Five questions for: Papua New Guinea’s Ambassador to APEC, Ivan Pomaleu

APEC’s 21 Leaders gather in Port Moresby next week, the culmination of 10 months of officials’ meetings. Papua New Guinea’s APEC Ambassador, Ivan Pomaleu, tells Business Advantage PNG that making APEC useful for the country will require a long-term commitment.

APEC Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): Are you on track to be ready for the Leaders’ Meeting in mid-November?

APEC Ambassador, Ivan Pomaleu (IP): We’ve finished all the lead-up officials’ meetings and the Finance Ministers have met in Port Moresby and so all the big ticket meetings in our hosting program are completed. So, we’re now in the process of finalising the two key statements: the APEC Ministers’ meetings Joint Statement and the Leaders’ Declaration. The final drafting of those statements will take place during the week of the Leaders’ meeting. Logistically, all the accommodation arrangements, meeting centres and security details are close to finality.

BAPNG: In what ways do you expect PNG to benefit from the entire series of meetings that have taken place over the last 10 months?

IP: This is a very important issue and a lot of our people don’t really realise how much work we have done over the last 10 months. You could answer this question by looking at the direct kina inflows as a result of adding up the individual spends for transport, accommodation, food, entertainment, souvenir shopping and come up with a figure. And that’s very valuable because it’s new money. But if you are looking for immediate gains, you might be disappointed. We need to continually remind ourselves that APEC is long-term.

When I took up the job as Ambassador, I thought about how we could leverage off this event through developing important infrastructure developments, and not just the APEC meetings. And Port Moresby has benefitted from a tremendous amount of work that has gone into building the city—roads, hotels, upgrades of facilities. But APEC is also about policy making that will give us benefits in the long-term policy constructs that aim at Best Practices.

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If we look at the Digital Future policy, for example, there are a number of issues, which we will need to consider: connectivity in the regions and creating opportunities for the disadvantaged and our young are just a few. I sat listening to the PNG Judiciary Services talk about how the judiciary has embraced digital technology in court services and I was quite blown away just thinking about the possibilities. If we can develop our ICT sector, there are enormous possibilities in health and education. I’m quite a fan of how we can employ technology to avoid any further disconnect between various parts of our population. Areas like library services in the bush and remote areas, for example.

BAPNG: Your pet subject before you became Ambassador—as head of the Investment Promotion Authority—was to make it easier to do business in PNG. Are you seeing that happen yet?

IP: I’m not sure that’s something you can easily observe. During the year, we certainly pushed the message and the year has been good because we’ve been able to say, look, globally this is what happens and what other countries are doing. I think the message has reached its intended audience but I hope the desired outcomes will become more obvious over time.

BAPNG: What has satisfied you most personally as a result of your role as Ambassador?

IP: I’ve been in government service for 28 years and one of the things I’ve observed over the last year is how our officials engaged in the program whether it is in policy, security or logistics that have grown individually and as a group. In the policy team that I lead, individual staff have grown in confidence. Their ability to articulate verbally and in writing at an international level has grown and the challenge after APEC will be to harness those talents, encourage them, keep them motivated to continue their work in developing plans at a practical level.

Comments

  1. Kila Sibolo says:

    I am impressed with the opportunity that this APEC meeting will provide to our economy. The challenge is whether the provinces have geared up to sell their province to the APEC Leaders and CEOs that are coming to attend this conference. We should encourage all provinces to have their impact projects profiled and promoted here so that CEOs and leaders from the APEC countries that are looking for opportunities to develop in this country could come and invest. I see this as the most important occasion that our country has waited since independence.

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