SYDNEY (Xinhua) – The Australian government has declined a request from Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape, to financially assist the South Pacific nation through “direct budget support”.
Reported by the Post Courier Newspaper on Tuesday, Marape said Australia was giving over 600 million Australian dollars (405 million US dollars) in a headline figure in terms of aid every year.
“If half or a quarter of that comes into budget support, even better for us. And anything left over from budget support can be geared towards plans that we have identified as a country. I will be accountable for every dollar Australia gives.”
With a contingent of 10 Australian senior parliamentarians traveling to Port Moresby this week for the 27th Papua New Guinea-Australia Ministerial Forum, a joint communique from the meeting reiterated that Australia would not consider redirecting any aid money to PNG’s budget.
“Ministers noted Papua New Guinea’s request to realign development cooperation towards budget support and noted that this was not under consideration by Australia at this time,” the communique said. After today’s meeting, however, Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Australia may look at other options such as a soft loan.
“We will now ask our officials to go through the technical work to properly define options,” he told reporters.