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PNG asks Australia for $1.5 billion for roads & anti-corruption

Wera Mori
Wera Mori, PNG's commerce & industry minister

SUE LANNIN | Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extract

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea's government says it wants $1.5 billion from Australia to help finance its 2019 budget, including funding to help fight corruption and to pay for roads in remote areas.

PNG's commerce and industry minister Wera Mori has told PM that the request for direct budget support from Australia was "quite significant".

"The new government has realised that we are in a situation which we need to basically come out of," he said.

"This will go basically towards helping us to cushion the current situation we are in so we can meet complete funding of the 2019 budget to deliver services to the people."

Mr Mori is part of a delegation of senior PNG ministers in Australia to attend a PNG investment conference in Sydney.

PNG is already seeking international help to refinance nearly $12 billion in national debt. However, earlier this month prime minister James Marape denied reports that he had asked for China's assistance.

The PNG request comes as Australia tries to claw back some of China's growing influence in the Pacific and as Pacific leaders step up their attacks on the Australia Government over climate change.

In July this year, Mr Marape set the goal of moving away from an "aid-donor recipient relationship" with Australia.

Mr Mori said any direct budget assistance from Australia would not be used to pay foreign debt.

"I'm not aware of any conditions raised by the Australian government," he said.

"We need to bring in important structural adjustments so that we are able to basically fund our programs, but they must be outlined in such a way that there's a return for the money Australia gives us."

Australia is the biggest aid donor to PNG with $607.5 million in official development assistance granted in 2019-20.

Lowy Institute research fellow Shane McLeod said Australia had not given direct budget assistance to PNG for about 20 years.

"This is something PNG would sincerely like assistance with to get its budget restructured," he said.

Comments

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David Kitchnoge

I think it's becoming too obvious what we are trying to do. Today China. Tomorrow Australia. Back to China. Then to Australia. Then what?

We could do by being a bit more discreet about it.

Geo politics aside, our fiscal shortfall for 2019 is K2.4 billion in the mid year economic and fiscal outlook published by Treasury on the first of this month.

Why do we need K3.7 billion (A$1.5 billion at the current exchange rate)?

William Dunlop

Now the Post-Courier today says China is going to re-finance K27billion of PNG debt.

Quote W C Fields, 'There's one born every minute'.

Who! Australia. China. Papua New Guinea. Marape.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I would have thought that the last thing you need to combat corruption is money.

William Dunlop

Now it's back to Papa Australia, you gimme, gimme $ $ more money.

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