O’Neill Opens Up About Asylum Deal Aid Packages For PNG

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O’Neill Opens Up About Asylum Deal Aid Packages For PNG Millions to be spent upgrading national infrastructure

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 31, 2013) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday revealed the rationale and some of the financial packages accompanying the asylum seekers resettlement deal signed on July 19.

The financial packages include a K740 million (AU$320 million, or US$291.2 million) rebuilding of Angau Memorial Hospital, a K500 million [US$214 million] rebuilding of tertiary educational infrastructure around the country, K300 million [US$128.4 million] upgrade of the Ramu highway and K100 million [US$42.8 million] for a separate district court complex.

He told academics, students and members of the public at the University of PNG’s lecture theatre that some of the projects would be funded jointly, while others would be funded out of Australia’s aid program.

He said had signed the deal also because Australia has always been there in difficult times for PNG and it was time to return the favor, that it was time to shoulder more responsibilities in the region and to address the long term problem of human smuggling which he predicted would increase unless tackled early.

But education was, as expected, the main thrust of his address on the theme "Investment in Higher Education, key to our future" to open the Vice Chancellor’s public lecture series which will run during this academic year at UPNG.

O’Neill said the Government’s plan was to reform university facilities and capacities to cater for the increase in demand for tertiary education each year.

He said the amount would be provided every year for five years.

"The incentive is above the normal budgetary allocations to tertiary institutions each year. It will be supported by funding from the Australian government as agreed to under the asylum seeker deal signed recently.

"There is a huge investment program, especially for the universities in the country," O’Neill said. "And that is why our government is deliberately working with development partners to have the important facilities. And I think we have to start building those facilities now and not later."

He also spoke on several national issues such as the asylum seeker deal, the proposed amendment to the Constitution and the death penalty.

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