PNG's economic growth struggles to reach those who need it
United Nations says Papua New Guinea's strong economic is not enough if it doesn't translate into the country's human development.
Despite one of the largest economic growth rates in the world due to its resource wealth, the United Nations says Papua New Guinea will not meet any of the Millennium Development Goals.
Why the wealth from the country's extractive industries has failed to translate to better human development was discussed at a conference.
The conference brought together experts and researchers, industry, civil society and government stakeholders to debate a future plan on how to overcome this.
An official with the United Nations Development Programme in PNG, Jorg Schimmel, spoke to Indira Moala.
JORG SCHIMMEL: Things that were highlighted in the conference last week such as data collection and proper data analysis to really see where are the budget allocations are going, to what extent are they really reaching the poorest of the poor and to what extent development interventions are effective and actually changing people's lives. So there needs to be additional measures in place to actually make this translation happen.
INDIRA MOALA: As part of those measures, the government last year launched the National Strategy for responsible sustainable development. What kind of strategies do they have in place to deal with this issue?
JS: Well in fact, it really looks at a paradigm shift and it's very much in line with the Human Development Report. And the strategy basically says that we need to look beyond the economic growth figures. What implications, positive and negative, does growth really have? And it does have of course positive implications if the wealth trickles down, if income is generated for the ordinary citizen. Overall the economic growth has been very strong and yet the millennium development goals will not be met. And of course, there are some concerning figures such as 25 percent of children are not attending school. You know almost 40 percent of the country's population lives on $1 a day. So those are concerning facts given that the economic growth is in fact there and provides a very strong basis to lift this country out of poverty and out of those difficult situations.
IM: The report called for more prudent management of the extractive wealth to ensure more improved human development. When we talk about more prudent management, do you think corruption may have been an issue as to why resource wealth isn't translating to the benefit of the people?
JS: I would say that it has been one out of many issues and this was in fact confirmed by the Minister of Planning at last week's conference as well. Corruption is definitely an issue in that regard but there are also very tremendous steps to actually address those issues. Papua New Guinea has joined the EITI - The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and is looking into additional steps to increase transparency and accountability of public financial management at both the National and Provincial level.
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