Prime Minister Hon. James Marape reaffirmed the substantial progress made by Papua New Guinea since his inaugural address at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, in July 2019.
Addressing the Lowy Institute on Monday, December 11, 2023, Prime Minister Marape outlined significant achievements and acknowledged persisting challenges that require attention. He emphasised the ongoing need to address issues such as public service effectiveness, law-and-order, political instability at all government levels, exposure to global economic inflation, and fragile economic fundamentals.
Highlighting the positive aspects, Prime Minister Marape underscored Papua New Guinea’s proximity to major markets such as China, Japan, India, Korea, and Indonesia. Additionally, he expressed the government’s interest in enhancing trade relations with the USA and Australia, with a long-term focus on downstream processing of resources.
“Papua New Guinea is still emerging as I speak,” Prime Minister Marape stated before a captivated audience at the Lowy Institute.
“The last time I was here, on July 25, 2019, my conversation was on ‘A New Book for Papua New Guinea’.
“We are closing the chapter of our nation’s history, especially the part associated with complacency and corruption, and moving into a new phase in our nation’s life.”
Providing an economic snapshot, Prime Minister Marape highlighted the growth from a K79 million economy in 2019 to K110 billion in the present, noting a positive trajectory. He underscored the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since taking office in 2019, a significant step toward transparency and accountability.
Focusing on public service efficiency, Prime Minister Marape emphasised the government’s commitment to placing 80 per cent of public servants in rural areas and only 20 per cent in Port Moresby.
Discussing fiscal strategies, Prime Minister Marape noted the government’s efforts in restructuring the budget to navigate economic challenges.
“In 2019, when I took office, the economy was in decline,” he stated.
“When we took over in 2019, we restructured and then sailed straight into COVID-19. That saw us increase the deficit in 2020 to keep our head above water. We hope to have a balanced budget by 2027 and aim to eliminate our debts to sustainable levels in the 2030s.”
Prime Minister Marape highlighted the delivery of K101 billion in the 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 budgets, focusing on transformative projects like the flagship ‘Connect PNG.’ The government’s commitment to reconstructing foreign relations, preserving core values, and exploring untapped areas such as the ‘green economy’ was also emphasised.
Prime Minister Marape highlighted efforts to reclaim more from Papua New Guinea’s natural resources and attracting major investors, including leading miner Newmont, Australian telco Telstra, and Santos, among others.