from economic growth and a comprehensive set of plans, the Somare government had delivered the liquefied natural gas project.
He said without prior experience, the government had stitched together, in record time, a development agreement, a marketing and sales agreement and a top-notch financing plan for about K1.4 billion of the state’s portion.
He said the project would earn the country about K60 billion over its life and triple the budget.
“This country is banking on the LNG project. We do not want to give the wrong signals to the investors,” Tiensten said.
Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru added: “No responsible leader will want to change government when the country is experiencing sustained growth.”