APEC summit will not transform PNG as supporters claim

Jessica Mesa and her child, Heisi, critically ill with complications from TB. Photo: Benedict Moran   

Hosting the 2018 APEC Summit in Port Moresby will not boost Papua New Guinea’s development and will in fact lead to the deaths of many more people than it will assist, says community advocacy group, ACT NOW!

“The government is wasting K800 million of our money on the summit while people are dying every day from preventable diseases like TB and malaria. Mothers are dying in childbirth because our whole rural health network has collapsed. These people could be saved if the government spent the money more wisely”, says Program Manager, Effrey Dademo. 

“A new international airport and more high-end hotel beds should not be the focus for our government. The claimed benefits to tourism in the future are just fanciful and will not save lives.”

“It is a criminal waste of money”, says Ms Dademo. 

Making things even worse, says ACT NOW!, the foreign politicians and business people our leaders will be fawning all over during the summit will be mainly interested in extracting our natural resources to grow their own economies, not investing in our people and rural communities.

“Just last week, academic research was published from the Australian National University showing people in Hela Province are worse off now than they were before the huge Exxon-Mobil LNG Project. And we have all seen how years of economic growth, large-scale mining and export logging have not improved the lives of the majority of our people”, says Ms Dademo.

ACT NOW! says PNG should wake up to the fact APEC is not about people or our development as a nation. 

“The nation of Papua New Guinea is not even a member of APEC. It is our economy that is a member of APEC. APEC is a business club dedicated to global economic growth and that is very different from meaningful development for local people”, says Ms Dademo.

ACT NOW! says while the summit might be giving a short-term boost to the hotel and construction industries in Port Moresby - those industries are mainly owned by foreigners or our own political elite. They are the ones who will profit and they are the ones who are boldly trumpeting the summit - which is a massive conflict of interest.

“The supposed benefits that will come from tourism are pure fantasy. Tourists will not come in large numbers to see APEC Haus when hotel beds are so expensive and it is unsafe to walk the streets because people have to steal to survive. Already we are seeing APEC fuelling corruption with dodgy land deals in Madang and Port Moresby, corruption that drives potential tourists away.”