Broaden PNG’s economy base

The business community has called for the broadening of the PNG economy.

And Business Council of PNG President Robert Nilkare says the time to invest in agriculture is now.

Nilkare said agriculture is at the core of all Papua New Guineans and needed significant investment.

Speaking at the Prime Minister’s Back to Business Breakfast in Port Moresby, Nilkare said for too long the mineral sector has been relied on to bolster the economy.

He said while major centres of the country are moving towards technological advancements, the rural people still rely on the cash crop economy.

“The digital economy will certainly be the environment for social and business activities for many Papua New Guineans for many years to come,” stated Nilkare.

“Agriculture will remain a core fabric for our people while services continue to grow and employ more of our people. 

“Now is the time to focus on this sector so they may relieve the resource sector that has been our main economic activity for many years.”

Kina Securities Ltd CEO, Greg Pawson, when delivering an outlook on the 2018 economy, concurred that the economy was narrow however, government policy to support infrastructure should see improvements in exports.

“The economy is very narrow and has limited resilience to shocks. Pleasingly though, non-mineral GDP growth this year is expected to pick up to pick up from 1.9 percent to 3.5 percent, driven largely by policies to support the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.”

Prime Minister O’Neill concurred saying the 2018 Budget captures this vision.

“The Government is committed in making sure we broaden our economy base. That is something that has been lacking for many years.

“We don’t want to be overly dependent on the oil and gas sector and mineral sector.

“We want to make sure we address the issues around agriculture, fisheries and tourism and other areas with great potential in this country,” said O’Neill.

“We must get our balance right between developing our oil and gas reserves and developing our other sectors of the economy.

“We cannot keep letting our economy be held at ransom to the boom and bust cycles that we have been experiencing.”

Cedric Patjole