MANY challenges were overcome in the 40 years since Papua New Guinea achieved independence, and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has encouraged citizens to work together to meet them.

In his address following an Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony, Mr O’Neill called on PNG citizens to face up to global challenges with “courage and determination.”

“The global economy is facing a very uncertain time at the moment,” he said.

“Unstable commodity prices are placing pressure on many economies and reducing economic growth all around the world.”

However, he pointed to Papua New Guinea’s positive growth forecast in gross domestic product – to 11 per cent this year.

“What this means for our people is that we will see through this challenge in the coming years and our country can grow even stronger.”

For this to occur, Mr O’Neill encouraged a spirit of entrepreneurship among Papua New Guineans – singling out the areas of medicine, tourism and new economy areas such as communications.

“But I also want to see the people of our country take greater control in developing our own resources,” he said, encouraging investment from the private sector to see this happen.

“I would like to see more or our seafood and agriculture products processed in our country.

As a nation, we must be ambitious and bold when it comes to economic empowerment and improving quality of life for our people.”

This extended to the provision of better education, healthcare and other community services, he said, singling out the introduction of free school education as a milestone for the nation.

“Today 2 million of our children are in school at all levels of education. But we must build on this,” he said.

“The next steps include improving teacher training and teacher numbers.”

Mr O’Neill also signalled a commitment to the groups already operating in Papua New Guinea, saying the support PNG had received from international businesses showed their confidence in the economy.

“This will mean more Papua New Guineans are employed and (will) be in business,” he said.

“To the people who already own a business in our country and are already employing Papua New Guineans, we will continue to encourage you.”

“By making taxation simpler we will further stimulate the economy and create more jobs. We are doing more to make Papua New Guinea a great location for investment.”