Jan 21, 2020 Last Updated 9:56 PM, Jan 16, 2020

Papua New Guinea has been advised to tweak its macroeconomic policy and throw more weight behind agriculture, as it has the potential to enable more diversified and inclusive development.  

The World Bank makes this recommendation  in its latest newsletter Pacific Possible. It warns of rising economic uncertainty and fragile growth in PNG and recommends that authorities focus on structural transformation of the economy, especially in the agriculture sector, to help absorb any shocks.  

"Around 87 per cent of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas, and 75 per cent of these are engaged in a variety of subsistence and cash income agriculture activities. Staple products are the main source of subsistence, provide food energy and protein, and are a source of food security for rural villagers when income-earning opportunities are limited," the reports states.

"While most rural villagers combine these traditional subsistence and cash income activities, there is a small but increasing number producing value-added products such as high-value coconut products and spices."

Agriculture is one of the priority sectors in the government’s Medium-Term Development Plan for 2018–22 (MTDP III.

"To utilise the potential of agriculture as a source of income and job creation, the authorities should consider a proposed set of policy options and responses for securing sustainable rural livelihoods in food and agriculture," the World Bank says.

The resource-rich nation of over eight million people is home to a number of multi-billion dollar minerals projects and is vulnerable to substantial commodity price shocks, natural disasters and uncertainty in the performance of new and existing minerals projects. 

Its agricultural sector includes fresh food and export products like coffee, cocoa, palm oil, and copra and copra oil. 

As climate change pushes focus of countries to transition to a green economy, many countries in Asia and the Pacific will experience a surplus of low-level skills increasing by 2020, revealed a specialist in environment and decent work.

Christina Martinez, International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) specialist in an email interview told Islands Business magazine that more than eight in every ten workers in the region were in either low-skilled occupations (16 per cent) or medium skilled occupations (67 per cent).

She said a major challenge for greening labour markets and job creation was to make sure workers, especially youth, had the right skills. “Skills shortages already present a major hurdle for the just transition to environmental sustainability, particularly for certain sectors and occupations,” she said “Occupations such as wind, wave and tidal power; renewable energies for manufacturing, construction and installation; expansion of the environmental industries; and the green building and construction sector,” she said. She shared that skills shortages will continue to increase, “particularly for jobs requiring highly skilled workers.”

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The new titanic challenge

Whether you live in a developed country or a developing one, imagine yourself on the grand Titanic ship that sank in 1912. The ice-berg that sank Titanic now eerily appears to be an anecdote to climate change. In the end, it need not matter what class one took a seat in, when the ship sank, it took down nearly everyone – despite the class. In this regard, countries that have not contributed significantly but are severely affected by climate change may go down first, but gradually, so will countries that have emitted the most greenhouse gases.

The world of work is now quickly changing in light of increasing rate of natural disasters amplified by a changing climate. Countries all around the world are being pushed out of their comfort zones, forcing them to adapt and become resilient whilst going through this change A green just transition is high on priority for both developed and developing regions. However, while transitioning to a low-carbon economy make for a healthy, safer and even more resilient community, and can bring opportunities for the future of work, new challenges stand in the way.

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Fiji urged to reopen credit bureau

THE Fijian Government will need to improve its land lease processes if it has to create a business friendly environment for the private sector, says the International Monetary Fund. And the IMF projects that Fiji’s economy would grow by around 3.5 per cent in the coming year and would maintain that growth in the medium term.

Improving land lease processes is one of the few conditions the team from the IMF who were recently in Fiji suggested to government from their preliminary findings on their annual country surveillance.

Murphy said in order for the private sector to thrive which would in turn drive economic recovery, conditions must be put in place to improve the business environment. While Murphy and his team acknowledged the existing mechanisms to use land and several efforts by the Fiji Government to improve leases like the introduction of a land bank, they heard from the private sector that lease processes were lengthy and time consuming.

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ADB to loan Fiji $341.1m

Confidence in Fiji economy

THE Asian Development Bank has earmarked $341.1million in firm and tentative investments between 2018-2020. The ADBs country operations plan for Fiji 2018-2020 reveals this funding will be directed to three specific areas. Of the amount, $180million will be to facilitate private-sector-led growth - $50 million will be co-financed from the World Bank.

In 2019, the ADB will provide $111.1million towards an Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Investment Program. Co-financiers of this project will be the European Investment Bank, the Green Climate Fund, and the Fijian Government. By 2020, $50million will be allocated for a potential new transport (ports) infrastructure investment.

The ADB has confidence in the Fijian economy, according to the operations plan document. “Since 2014, total investment in Fiji has exceeded the government’s target of 25per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), largely driven by higher public expenditure to address infrastructure gaps, particularly in transport and water and sanitation,” says the ADB report.

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