The Australian government will pay the school fees for all students attending primary schools throughout Papua New Guinea . Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this news during the third PNG-Australia Annual Leaders’ Dialogue held virtually on Wednesday. He said his government would provide $35 million in sector budget support to assist the PNG government’s tuition fee-free education subsidy for all students attending primary schools to ensuring around 1.1 million primary school students continue their education. Mr Morrison advised that this funding was in addition to more than $340 million in COVID-19-related assistance that Australia had delivered to support PNG’s response to the pandemic.
This support would complement the Marape government’s commitment to fully subsidise school fees for elementary to secondary schools and to relieve the parents after being economically affected by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The prime ministers also discussed Australia’s financial assistance to support PNG’s economic reforms and budget repair, and the suspension of PNG’s principal and interest repayments on a 2020 loan from Australia, consistent with the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. Mr Marape thanked the government and the people of Australia for their steadfast commitment to comprehensive COVID-19 vaccine supply for PNG, and delivery support. He also welcomed the confidence shown by Australian companies, including Santos, Fortescue Future Industries and Telstra, to invest in PNG despite global economic challenges. They recognised the close partnership Australia and PNG have built to meet infrastructure needs in PNG, including through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), he said. They warmly welcomed co-operation under the AIFFP to provide quality, climate-resilient ports infrastructure that will provide significant economic and social benefits to the people of PNG. They have also recognised the values of preserving PNG’s forests, including contributing to the global response to climate change, which poses especially serious challenges for the Pacific. They agreed that Australia would provide additional support to PNG’s forestry sector, including project support for nature-based climate solutions. The prime ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation on Building Capacity for Participation in Global Carbon Markets by Ministers at COP26 in Glasgow, establishing a partnership under the Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme. They also discussed Australia’s long-standing support for PNG’s national elections processes. They further discussed Australia and PNG’s swift deployments alongside Fiji and New Zealand at the request of the Solomon Islands government to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force in response to civil unrest.
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