16 Sep 2005

PNG celebrates 30 years of independence

2:13 pm on 16 September 2005

The Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has given an upbeat assessment of PNG's ability to reduce its aid dependency in a speech marking 30 years of independence.

Speaking at a dawn flag-raising ceremony at parliament house, Sir Michael said PNG was making good economic progress and could realistically expect to begin reducing its reliance on funding from donor countries.

Sir Michael, who led PNG into independence in 1975, conceded that PNG could be further ahead in terms of development but progress was being made.

He says PNG has experienced two consecutive years of surpluses and could find money internally to fund some of the infrastructure development projects.

In Port Moresby last night, the independence anniversary was celebrated with fireworks and a state banquet.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands government has assured Papua New Guinea of its commitment to maintain and foster the current close political, trade and cultural links.

The acting prime minister, Snyder Rini, gave the assurance to mark PNG's independence anniversary.

Mr Rini also sent a congratulatory independence message to the Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to Solomon Islands.