The ADB has been involved with PNG’s development for 50 years, and is PNG’s largest multilateral funding partner.
The comments were in the context of a meeting on Wednesday between Prime Minister James Marape, Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey, Finance Minister John Pundari, Works Minister Michael Nali, Health Minister Jelta Wong and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director, David Hill.
Going forward, the Prime Minister requested ADB to continue to support the government and the people of PNG in the transport and health sectors, in the energy and education sectors, and with much needed continued reforms to State Owned Enterprises.
The Treasurer stated the importance of friendly foreign support from the ADB in navigating the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, he thanked the ADB for the massive increase in project financing in recent years, supported by improved national budgeting in providing counter-part financing, along with the $US500 million in budget support in 2020.
The Treasurer stated that the project loans being discussed are about building a better and more productive economy. Average rates of return are expected at 12 percent a year with interest costs of only 2 percent per year – supporting gains in growth of 10 percent per annum.
There was specific discussion of the transport and health sectors as well.
Minister Nali outlined the priorities of the Marape administration’s “Connect PNG” transport sector strategy which is being designed by the ADB’s newly approved Project Readiness Facility for PNG, “Transport Sector Preparatory Project”.
This project will study and design: the Trans-island Highway (Port Moresby to Lae), the Momase Highway (Somare Highway), and extension of the Highlands Highway and feeder road network west of Mt. Hagen.
There was also discussion of the project to rehabilitate and sustainably maintain 430 kilometres of the Highlands Highway, which was progressing well overall. There was some discussion of the performance and quality of works of some contractors and how this could be fixed.
Health Minister Wong discussed continued progress under ADB financed Health Services Sector Development Program and the COVID-19 support that ADB provided in late 2020. Given the success of these programs, Prime Minister Marape requested ADB to consider a new project in the health sector to support the construction of 15 provincial hospitals.
(The Prime Minister and key ministers meeting with the ADB on April 22nd)