Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says the people of Goilala in Central Province are “close to my heart”.
He said this when visiting the haus krai (mourning house) of 15 people killed in the recent landslide disaster at Saki Village in Goilala.
Nine bodies have been recovered so far.
Prime Minister Marape said he was very close to the Goilala people because Goilala MP and Transport Minister Hon. William Samb, and Central Governor Hon. Robert Agarobe, had been very instrumental in making him Prime Minister.
He urged the people to consider their safety when mining for gold in such areas like Saki and not cut down trees.
Prime Minister Marape presented K50,000 contribution from the Tari-Pori community in Port Moresby to the haus krai.
He said the Government would donate 100 bags of rice, 50 cartons of tinned fish, 50 cartons of tinned meat, and 100 cartons of fresh meat and chicken for the haus krai.
This is on top of what Minister Samb and Governor Agarobe have donated.
“Landslides are not confined to Goilala alone,” he said.
“A major landslide occurred at Hides Gas (in Hela Province) some years ago which buried 27 people.”
Prime Minister Marape said the bodies of nine people, out of 15 buried by the Goilala landslide, had been found and taken to their home villages for burial.
He said no one should be blamed for the landslide as it was a natural disaster.
On a brighter note, Prime Minister Marape urged school leavers in Goilala to take advantage of “second-chance education” offered by the Government.
He said the Government was also working with the Australian Government to give opportunities to school leavers to go to Australia for further training and work experience.
Prime Minister Marape urged the people of Goilala involved in small business activities like gold mining not to waste their money on alcohol.
“The money you spend on alcohol makes the people who produce alcohol become millionaires, while you will remain the same,” he said.
“I don’t want you to remain the same.
“I want your children to grow up to the next level.”
Prime Minister Marape said the Government’s credit facility for small business was open to everyone in Papua New Guinea, including rural areas like Goilala.
He said a classic example of a small business success story was Governor Agarobe, who from humble beginnings, became a very-successful PNG businessman.
Prime Minister Marape announced that the Government’s freight subsidy scheme would include Goilala so that their rural produce could be taken to urban markets.
He appealed to the Goilala people to improve their lives.
“I appeal once again to the people of Goilala, especially you young people, that alcohol is not the answer to your problems,” Prime Minister Marape said.
“I do not drink alcohol.
“Of course, you can drink once in a while, but drink sensibly and do not engage in binge drinking.
“Please save this money that you would otherwise spend on alcohol.
“I want to see millionaires coming out of Goilala, whether it be in alluvial gold mining, or other activities.”
Prime Minister Marape announced that the Government would be setting up a gold refinery to produce gold bars in the country.
He also announced that work was progressing on the road to Goilala from Port Moresby, as well as another from Bulolo, but added that this would take time because of the rugged terrain.
Prime Minister Marape said the Government was subsidising coffee prices to put money in the pockets of people in rural areas like Goilala.
Prime Minister Marape said his Pangu Pati was pushing for “economic independence”.
“Whether you find money in gold, timber, tourism, coffee or at markets, Papua New Guineans must be involved in all businesses,” he said.
“This is what we want.
“Our slogan is ‘Take Back PNG’ despite what our political opponents are saying.
“Take back PNG means that we must be in the driver’s seat of business opportunities.”