14 Aug 2006

Rapidly growing Papua New Guinea population strains country's finances

10:19 am on 14 August 2006

Papua New Guinea's Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the government should be looking at how it can cope financially with an increasing population.

Last week, the Agriculture Minister warned that the country's food supply is under threat from a fast growing population.

He says the population is growing at a rate of 3.1 per cent while food production was growing at one per cent per annum.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce, Michael Mayberry, says since independence in 1975 the population has doubled while its economic activity has been in negative mode for years.

And, he says the country does not have the income or the tax base that can afford to pay for education and health.

"We acknowledge that there are issues such of corruption and misallocation of resources the far greater problem is this population increase and the ability of the country to fund that."

In 2003, the population of Papua New Guinea was estimated to be 5.5 million.