PNG needs to wean off reliance on minerals, says Micah

12:43 pm on 11 April 2017

A Papua New Guinea MP says the country needs a transformative type of government in order to fulfil its potential.

Papua New Guinea's parliament facade, after the removal of anthropomorphic carved heads from the front lintel.

Papua New Guinea's parliament facade, after the removal of anthropomorphic carved heads from the front lintel. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Ben Micah, the leader of the People's Progress Party, said that government had become too reliant on income from the non-renewable sector.

PNG's Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch, this month, warned that the government had spent beyond its means and had incurred a massive debt in recent years.

While PNG's revenues have collapsed partly due to the global commodity price slump, Mr Micah said government could no longer rely on collecting income from the extractives sector.

He said PNG government had not invested enough in agriculture; allowed the country's fishing industry to be controlled by foreigners, and has failed to tap into the country's tourism potential.

"We cannot compare to Fiji and Vanuatu and smaller countries like Samoa and Cook Islands because we have not properly developed realistic policies on how to develop our tourism industry," said Mr Micah, adding that PNG had massive tourism potential.

"We are the last frontier here in terms of the natural beauty of our country, our diverse traditions and culture."

He said, however, that in order for PNG to realise this potential, it could not persist with a business-as-usual approach.

Mr Micah added that PNG's government has been living beyond its means, and that spending had to be curtailed.

He said that if his party formed the next government, it would slash some public departments which merely duplicated functions of others.

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