As the Opposition Planning spokesman and former Minister for National Planning & Monitoring, I’m deeply concerned about the Government’s failure to fund the construction of the new Wewak and Vanimo International wharves which are critical for PNG to develop trade with Indonesia. The building of these two wharves were given the highest priority in the Medium Term Development Plan III.
Indonesia has the potential to become PNG’s largest trading partner as it is the 7th biggest economy in the world, with a GDP of 1.1 trillion US Dollars, and an economic growth rate of 5.2% per annum. It has a population of 270 million people – the 4th highest in the world.
Indonesia is a trillion-dollar economy transitioning from the primary sector to secondary and tertiary industries in manufacturing, trade and services. In fact, manufacturing has surpassed agriculture in terms of GDP contribution. It has a young and growing population that must be fed.
This presents the greatest opportunity for PNG to develop the Sepik Plains into the region’s food bowl and export food into the Indonesian market. These includes food like cattle, dairy, rice, chicken, eggs and other cash crops like vanilla, cocoa and palm oil.
Without these two international wharves, PNG cannot develop its vast trade potential with Indonesia. Indonesia also has large high quality and cheaper goods to trade with PNG. Australia has recently finalized a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Indonesia after over 10 years of negotiations. Whilst PNG, with a land border with Indonesia, is sitting idle with its eyes closed.
The O’Neill-Abel Government in the formulation of the MTDP III has identified these two wharves as critical and high priority enabling infrastructure. It provided K15 Million each in the 2018 Development Budget and successfully completed both the technical feasibility studies and financial viability studies. These studies have shown that both wharves are economically viable projects.
Since the change of Government over 17 months ago, no further work has been done to secure funding to build these two wharves and commence discussions with Indonesia on a possible FTA. The sheer incompetence of the Marape Government cannot be left unchallenged.
I call on the Prime Minister to inform this nation what his commitment is in building the economic and trading capacities of PNG to trade with Indonesia. What is the Prime Minister and his Government doing to find the necessary funding to complete the Wewak and Vanimo international wharves so our vast agriculture economic potential and trade with Indonesia can be unlocked and realized.