PORT MORESBY 22 MAY 2017 (THE NATIONAL) — Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill says the country’s population is growing at an alarming rate and the Government is finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

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“Having more than one million children every four years is unsustainable for any nation, especially a nation like ours where we have huge challenges – infrastructure needs, schools, hospitals, education, and roads and bridges that are needed right across the country,” he said at the government departmental heads’ meeting at Keapara in Rigo, Central on Friday.

 

“We will not be able to provide that if we continue to expand the population.”

 

Papua New Guinea’s population of nearly eight million people is the largest in the Pacific Islands, more than seven million to the next-in-line Fiji, with a population of just a little over 800,000. However, apart from Niue, PNG has the lowest population density figures in the Pacific of 16 people per square kilometres compared to 504 for the tiny island state of Nauru.

 

Papua New Guinea has a population growth rate of 2.1 per cent compared to 2.7 for Timor Leste and 1.3 for Australia.

 

O’Neill said young people should be discouraged from having children.

 

“I know it is hard to sometime stop these things that people enjoy, but you have to stop having children, you don’t necessarily have to have children while you’re having fun,” O’Neill said.

 

“We need to educate our children to delay having children, and of course, sometimes we have to encourage our young people to delay getting married.

 

“Why the rush?

 

“This is just increasing more and more burden to society.

 

“You see that the young couples who are getting married early most times have not secured decent employment, they have not finished university or tertiary education, they are not skilled, they do not have an income level to look after the child that they bring into this world.

 

“The burden is put on the parents like you and I.

 

“We then have an extended family in our house which has got two or three generations.

 

“All it does is that it keeps on putting stress on that family.

 

“It does not help anyone.

 

“That is why having fewer children, and delaying having children by our young, is very important. That is the message that we have to get out there, said PM O’Neill… PACNEWS [/restrict]