15 Jul 2009

PNG creates two new provinces in the Highlands

2:21 pm on 15 July 2009

The Papua New Guinea parliament has voted in favour of a plan to create two additional provinces in the Highlands within three years.

This follows pressure by the peoples of the Hela and Jiwaka regions to have their own separate provinces, with parliament approving the move with 83 votes to one.

The two new provinces will be carved out of the existing Southern Highlands Province and Western Highlands Province by 2012 in time for national elections.

The Southern Highlands Governor, Anderson Agiru, has told the newspaper, The National, that the decision was linked to the massive ExxonMobil-led Liquefied Natural Gas project.

He says the Hela people have repeatedly said 'No Hela, no gas'.

The gas project is touted to potentially double PNG's Gross Domestic Product while tripling the country's export revenues.