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Barker: Government Must Implement Measures

Institute of National Affairs (INA) executive director Paul Barker said that the government must implement measures to provide jobs, boost the economy and improve revenue. This also includes paying off debt.

He also added that what is needed in this economy are some public sector reform and expenditure control, saying that the budget must zero in on priorities such as “genuine human resource development, through quality education and health services”.

“PNG’s population continues to grow at a relatively fast rate and 40 per cent of that population is below 15 years of age, eagerly seeking quality education and jobs,” Barker said. “The formal job market remains very small – at around half a million. But these jobs play a critical part in the economy, sustaining households and often many relatives, as well as paying a large slice of the total tax bill.”

He added, “Boosting formal sector employment is critical, as well as boosting opportunities in the larger informal economy, which provides most of the agricultural export earnings and food for the domestic market. Succeeding in launching some of the major resource projects in a short time period will provide a valuable stimulus and boost to wider economic confidence. What will be critical will be providing greater assurance to domestic and foreign direct investors that there will be welcoming and particularly stable investment conditions. So, while it’s important to ensure fair benefit-sharing from new resource projects, between the Government, investors and local interests and needs to quickly restore existing projects such as Porgera. Longer-term and broader-based investment requires confidence that the investor can make a profit, and potentially remit that profit, that the exchange rate is at the market level, that basic infrastructure will be restored and maintained.”

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