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Lower economic growth forecast for PNG

Economic growth in Papua New Guinea’s non-resources sectors is forecast to reach 1.6% this year, experts have warned.

The Asian Development Bank says activity outside of mining and petroleum is expected to continue to slow, creating challenges for formal sector job opportunities.

While growth in the LNG sector is expected to hit a record 20% next year due to the PNG LNG project coming online, the ADB’s Pacific Economic Monitor total growth across all sectors is expected to be 6%.

PNG economist Aaron Batten said economic activity outside of mining and petroleum was expected to continue to slow.

“We forecast overall growth in the non-mining sectors of just 1.6% this year,” Batten told Radio Australia.

“And this represents a significant easing from the highs recorded over the last three or four years and will create challenges for further expanding formal sector job opportunities, in particular.

“Papua New Guinea has certainly made some very significant progress in creating more formal sector job opportunities over the last decade.

“The estimates that we’ve undertaken show that the number of formal sector jobs in the economy has effectively doubled between 2002 [and] 2013, on the back of what was very solid growth in non-mining sectors of the economy.”

Batten said a defining feature of job growth had been the diversity of employment-generating sectors to include agriculture, manufacturing, building, construction, transport and trade.

“But at the same time, we also need to be mindful of the fact that less than 10% of the PNG population are able to access formal sector job opportunities,” he added.

“So the point that we highlight within the Pacific Economic Monitor is that a much larger focus needs to be placed on helping those in the informal sector of the PNG economy translate into formal sector jobs.”

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