13 Jul 2004

Report says communal land bar to economic growth in PNG

10:17 am on 13 July 2004

An Australian think tank says Papua New Guinea could benefit enormously from its nearness to Asia if it did away with communally owned land.

The Centre for Independent Studies, in a report titled 'Can Papua New Guinea Come Back from the Brink?' says its economy needs to grow by seven percent a year or it will become dysfunctional.

Author, Professor Helen Hughes from the Australian National University says it could achieve this through labour intensive industries such as agriculture, but she says there are no successful rural economies where land's communally owned.

She says the fastest growing agricultural product in Asia is palm oil - for which PNG is ideally suited.

"It's a low wage product, but the estate portion of the palm oil industry in Papua New Guinea can't grow because they can't get hold of land."