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.
By World Bank Civil society is critical to ensuring community concerns over multilateral bank projects are heard, says the Chair of the World Bank Inspection Panel, Imrana Jalal. Speaking at a seminar in Suva this morning, Jalal stressed the importance of multilateral banks being accountable to the communities they serve. The World Bank’s Inspection Panel ensures projects comply with the Bank’s own policies and procedures. It is independent from the World Bank's management, and reports directly to the Bank’s Board. Jalal, who is a Fijian lawyer and human rights and gender advocate, was appointed as Chair of the Panel last year. The World Bank has recently ramped up its presence in the Pacific with a new office in Suva, which serves as a regional hub for it's work across the region.
The new regional hub will be integral to the World Bank Group's delivery of more than F$1 billion (US$470 million) worth of projects across six countries (Fiji, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu) in a wide range of sectors. The World Bank’s support to the region has tripled since 2016. Jalal said that the projects multilaterial banks finance must comply with the institution’s environmental and social policies. If not, residents who believe they are being harmed by a project have the right to file complaints with and seek redress from independent accountability mechanisms like the Inspection Panel. “Accountability is the cornerstone of good governance and it’s important that people are aware of these mechanisms and how they can access them,” she said. Today’s seminar is one of several outreach events the Inspection Panel takes part in each year.
Representatives from civil society, non-governmental organisations, development agencies and academic institutions attended today's event.