27 Aug 2003

PNG Foreign Minister welcomes debate over aid as healthy

4:03 pm on 27 August 2003

Papua New Guinea's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, says a robust and frank debate on Australia aid to PNG is a healthy trend, and a sign of a mature, open relationship.

A deepening row has emerged after Australia last month announced it intended to review its annual 200 million US dollar aid to PNG amid governance concerns.

Sir Rabbie says both PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and the Planning minister Sinai Brown had every right to raise issues about Australia's intention to review the aid.

Sir Rabbie says while Australia might have aspects of the aid agreement it wants examined, PNG had its own concerns as well.

He says at present Australian aid is spread among a number of sectors, and dozens of projects, and it's open for debate whether aid might not be more effective if it's targeted to a smaller number of priority areas agreed on by both governments.