By ISAAC NICHOLAS
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has reaffirmed the United States of America’s commitment to assist Papua New Guinea avoid the “resource curse” by building institutional capacity to govern revenue from its natural resource extraction.
She said that PNG, with its vast natural resources, would become a strong regional leader but must have strong commitment to governance, accountability and transparency.
“The United States stands ready to assist translate Papua New Guinea’s natural resources into a vibrant developing nation,” Clinton said.
She told a joint media conference after her meeting with Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare on bilateral issues.
“A lot of countries with such excitement like what is happening here have not done it.
“As Papua New Guinea begins to develop its liquefied natural gas (LNG) resources, the US state department hopes to assist the PNG government,
especially the department of Petroleum and Energy, as well as tax and finance agencies, to maximise value and efficiency of oil and gas production and revenue flows.”
She said the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative (EGCI) would seek to bolster institutional capacities related to governance, revenue management and technical capability. Clinton said she was very excited to visit PNG after her husband, former US president Bill Clinton’s visit to promote his Clinton Foundation in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
She said her planned visit in January was cancelled due to the earthquake in Haiti that forced her to turn back from Honolulu, Hawaii.
“It is well known that the journey from Washington DC to Port Moresby is a long one. But I left to come see you in January and I am only arriving now. So, thank you for your patience, I am thrilled to be here today.”
She said the government and people of PNG were trusted partners today, and had been for more than 60 years and that was why she saw the visit as a privilege and a priority.
Clinton said the partnership was serious and wide-ranging and soon new grounds would be broken for a new and larger embassy in Port Moresby.
She arrived in Port Moresby at 5pm and left about 11pm for the New Zealand-Australia leg of the regional visit.
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare said they had a wonderful dialogue on a number of issues including climate change, women empowerment, human smuggling and trafficking, gender development and US assistance.