Highlighting his country’s most recent achievements at the General Assembly, Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, today expressed his country’s thanks for the roles played by the United Nations and others in providing support.
“Papua New Guinea continues to benefit from a strong UN presence through its delivery of various development programmes, which we highly value,” Mr. Pato told delegates gathered at the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York.
Referring to the UN ‘Delivering as One’ initiative, he said: “This is working exceptionally well for Papua New Guinea.” The initiative arose due to concerns that the UN system has suffered in the past from fragmentation in policy development and implementation, and differing management structures, among other issues. It aims to improve the quality of UN programme and operational support.
Mr. Pato also thanked the UN for having “heeded our call” to use his country’s medium-term development plan to “synergize” the world body’s development efforts contained in its Development Assistance Framework 2012-2015. “We can all do more together,” he said.
In welcoming the UN for its “proactive engagement” in the Pacific region, Mr. Pato also thanked the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, for his “visit and commitment.” He added, “We are encouraged that contacts with the UN system and personnel are to be strengthened in the years ahead.”
With the help of the United Nations and others, as well as Papua New Guinea’s political stability and sound macroeconomic decision-making, the country’s economy is enjoying an eight per cent annual growth rate, Mr. Pato noted. He said revenue from a liquid natural gas (LNG) project will further increase growth – and could enable Papua New Guinea to help others.
“A sovereign wealth fund is being set up to professionally manage the revenue from the LNG project and other extractive industries,” he explained. “We also hope to share this wealth with our Pacific neighbours in the appropriate manner.”
Mr. Pato said the strengthened economy would enable his country to improve its social indicators, such as literacy levels, maternal and infant mortality rates, and law and order enforcement.
But, he noted, challenges remain for Papua New Guinea to achieve by the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their 2015 deadline. Agreed on by world leaders at the UN Millennium summit in 2000, the MDGs seek to slash extreme poverty and hunger, infant and maternal mortality, a host of diseases and lack of access to health services and education. But many countries are lagging way behind schedule.
“We recommit ourselves to work with our international partners, including the UN, and we reiterate that the MDGs need to be the priority while we discuss the (succeeding) Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Pato said.
In his remarks to the Assembly, Mr. Pato also spoke of his country’s commitment to “gender empowerment and equality,” saying that women and girls were increasingly present in higher education and employment outside the home.
Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Pato is among scores of heads of state and government, and other high-level officials, who are presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.