Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape says it is important to strengthen the economic relations between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, explaining that “koble is king”.

He said that while welcoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Port Moresby Wednesday.

Marape told Widodo that PNG had more than 800 languages, and “koble” was a Chimbu term for “money”.

He said that without a strong economy, a country would always be dependent.

“Without money we cannot build roads, without money we cannot build infrastructures, without money we cannot develop our country.

“And that is why we need to break down barriers and boundaries and respect each other’s sovereignty.

“We need to strengthen not only our bilateral relationship, but our economic relationships too,” he said.

Marape said Widodo’s visit was a significant milestone for the country.

“We are honoured because Indonesia is not just a bilateral partner, we share the same border, the same mountains, the same seas, and we must work together towards securing both our people’s future.”

Marape said the bilateral meeting held yesterday morning was one of the warmest meetings he has had since becoming Prime Minister.

The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Education and held a first ever Indo-PNG inaugural business conference and also launched the Citilink’s direct flight from Port Moresby to Bali to increase economic and business partnerships between the two countries.

Marape explained that Widodo has pledged his government’s support to open doors not only to their markets but to help build our capacity too.
“The Indonesian government is offering scholarships, for every two scholarships they give, PNG will offer one, not only for tertiary institution and universities but for technical colleges too,” he said.

Marape said that he was no prophet but Indonesia who ranked as the 17th strongest economy on a global scale, would become top five in the next 20 years.

Widodo said PNG was a close friend to Indonesia, “and we hope to extend that friendship into economic partnership as well”.

He said Indonesia hopes to strengthen the economic and business relationship between the two countries with the launch of the Citilink direct flights.

“Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are two powerhouses, Papua New Guinea in the Pacific and Indonesia in the South East Asia.”

He said both countries will continue to have discussions on building an Indo-PNG trade agreement as the two countries share a border of 800km which has a very high potential of making money and we must also maximise on this.

Widodo said the Indonesia government would also support the Connect PNG project and in education, through scholarships for PNG students to study in Indonesia.