PNG govt accused of neglecting welfare of people for APEC

9:24 am on 22 August 2018

Social breakdown could come to a head in Papua New Guinea after it hosts APEC, an opposition MP says.

PNG is preparing to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit in November.

The government said the summit would present a remarkable marketing opportunity for PNG as an investment destination and a trade partner.

But the Madang Open MP, Bryan Kramer, accused the government of borrowing beyond its means to spend on infrastructure projects in Port Moresby while neglecting basic services around the country.

Bryan Kramer.

Bryan Kramer. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

"The reality is hospitals are running out of medicines. We've now got a polio outbreak. So it seems we're not focussing on our priorities and that is the welfare of the people," Mr Kramer said.

"If we continue to focus on infrastructure at the expense of people's welfare, then society as we know it will start to collapse and breakdown."

However, the Governor of PNG's National Capital Disrtict, Powes Parkop, said hosting APEC was a positive move for the country.

The governor of Papua New Guinea's National Capital District, Powes Parkop.

The governor of Papua New Guinea's National Capital District, Powes Parkop. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

Through economic opportunities, which the government claims APEC will open up for PNG, Mr Parkop believed Papua New Guineans could have more self-respect and belief in themselves.

"I think it's absolutely good for Port Moresby but also for Papua New Guinea. It gives us hope for the future because I think for a long time in PNG we came to a dead end, that people thought that this was the end of it. Nothing was going right," Mr Parkop said.

Creating more economic opportunity was a way to grow PNG's middle class, the governor said.

However, Mr Kramer said that spending beyond its means to host a big event had not helped PNG in the recent past, and with something as huge as APEC, he doubted it could be different.

"The PNG (hosting of the Pacific) Games never delivered much. We spent a billion kina on that. There were other major events: the World Under 20 soccer tournament, we spent a few hundred million on that. Again it delivered very little," Mr Kramer said.

"All these roads being built are buried in debt to the Chinese. They're delivering out these projects. They're all attached to loans that we have to pay off, and so most of these contracts are questionable by being inflated.

"These are the issues that we're going to have to face post-APEC, and it's not going to be easy."


APEC Haus Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

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