22 Aug 2003

PNG aid debate continues

5:17 pm on 22 August 2003

A former Papua New Guinea deputy prime minister, Akoka Doi, has joined government criticism of aspects of Australia's development assistance, describing it as boomerang aid for the benefit of Australian businesses.

Mr Doi's comments come amid a debate over the announcement by Australia to review its aid to PNG which is Australia's main recipient as its gets 200 million US dollars a year.

The prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has challenged Australia to remove the aid if it is unhappy about granting it.

The opposition leader, Sir Mekere Morauta, has described the comment as childish, saying Sir Michael should know he is running a country and not a family business.

Mr Doi has told the National newspaper that aid should be done away with to build a balanced trade instead.

He says if Australia is genuine about wanting to help PNG it would buy its gas, open its markets for PNG agricultural products as well as fisheries and forestry.

Mr Doi says since the launch of budgetary support tied programs, there has been change to promote Australian businesses at the expense of PNG agriculture.