Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill says the nation must now focus on tourism and other sectors “beyond the LNG development-driven boom”.
He told the Australia-PNG Business Council in Cairns that attention should be on opportunities beyond the resources sector.
The theme of the 30th forum organised by the two business councils was “Papua New Guinea: Opportunities beyond the boom”.
“I can assure you the forum theme is a relevant one,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“How we in Papua New Guinea manage and maximise the opportunities beyond the LNG development-driven boom is a challenge for my government and our private sector development partners, alike.
“I hope the members of both councils will work with my government to grow our small to medium enterprise sector and help ensure tendering for public works and infrastructure becomes even more competitive.
“We need support to grow our tourism industry – and in that regard I hope we can partner more with successful tourism operators in Cairns and the Far North.
“I want to stress that we are mindful of the challenges and the potential pitfalls, the post-LNG initial boom presents.
“We are entering a period when the massive benefits of the construction phase are scaling down and will end quite quickly.
“The challenge is to bring forward gas and oil projects, and get mining moving again just as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, we need to provide the modern and efficient infrastructure a growing economy must have.
“And we must ensure the viability of our tree crop sectors – our largest real employer and income generator – some parts of which have been hit hard by low prices and poor infrastructure and extension services.
“I am confident the total package we have put together – underpinned by responsible borrowings and debt – will minimise as far as possible the impact of the end of the initial LNG boom.
“But it needs the private sector to work closely with government to ensure that is the outcome.”
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill painted a glowing picture of PNG. “Our economy will grow at a record level next year,” he said. “Our export performance remains sound. Our budget position is manageable. We are running deficit budgets because our future income stream will be strong. “We remain a robust parliamentary democracy. I have a record majority in Parliament, but I take nothing for granted.”