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By Ruth Waram Papua New Guinea Post-Courier

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 2, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---Pacific Islands government and business representatives are meeting to discuss how they can work together to improve economic growth in the region.

Opening a one-day workshop in Port Vila yesterday, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Noel Levi said the gathering was a first in the region.

Mr. Levi said: "This is a landmark gathering since, for the first time, we are bringing together public and private sector representatives from throughout the region to specifically discuss ways in which they can establish and maintain a more meaningful partnership.''

The workshop leads into this week's Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM).

Each country presented a report on the current cooperation between the government and the private sector in their respective country.

The consultation between the government and the private sector is one of the new initiatives that are being discussed during the economic ministers meeting.

The other is a stock take on how the member countries are implementing the ministerial decisions from these meetings.

Mr. Levi told workshop participants that Pacific Islands Forum members have diverse economic structures.

Some have minimal private sector activities.

In others, private sector led growth is recognized as the key to economic development and is a direct result of the government's proactive approach.

"The public and private sectors should obviously complement each other in the overall development effort of the region,'' Mr. Levi said. "It is sad but true that the desired partnership between the two sectors at the national level is not always in place.''

Mr. Levi said this could be attributed to several factors, including the different interests that the two groups have.

"The public sector is obligated to meet its social and development goals while profit making would continue to motive private entrepreneurs and businesses to make quality investments.

"We need to use this workshop as an opportunity to look past this and recognize the real benefits to all involved in strong partnership and the benefits this will generate for each of our countries and the region as a whole.''

Mr. Levi said an effective consultation is needed to help promote and sustain the partnership between the public and private sectors.

"It is widely recognized that the private sector is better suited and positioned for sustaining rapid growth than the government,'' Mr. Levi said.

"It would be erroneous to say that the government should never be involved at all in the development of the private sector.''

Mr. Levi said the government's key role is to set the right conditions for business and also create policy environments that promote private sector growth.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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