The country has seen a lot of school leavers and even graduates coming out of the education system each year, seeking some form of employment with most of them having to not secure any and this has placed a huge burden on the government over the years, but the government is not turning a blind eye to this.
One of the solutions put forth by the current government and even the past governments, was the creation of the downstream processing and the Special Economic Zones (SEZ), which in turn would generate jobs for thousands of Papua New Guineans, something that the Minister for International Trade and Investment Mr. Richard Maru, is adamant to see take place in the very near future.
In his speech at the recent Pacific Islands Investment Forum (PIIF) in Port Moresby, the minister said the country cannot over rely on the resource sector for job creation. Whilst it is great for cash flow, it is not good for a lot of employment creation.
“Unemployment is the most serious, most important challenge for governments,” said Minister Maru.
“The government led by our prime minister is very keen for us transitioning as an economy from the resource sector to the non- resource sector. We can’t live with the mistakes of the past.”
Maru explained that by focusing on non- resource sector, investments can flow into the sector which then would lead to opportunities for job creation, but in order for that to take place the money made from the resource sector must be used to create investment in the non- resource sector; therefore, the minister said it is important that the new resource projects come online soon.
“When I talk about non- resource sector, I’m talking about fisheries, I’m talking about forestry, tourism, I’m talking about the services sector, manufacturing, downstream processing.These are areas we must focus on.”
He said Papua New Guinea (PNG) must learn from countries like New Zealand, where agriculture and livestock continue to be the focus which has created employment and brought in a lot of income for the country.
Other countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia also transitioned to becoming big economies in the world through downstream processing and into manufacturing.
He said by investing in the development of the non- resource sector and the establishments of the SEZs, will result in more employment opportunities created for the people and solve the problem of the high rate of unemployment.
“Our biggest national challenge is unemployment and we see economic zones as a vehicle that will help us create the jobs that we need to create and stimulate sustainable economic growth for a very, very long time,” said the minister.