Borrowing for Progress
Highway redeveloped at K145m and renamed Sir Reuben Taureka
BY TONY SII
The Government will continue to borrow and invest in infrastructure despite “negative criticisms” on more international borrowings, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday.
Mr O’Neill said this during the opening of the redeveloped Six-Mile to Bautama section of the Magi Highway from Moresby South to Central Province which he renamed Sir Reuben Taureka Highway.
This 12km stretch cost more than K145 million to build.
“When you make such a negative criticism that is not constructive, then all you simply do is make me more stubborn. That means I’m on the right path, so I will build more roads, schools, hospitals, airports, and infrastructure for our people,” the prime minster said.
“We are borrowing more money because we are able to repay that money; we have never defaulted on all our loans all this time since independence in 1975. Our economy has almost doubled over the last five years, meaning that we have the capacity to repay those loans.”
Mr O’Neill said bankers would not lend PNG money if PNG did not have the ability to repay the loan – “that is common sense, not only for government but businesses as well as. That’s why Papua New Guineans must not be afraid of this issue about loans,” he added.
He said 99 percent of the countries in the world borrow money to build infrastructure to grow the economy and develop their country, and Papua New Guinea was no exception.
“They don’t do it any other way if there is any other solutions, believe me I would have already found out. I’m not blind, I am not stupid. I know exactly what I am doing, and that is why we are continuing to build infrastructure to serve you,” Mr O’Neill said.
“The construction industry employs thousands of Papua New Guineans, that is why we must put more money into construction, not only in Port Moresby but right throughout the country.
“We know that Highlands and some of our national highways are big problems. Two weeks ago our government gave a contract to Dekenai Constriction to maintain the road from Laloki Bridge to Kerema.
“Today you can ride from Port Moresby to Kerema on a sealed road, but potholes are still there.
“We want zero potholes on all these highways throughout the country. That’s the beginning that we have partnered with World Bank to do so,” he said.
Prime Minister O’Neill said his government had delivered a lot in terms of infrastructure and basic services in the past five years, compared to previous governments.
“In the last government between 1999 and 2011 when the country had so many trust accounts and so many billions of kina sitting in these accounts, what did they build?
“These same people want to lead your country; you ask them what they have built. They have built nothing, zero; not one road, bridge, school, hospital.”