Management key to natural gas revenue: former PNG PM

2011-5-23

A former prime minister of Papua New Guinea says the huge revenue from a major natural gas operation needs to be well managed if the country's people are to benefit.

Sir Rabbie Namaliu has told Pacific Beat the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project could ultimately make the country economically independent.

"We are going through a significant period of economic boom and one that is likely to be around for the next few years," he said.

"The key is management. How that is done by the government of the day is absolutely essential to ensuring that the country benefits.

That the people of this country see some tangible benefits from this development, particularly in areas like health and education, infrastructure: all of those things require a significant degree of resources to make sure that we make up for lost time, basically."

The PNG government is planning to create three sovereign wealth funds to save some revenue from the project for future generations.

Sir Rabbie says the funds could help to cushion the impact of PNG's increased wealth on interest rates and inflation.

"I think the government is on the right track... to make sure that we avoid what is often referred to as the 'Dutch disease', which has been demonstrated in some countries where [they] have gone through a similar period of growth. [If] you do not manage it well it could have enormous adverse economic consequences."

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