PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS ANNOUNCED what Prime Minister Peter O’Neill calls a ‘substantial’ aid program to the Pacific region.
“This is in line with the announcement by former PNG Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare that PNG will start embarking on a program of regional development assistance to the Pacific,” Mr O’Neill told journalists.
The first three Forum island countries to receive development aid from PNG are Tuvalu, Tonga and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
“Today we are delivering K5 million to Tuvalu for climate change assistance program and another K5 million to Tonga for their relief program as a result of cyclones recently.
“So far we have also assisted a few countries who are in need of development assistance. We have now assisted Samoa during the cyclone and off course through the assistance of acquiring vessels for the Pacific Forum Line,” he said.
Earlier this year, PNG announced its assistance of K50 million to Fiji to assist the Pacific nation prepare for elections next year.
“PNG is able to do this because it has experienced enormous growth, averaging 6% per annum,” Mr O’Neill said.
“That growth is expected to continue to grow in the medium term and we are expected to double our GDP in a couple of years. That has enabled us to have additional resources to help other FICS and communities throughout the region.”
PM O’Neill brushed aside suggestions that PNG was aspiring to become a major aid donor in the Pacific.
“We will share our responsibility and resources. We are committed to become an active member of the region.
“We know the challenges that members face in the region are similar to ours and off course we have our own at home. But in a true Melanesian and Pacific way, we are there to help where we can.”