Social Concerns Notes – June 2017

Electoral corruption in PNG: caught between the law and a hard place

http://devpolicy.org/electoral-corruption-png-caught-law-hard-place-20170619/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4974601b56-ANUUPNG_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4974601b56-227683090 by Sam Koim, Grant Walton June 19, 2017
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is about to go to the polls. From 24 June 2017, voters will line up to choose MPs for 89 ‘Open’ and 22 Provincial electorates. If past elections are anything to go by, containing corruption will be a significant challenge. In the 2012 election there were widespread reports of bribery and fraud involving candidates, citizens and electoral officials. Electoral observers also found that bribery, fraud and ‘money politics’ were spreading from the highlands to the coastal regions.

There has been some progress around electoral corruption since the last national election. In October 2013, PNG’s Supreme Court found that all forms of exchange of goods and money by candidates during the election period amounts to illegal bribery. The ruling suggested such activities should occur prior to the election period. This stricter approach is beneficial, as it is designed to discourage candidates from participating in expensive customary obligations, and to mitigate voters being influenced by money politics.A potentially more potent law is Section 215 of the PNG Organic Law on National and Local Government Elections (OLNLGE). It vests in the National Court of PNG the authority to declare an election void if it finds that the candidate had committed or had attempted to commit bribery or undue influence to get elected. Such a finding by the court does not bar or prejudice a prosecution for bribery under the CCA.

Despite these legal instruments there is little to suggest corruption will be significantly contained in 2017. For a start the Electoral Commission is suffering from a lack of funds, as are the police. The ratio of citizens-to-police has significantly worsened– it is nearly four times worse now than during PNG’s independence in 1975. Sitting MPs have distributed their growing constituency funds over the past five years, which have been used to strengthen patronage among past and potential supporters. In many places, this is likely to increase expectations of largesse distributed during the election campaign. More importantly, there are few indications of significant shifts in the complex socio-cultural factors that drive corruption during elections. Research has found that citizens, particularly women, feel obliged to vote for local ‘big men’. Citizens also justify selling their vote due to material concerns, such as poverty and lack of state services.

Recently people have been getting around the Supreme Court’s ruling banning ‘money politics’ during campaigns by extending mourning periods (haus krai) for deaths, and scheduling compensation payments, bride prices, feasts and other festivities through the election period. Despite the ban, one of us (Sam) has observed political events that have continued through the official electoral campaign period. Given these factors it is unlikely that, in and of itself, a change of law will significantly reshape electoral practices – even though this is a step in the right direction.

Due to the inability of the PNG state to enforce its laws, many are rightly worried that this year’s election will see a rise in vote-buying, electoral engineering and other forms of corruption. For the doomsayers it’s worth remembering that PNG is one of the few developing countries that have not succumbed to military rule since independence. Democracy has been severely challenged but the country has not descended into dictatorship…

‘Corruption beyond remedy?’ Archbishop attacks deportation

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/corruption-beyond-remedy-prelate-attacks-missionary-deportation.html#more
AN expatriate lay missionary has had his entry permit revoked and was due to be deported from Papua New Guinea yesterday because of what the government alleges is a “blatant abuse” of his visa “by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”. Archbishop Panfilo said Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary from New Zealand and a former lecturer of law at UPNG, came to the East New Britain as a lay missionary with an entry permit as a ‘special exemption/religious worker’.“In the Archdiocese he serves as the Administrator,” Archbishop Panfilo wrote in a pastoral letter copied to prime minister Peter O’Neill. “The Archdiocese provides him with board and lodging and with an allowance. He is not paid an expatriate salary. “Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he works 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have.”

One of Mr Tennent’s many tasks – and the one that seems to have raised the ire of the PNG government – was to help achieve a broad consensus around landowner issues at the Sigite Mukus palm oil project in West Pomio. In his role as Administrator, Archbishop Panfilo said Mr Tennent was “tasked to carry out the decisions of the finance council and of the land board of the Archdiocese. He does not act on his own.” The Archbishop said the people of West Pomio had asked him “to speak up for them” and he had asked Mr Tennent to provide legal advice. He said he was “very grateful to Mr Tennent for his advice and concrete help.” Archbishop Panfilo said on Friday afternoon two officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr Tennent with a ‘Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit’ and a ‘Direction as to Custody and Removal Order’. Mr Tenent was told that he had to leave PNG by yesterday (Sunday) or he would be “subject to be detained and removed involuntarily”. There was no provision for appeal.

“What crime did Mr Tennent commit?” Archbishop Panfilo asked, adding that, in regard to land matters and in advocacy for the people of West Pomio, the person ultimately responsible is the Archbishop. “Consequently, if anybody needs to be deported for what we are doing, then it is the Archbishop,” Archbishop Panfilo said. “Does this mean that the level of corruption reached by the government is beyond remedy? The Archbishop concluded his letter by asking people to “pray that the upcoming national elections may give us leaders who are committed to the achievement of a just and peaceful society.”

PNG owes much to its missionaries (Mr Pato please take note) (by Daniel Kumbon)

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/png-owes-much-to-its-missionaries-mr-pato-please-take-note.html#more 17 June 2017
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato should be ashamed of himself if he gave the approval for lay missionary Douglas Tennent to be deported from Papua New Guinea. Missionaries appear to be his targets for deportation. There have been a number of other cases. The minister should know that Catholic and Lutheran missionaries were the first to bring essential services like health and education to his own Enga Province in the late 1940s. Foreign Minister Rimbink himself attended St Paul’s Lutheran High, the first to be established near his village in Wapenamanda by missionaries. The very first two Lutheran missionaries to set foot in Enga were Reverend Dr Otto Carl Hintze Jr and Rev Willard Burce who settled at Yaramanda near Rimbinks village. Dr Hintze, who died recently aged 93, had to beg Rimbink Pato from his wheelchair to reverse a decision he made to deport missionaries working in Enga Province. For those interested to read more about this saga, the book is available free online. It is also sold at the University of Papua New Guinea Bookshop in Port Moresby.

‘The hospital is out of everything’: PNG crippled by drug shortage

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/the-hospital-is-out-of-everything-png-crippled-by-drug-shortage.html#more | Radio New Zealand International. 20 June 2017
ON Tuesday night, an elderly woman went to Mt Hagen Hospital after she was slashed in the forehead, but doctors had no supplies or antibiotics to stitch and treat her wound. On the same night, doctors driven to desperation having run out of gauze resorted to using patients’ clothes to soak up blood and cover wounds. The dire situation at Papua New Guinea’s third-largest hospital is a scene playing out in hospitals around the country, where health centres have been crippled by a months-long drug shortage that doctors say has been in the making for years.

“The hospital is actually out of everything,” said David Vorst, deputy chief executive of Mt Hagen Hospital. “We’ve got doctors and nurses working very difficult circumstances delivering babies, for example, without any gloves to protect them.”
As the supplies that were left dwindled, the hospital was driven to seek unused supplies from remote clinics, aid posts and charities. As they ran out, funds were cobbled together to make up for the money the department wasn’t paying. But that could only last so long and last weekend, the shelves were bare. There were no antibiotics, bandages, IV lines, anything, said Mr Vorst.

On Wednesday, a meeting was held on the hospital’s forecourt, where an angry public was told the hospital had nothing available to treat patients at a time when the emergency department was faced with a surge in injuries from election-related violence. But the situation in Mt Hagen is not unique. The secretary of the PNG National Doctors Association, Sam Yockopua, said many hospitals around the country were struggling to stay afloat.

“About eight hospitals have actually shut down their doors or partly shut down for emergencies only,” he said. “At the trend at which we are going, by the end of this month 90 percent of the hospitals will shut down.”

The crisis in the country’s hospitals and health centres had been building for months, if not years, the doctors and administrators said. In PNG, drugs and supplies are procured centrally by the Department of Health, but many of the country’s hospitals have received nothing close to what is needed. Mr Vorst said Mt Hagen Hospital only received about 30% of the supplies it asked for each year, and of that, only about 10% of the quantity requested.

“Two months ago at a board meeting, the national Department of Health rep said ‘look, we’ve got K500,000 earmarked for you guys, just send us a list’,” said Mr Vorst. “We did – very, very quickly – and in return we got a box of abdominal swabs. That was it,” he said.
“Unfortunately the patients are the victims of this, rather than the beneficiaries,” said Mr Vorst.

The plight of Little People

WARIME GUTI | Translated by Keith Jackson
See original at http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/people-know-that-peter-oneill-his-ministers-do-not-tell-the-truth.html#more 21 June 2017
TODAY I went to the pharmacy to buy a GlucoMeter. The man ahead of me in the queue looked very ill and he had a note from the hospital nurse prescribing the medicine he must purchase. He gave the note to the cashier who looked at it and said the total cost would be K31 for Mala-Wan and Primaquine. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out K20, only enough to buy the Mala-Wan but he was short of the full amount of money.
I was greatly saddened by this. I looked right at the cashier and thought he must see plenty of sick people who have little money. The cashier was sorry for these people, but what could he do? It wasn’t his shop or a public hospital. The pharmacy was a business. I nodded my head and the cashier knew what I was thinking and gave the man the medicine which I was going to purchase for him. At the time I nodded my head I felt sorry for the cashier because he was finding it difficult to tell people who are short of money that they did not have enough to buy the medicine they need.
Papua New Guinea’s free health policy…. Whatever happened to it?

How long can the sick wait?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/how-long-can-the-sick-wait.html#more09 June 2017
TODAY at the clinic I was glad to have special attention. The doctor was very nice and we talked. I shared about what I witnessed in the clinics and health centres in the last four weeks in Port Moresby, Bereina, Kwikila and Hula.Patients were turned away or prescriptions written for them due to no medicine. I saw sick people in bed, some putting their hand out for ‘quinine’. I am lost for words when I visit one sick in Port Moresby. She is already tired of being sent to the pharmacy. Too weak to sit up she didn’t want to say any more.

The big question for me as I lay in bed trying to get well myself is how many people like my sisters in Baruni and Kamali in Rigo are giving up on life just because our health system continues to fail them – the sick. I think of the doctors and nurses who dig into their pockets so that the sick can have that prescribed medicine from the pharmacy. Bless their hearts. I think of the economic woes of this country and how the sick would choose food over medicine so that their families can have a meal.
How much longer can the sick wait? Think of the doctors and nurses who dig into their pockets so that the sick can have that prescribed medicine from the pharmacy. Bless their hearts. I think of the economic woes of this country and how the sick would choose food over medicine so that their families can have a meal.
How much longer can the sick wait?

Men of honour awards on again

June 5, 2017 The National
THE hunt is on again for Papua New Guinea’s most extraordinary men. Nominations are being sought from individuals and organisations for Digicel Foundation’s Men of Honour awards which reward ordinary men doing extraordinary things to contribute to reducing violence in their societies. Men of Honour patron, former MP Dame Carol Kidu, said the awards acknowledged the efforts of ordinary Papua New Guinea men who were recognised by their communities for making positive contributions that challenged the perception that all PNG men were violent.

“For too long the view has been that PNG is a violent country and seen as a dangerous place to live in because of the perception that all PNG men are dangerous, violent and repress their womenfolk. “But we all know that not all PNG men are violent because through our Men of Honour campaign we have met some amazing men with incredible stories who are making huge impacts in the communities they are operating in,” Dame Carol said. There are seven categories for the Men of Honour awards and the nomination forms are available at the Digicel Foundation office and Digicel retail shops nationwide. Nominations close on Oct 31.

Bougainville president lays down law for his public officials

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/bougainville-president-lays-down-law-for-his-public-officials.html#more08 June 2017
BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis says his government is encouraging a culture of accountability from ministers and parliamentarians down through the public service. “We must develop a culture that promotes excellence, rewards success and penalises those who do the wrong thing,” Dr Momis said. “I can no longer tolerate stories of corruption and fraud and I intend to take action to convene an inquiry to investigate the many allegations that have been raised.” The president also made it clear that people found to have done wrong, no matter how senior, will suffer the full weight of the law. “Enough is enough – things have to change,” he said. “If they do not, then we are destined for failure.”

PNG – Change Needed to Meet People’s Potential

http://www.pngblogs.com/2017/06/png-change-needed-to-meet-peoples.html?m=1
Friday, June 09, 2017
PNG politicians are failing their people. Their poor policies have led to dramatic declines in economic well-being – an extraordinary fall of over one-third since 1980. This is revealed by applying new numbers from the PNG National Statistics Office (NSO) and International Monetary Fund to PNG’s economic history. From 2012 to 2017, the average economic well-being for the people of PNG has declined by 2.8%. This reverses positive economic gains of 8.4% from 2000 to 2012. PNG is returning to the poor economic performance it experienced during the 1980s and especially the 1990s – lost decades for development. This is a shame. From 1980 to 2017, economic well-being in PNG per citizen declined by an extraordinary 40.4%. This is a development failure.

In contrast, the resource sector has grown strongly. It is now 48.1% larger per capita than in 1980. The resource sector boomed by 62% during the 1990s when the non-resource sector went backwards by 30.8%. From 2012 to 2017, once again the resource sector has boomed by 58.1% while the non-resource sector has gone backwards by 2.8%. PNG has a development model that looks after the resource sector, but not its people.

PNG’s greatest policy mistake since Independence has been too much focus on natural resources (such as LNG or gold) rather than its extraordinary people resources. …
[See the url above for the full version of this long but very interesting article]

Election 2017 – a time for people to lead and leaders to follow?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/election-2017-a-time-for-people-to-lead-and-leaders-to-follow.html#more14 June 2017
SOMETHING interesting happened this month when Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord. Americans across the USA came out in large numbers and reiterated and reinvigorated their commitment to fighting climate change.A similar thing has been happening in Australia. While prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will not countenance putting a price on carbon, and is only grudgingly supporting renewable energy, the Australian public and private sectors are enthusiastically embracing renewable technologies while abandoning coal fired energy options.

This ‘people’s resistance’ phenomenon may also have currency in Papua New Guinea, particularly in the current election. Many thinking Papua New Guineans are deeply worried that the corrupt and incompetent government of Peter O’Neill will be returned to power and there are clear signs that a capable resistance might be developing. I can’t recall when there has been so much public criticism of a sitting government in Papua New Guinea. Even in the dark days of the Skate government criticism was muted.

In the run up to this election, social media is alive with discontent and, even if the traditional media hasn’t picked up on what’s going on, people in the streets and villages are talking about it. They are in effect reacting against what they perceive as O’Neill’s ‘plan’ for the future – more corruption and more plunder.
Recent estimates reveal that nearly 950,000 Papua New Guineans use social media and that use is growing quickly. Nearly a million people is a fair slug of the voting public. No wonder O’Neill was trying to suppress it.

Day of judgement: PNG and the O’Neill Government

June 9, 2017 http://devpolicy.org/day-judgement-png-oneill-government-20170609/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=d1ae7ae58e-Devpolicy+News+June+16+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-d1ae7ae58e-227683090
Written by Bal Kama

Papua New Guinea enters its 2017 national election at the back of one of the most contentious periods of its democracy. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s reign began unexpectedly in August 2011 after the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was ousted by the PNG parliament following his long absence from the country due to illness.

The Supreme Court later reinstated Somare on 12 December 2011 only to be rejected by the O’Neill led parliament a few hours later, commencing a dark period of PNG’s democracy where the country appeared to have ‘two’ prime ministers for nearly seven months – O’Neill operated from the Parliament House and Somare from the Ela Beach Hotel. It was a period marked by a decline in public confidence in the judiciary, a divided police and armed forces and a perplexed public service.

The 2012 national election provided the ultimate showdown for the two warring factions. However, with an assurance to deliver the country from the misfortunes of Somare’s National Alliance government, O’Neill and his coalition partners found favour with the people. The 2011 constitutional impasse appeared to represent a change of the ‘old guard’ in PNG politics and an undesirable initiation for the new crop of leadership with Peter O’Neill hoisted to symbolise this transition.

Prime Minister O’Neill appeared at that time to represent the long awaited hope for the country. His government immediately appealed to the people through its flagship policies for free health and education services, and infrastructural development backed by a strong anti-corruption focus in the form of the Investigative Task Force Sweep (ITFS).

Projected revenues from the billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and other resource developments in the country provided the assurances that his welfare policies would be sustained and effectively delivered. On the anti-corruption front, O’Neill pledged to support the ITFS to systematically ‘weed out corruption’ in PNG.

What has happened since? [See the URL above for the remainder of this article]

Our corrosive culture of corruption – & how to start eliminating it

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/our-corrosive-culture-of-corruption-how-to-start-eliminating-it.html#more20 June 2017. By Kessy Sawang. The Papua New Guinea Woman. Extracts
Sir Mekere Morauta, our former prime minister, likened corruption to cancer, presumably the malignant type. Sam Koim, former head of Task Force Sweep, described the rising tide of corruption using the boiling frog tale – descriptive but a parable nonetheless as it is scientifically incorrect. These concerns seem apt when we consider the performance of the last term of parliament and the executive government. The last government swept into power on a wave of optimism and promises that it would tackle the problem of corruption and restore good governance.

The Alotau Accord captured the commitments made by O’Neill’s government to the people of PNG of the initiatives it would undertake. There were pledges to “continuing the fight against corruption by proper funding and institutionalisation of the inter-agency committee against corruption in particularly Task Force Sweep. Further, the government will introduce the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Bill” O’Neill failed to bring the bill to parliament.

Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. Corruption should not only be thought of wilful abuse but also if one is aware of it and does nothing to bring it to the attention of appropriate authorities then there is a crime of complicity. For instance, the Bank of PNG an independent institution by law has breached its mandate by expanding the money supply by funding the government budget by K1.8 billion in 2016 alone. Without this funding the government would have stopped functioning if it had failed to adjust the budget. The Bank of PNG shockingly paid a dividend of K102 million in 2014 when it was technically bankrupt, ….
[For the remainder of this article, see the url above]

Single-handedly Alfred Masul got conservation on the move

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/single-handedly-alfred-masul-got-conservation-on-the-move.html 15 June 2017
A MAN from the Ulingan-Malala area of Madang Province has been praised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a role model in the fight against the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.
Community leader and conservation advocate Alfred Masul was commended for using his own initiative to start conservation activities using local knowledge and without much assistance from others. WWF project officers learnt of Alfred’s activities as they were rolling out a project among Madang’s north coast communities. They noticed that Alfred was already rehabilitating his area which was destroyed by a tidal wave some years before. He had established nurseries and started conservation work. WWF assisted Alfred with equipment to continue his mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation work. WWF also used Alfred’s initiative to conduct training on mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation. It brought in members of communities from Malala and Ulingan for hands on training at Alfred’s project site. Alfred said he started the project in 2005 as a means to conserve natural resources when he understood the effects of climate change and population on natural resources. In 2007, when he realised the rising sea was encroaching on his land, he began mangrove rehabilitation and approached WWF to do a survey. He currently has 2,000 mangrove seedlings and has planted more than 500.

Alfred’s approach to conservation is holistic. He has planted native trees in the forest, planted mangroves and associated species at the mouth of the river and created taboo areas in the bay so fish are not disturbed and can spawn freely. As a result, fish numbers and species have increased. She said they would like to work with individuals who have passion,

Breakouts blamed on delayed cases

June 23, 2017 The National
AMONG the 58 who broke out of the Buimo Prison in Morobe last month were several inmates who had been remanded and awaiting trial for more than nine years. Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo said yesterday that some had been detained on “mere allegations” and have had their cases deferred. Such issues, he said, had led to overcrowding and outbreak of diseases had led to frustration and breakouts. Waipo was revealing findings of an investigation into the May 12 breakout during which 17 inmates were shot dead. He said a large number of them caught the warders off-guard and made a dash. “They dashed for freedom because their complaints that parole and licensed releases were not effective. “Some detainees have been spending more than nine years (behind bars) just waiting for their court cases. “Some remand detainees are held in custody based on mere allegations … with no evidence. Cases have been deferred to 2018 and 2019.”

Letter from Archbishop Panfilo regarding Deportation of Douglas Tennant

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On August 15, 2015 I issued Pastoral Letter 7 on how to respond in very practical ways to the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis “Laudato Sì” on the “Care of our Common Home”.

I wrote: “Convinced as we are that ‘the earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters’ (EG 183), we need to ask ourselves: how can we as Church, in very practical ways, care for our common home and be a Church that is poor and for the poor? … The Archdiocese of Rabaul is committed to the following:
1. Disposing of the land, especially of large plantations;
2. Starting a housing project for low income earners;
3. Helping achieve a broad consensus in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio”.

We committed ourselves to these very challenging goals not only in response to the call of Pope Francis and in fidelity to the Social Teaching of the Church, but also because the Archdiocese could avail itself of the services of Mr. Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary from New Zealand and a former lecturer of law at the UPNG.

As mentioned, Mr. Tennent came to the Archdiocese as a lay missionary with an Entry Permit “Special Exemption/Religious Worker”. In the Archdiocese he serves as the Administrator.

The Archdiocese provides him with board and lodging and with an allowance. He is not paid an expatriate salary. Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he works 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have.

On Friday, 9 June, in the afternoon two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr. Tennent with the “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”.

He was told that he no longer held a valid entry permit or visa to remain in the country lawfully and that he had to leave the country immediately. The document presented to him stated: “Should you fail to comply with this instruction you are subject to be detained and removed involuntarily”.

There was no previous notice, no chance to appeal since the notice was served on Friday afternoon and he would have to leave on Sunday, 11 June.

What crime did Mr. Tennent commit? The document served to him says: “The cancellation of your entry permit by the Minister is due to the blatant abuse of the conditions of your Special Exemption/Religious Worker visa by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”.

As mentioned, Mr. Tennent is a lay missionary and is not paid an expatriate salary.

In regards to our commitments to “Disposing of the land, especially of large plantations” and of “Starting a housing project for low income earners”, Mr. Tennent is tasked to carry out the decisions of the Finance Council and of the Land Board of the Archdiocese. He does not act on his own.

As for the involvement of the Archdiocese in “Helping achieve a broad consensus in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio”, Mr. Tennent provides legal advice to the Archbishop, who was asked by the people of West Pomio to speak up for them. This, the undersigned as done and is very grateful to Mr. Tennent for his advice and concrete help.

It should be very clear that in regard to land matters and in the advocacy for the people of West Pomio, the ultimate responsible is the Archbishop. Consequently, if anybody needs to be deported for what we are doing, then it is the Archbishop.

It is sad to realize that people who are hard working, dedicated and committed to serve the people of Papua New Guinea are treated in such a way.

Does this mean that the level of corruption reached by the Government is beyond remedy?

I would like to believe that there are still decent people in Government who are trying their best, just as we are trying our best to serve and care for those who do not have voice.

Let us pray that the upcoming National Elections may give us leaders who are committed to the achievement of a just and peaceful society.

+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

12 June, 2017
THE DEPORTATION OF MR. DOUGLAS TENNENT – from Archbishop Panfilo

Who is Mr. Douglas Tennent? He is well known in the country especially by many lawyers, having been a lecturer of law at UPNG for many years. He was also a lay missionary in the Archdiocese of Mount Hagen and in the diocese of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. He came to the Archdiocese of Rabaul at the beginning of 2014 as lay missionary. Since then he held the task of Administrator of the Archdiocese.

What is his greatest fault? Yes, he is very passionate about justice, about the Social Teaching of the Church to a fault. He will go out of his way to help the poor and the downtrodden. He has done this for 30 years. According to a prominent citizen of Papua New Guiinea “he should be given the right to a dual citizenship rather than being deported”.

On Friday, 9 June, in the afternoon two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr. Tennent with the “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”, which were signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Mr. Douglas Tennent was picked up from Vunapope at about 10:45 a.m., on Sunday, 11 June, 2017 and brought to Port Moresby. Until 12:00 noon today we could not make contact with him. We finally were able to talk to each when he was already at Jackson airport, waiting to depart for New Zealand.

What is his crime? We don’t know! We don’t know who lodged a complaint against him and what the accusations against him are. The only thing we know is what is written in the Notice of Cancellation of the Entry Permit, signed by the Acting Chief Migration Officer: “The cancellation of your entry permit by the Minister is due to the blatant abuse of the conditions of your Special Exemption/Religious Worker visa by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”.

What about his involvement in sensitive landowner issues?
• In regard to land issues, whether large plantations or the land in Kokopo, Mr. Doug Tennent was tasked to carry out the decisions of the Land Board of the Archdiocese. He did not act on his own.
• As for the involvement of the Archdiocese in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio, Mr. Tennent was providing legal advice to the Archbishop, who was asked by the people of West Pomio to speak up for them.

Did Mr. Tennent blatantly abuse the conditions of his Visa as Religious Worker? Absolutely not! As I wrote in my previous letter: “Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have”. He worked exclusively for the Archdiocese of Rabaul, which provided him with board and lodging and a monthly allowance. He did not receive an expatriate salary.

As mentioned, the cancellation of Mr. Doug’s entry permit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs was due to “the blatant abuse” of the conditions of his visa as Religious Worker. With due respect, the blatant abuse of power came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as from the Acting Chief Migration Officer.

In fact, since the entry permit of Mr. Tennent was for a period exceeding 6 months, the Minister abused his power by insisting on Mr. Tennent’s removal from Papua New Guinea, thereby denying the right to be present while his appeal, under section 6(2) of the Migration Act, was being heard and processed. In support of this view, the National Court at Kokopo, at about 11:00 a.m, Monday 12 June, 2017, issued orders staying the deportation order and prohibiting any airlines to transport Mr. Tennent. The document of the stay order was handed to the immigration officer in the International Airport at Port Moresby prior to the scheduled departure of Mr. Tennent.

Even though the undersigned is not a lawyer, it is very obvious that the purported notice of cancellation and order to leave the country is legally flawed in that the officers of immigration have exceeded their jurisdiction by denying Mr Tennent the right to be present while his appeal is heard or process..

Since the reasons given for the cancellation of Mr. Tennent’s entry permit appear to be vague generalities that do not warrant its cancellation, the Archdiocese of Rabaul has a right to know who lodged the complaints and the accusations against Mr. Tennent.

Any ordinary person knows that orders of this kind cannot be given unless there are powerful and wealthy institutions and personalities behind. For the sake of the ordinary and innocent people of PNG, we ask the Government to come clear once and for all.

In conclusion, I want to inform all seating candidates and aspiring candidates for National Elections that neither the Archdiocese of Rabaul or the Catholic Bishops’ Conference will take this matter lightly as it seems to imply that to work for justice is outside of a “Religious Worker” status.

Today’s Gospel reading tells us: “Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you” (Mt 5:10-12).

+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2017

Nun assists 87 detainees home

May 1, 2017 The National

A CATHOLIC nun has helped over 130 detained Vietnamese fishermen in a number of prisons in PNG to return home. Sister Ma Theresa Trinh Vu Phuong looked after the needs of those Vietnamese detainees and served as their interpreter and mediator in court.“She has been helping these Vietnamese fishermen to be freed and repatriated to their home country.” They have been detained in the prisons of Alotau, Giligili and Bomana for illegally fishing and harvesting beche-de-mer in Milne Bay. Sr Trinh communicates with their families back home and arranges for payment of their penalties and getting all the necessary documents and tickets for them to fly back home to Vietnam. “Sr Trinh successfully processed the repatriation of 87 Vietnamese fishermen and about 18 more will soon follow and all will soon be able to re-join their families back home, thanks to the courage of this sister and the support given by her Salesian community,” said Fr Ambrose. Sr Trinh is a Vietnamese Salesian Sister working in a girls’ skills training Institute in Sideia Island, diocese of Alotau in Milne Bay. The diocese is proud of her because her charity is truly heroic and worthy of emulation.
Bishop there, Rolando Santos, said the case of the Vietnamese fishermen was disturbing. “They (Vietnamese fishermen )are used by whoever employs them to fish illegally without a proper license or any guarantee of protection or security from their employers. “It is a serious abuse on the rights and dignity of these young men to be sent out by their recruiters to fish in illegal waters without a proper licence and without any guarantee of protection or security.“Once caught, they are almost totally forgotten and abandoned. “The rights of these young men need to be respected, and a better employment worthy of their dignity be afforded to them.”

Papua New Guinea gets a dose of the resource Curse.

https://theconversation.com/papua-new-guinea-gets-a-dose-of-the-resource-curse-as-exxonmobils-natural-gas-project-foments-unrest-70780

The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region. Constructed at a stated cost of US$19 billion, it’s operated by ExxonMobil in joint venture with Oil Search and four other partners.

Construction for the project began in 2010, and the first gas shipment was made in May 2014.

In February 2009, the economic consulting firm Acil Tasman (now Acil Allen) produced a report for ExxonMobil about the project’s impact. The report said the project has the potential to transform the country’s economy by boosting GDP and money from exports. These would increase government revenue and provide royalty payments to landowners. It claims the project could potentially improve the quality of life of locals by providing services and enhancing productivity. Workers and suppliers would reap rewards, as would landowners who would also benefit from social and economic infrastructure.

But six years on, none of this has come to pass.

In the years since construction began, Papua New Guinea’s ranking on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index has fallen by two places to 158, having been overtaken by Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Far from enhancing development indicators, the largest development project in PNG’s history has coincided with an unprecedented downgrade in the country’s development status.

Very little is known about the actual impact of the project on local landowners. This is largely due to the remote location of the gas field in the mountainous Hela Province. The dire security situation in that part of Papua New Guinea also makes any investigation a highly dangerous undertaking.

(for the rest of this lengthy article see the url above]

 

Manam evacuees receive aid

May 8, 2017 The National

RED Cross and World Vision are providing assistance to hundreds of people fleeing volcanic eruptions on the island of Manam. By last count, 887 people have left the island as lava continues to flow from the volcano after it erupted last month. “Available information indicated light ash fell in areas stretching between Warisi on the east, Dugulaba on the south and Boda and Baliab on the northwest parts of the island,” the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management said.
Madang disaster coordinator Rudolph Mongallee said everyone would be transported to the mainland.
“The islanders will be relocated at the Potsdam Care Centre at mainland Bogia,” Mongallee told The National on Friday. Ten families consisting of around 150 people had already been transported to the mainland. He said the Madang government and the National Disaster Centre were providing food to the islanders. “The Red Cross and World Vision are assisting us with canvas (tents), mosquito nets, blankets and cooking utensils,” Mongallee said.
Manam Restoration Authority caretaker Paul Akuram said volcanic lava was still flowing. “Dust has covered the whole island and destroyed gardens and properties so they need to be moved out,” Akuram said. In 2005, about  9000 people were evacuated, eventually to three principal “care centres”, because of volcanic eruptions. At the time, relocation on narrow strips of coastal land created conflicts with local people over the use of such resources as land for gardens, water, materials to build houses and access to marine resources.

 

Church Reps on Rededication. 

Post Courier 15 May

The Catholic agency of the Mt Hagen Arch Diocese has gathered its representatives from 190 catholic-run schools in Western Highlands Province and Jiwaka at Rabiamul parish to rededicate their duties to God. The representatives were principals, teachers in charge, chairpersons of board of management, members of the catholic education board, and subcommittee members of the catholic education board from Jiwaka and community leaders. His grace, Archbishop Douglas Young SVD gave three reasons for this gathering; dedicate everyone and their roles to God, clear the confusion of the agency and its practice and benefits in schools, and swearing in of new members of the catholic education board. Bishop Young said the aim is to create better sense of unity, commitment, purpose, identity and sense of family for our teachers in catholic schools from colleges to preschools. Young said many people still think that the agency means that the church is the agent for the government to do what the government tells them to do but that is not the case. “We provide education and the state likes the education that we provided so we become partners, many people in the department and teachers in catholic schools don’t understand the nature of partnership,” said Young.
Bougainville’s economic sector ‘failing miserably’, says Momis

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/bougainvilles-economic-sector-failing-miserably-says-momis.html#more   15 May

FISCAL self-reliance remains one of the foremost conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement as Bougainville prepares for the 2019 referendum on independence, says president John Momis.

Dr Momis called for stakeholders in the government’s economic sector and state owned enterprises to revitalise efforts to secure a viable economic climate in the autonomous province. “You must understand the level of my frustration when the very ministers and secretaries I expect to work with me and carry out the policy statements of the Bougainville Executive Council fail miserably,” Dr Momis said. “All known powers and functions have been drawn down but we have failed to understand this. We are an autonomous government and we should thoroughly understand this. “We have purposely created the Ministry of Economic Development on the premise that it would fast track economic projects and activities,” he said. “The Ministry will create favourable economic conditions that will jump-start economic activities that will transform to economic growth.

“This in turn will provide the basis for the ABG to promote fiscal self-reliance through our own taxes,” Dr Momis said. He said it was time for Bougainville to be realistic, learn to accept the realities and work for solutions and alternatives instead of dwelling on problems. He said that Bougainvilleans are aware that the ABG has been denied what is constitutionally and legally its rights on matters on national government funding. The government is working through diplomatic channels and, if necessary, the courts to demand what is due from the PNG government.

 

Mum Gives up Hope

Post Courier, May 17, 2017

SHE hears the planes arriving and departing from Tokua Airport every day bringing tourists and business opportunities to East New Britain and New Guinea Islands region. Many have experienced the luxury of using this modern mode of transport. But just across the Tokua runway, ten minutes drive into the peaceful community of Raiven within the Bitapaka LLG in Kokopo district, there is nothing to show for the much-talked about development and service delivery. Pauline Jeffery, 38, is a mother of nine children who goes through the normal struggles of a village mother who fends for her children. Mrs Jeffery goes out to fish and sells her fresh catch in Kokopo town at reasonable prices to feed her big family. A good catch will fetch between K200 and K300.  Recalling her early childhood, Mrs Jeffery said nothing has changed in the past 38 years. The road system needs major upgrading at certain areas which are always inaccessible during heavy rainfall. The entire community has given up hope in making a difference by voting this election, and it is not a concern if they do not take part in the voting. “Candidates can come and campaign here, we will hear what they have to say, but in the end it’s not a major issue that we vote for them,” she said. In the recent past the people have suffered, there has not been any government service into their area, though Raiven is only ten minutes from the main road from Tokua to Kokopo town.
The people need a clean water supply, rural electrification, aid post and a primary school for their children. Even at the back of the airport, and watching planes land and takeoff, there is no mobile phone reception, even just for sending messages. …..

 

Elections in Papua New Guinea’s dysfunctional democracy

18 May 2017

Author: Bill Standish, ANU

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/05/18/elections-in-papua-new-guineas-dysfunctional-democracy/

2016 for Papua New Guinea (PNG) was both politically turbulent and economically stressful with government revenues and currency falling, but inflation and deficit rising. The nationwide election in June–July 2017 will be a major measure of the political impact of the government’s critics, and the sustainability of Prime Minister O’Neill’s bankrolling tactics. In May 2016, a five week strike by university students called on O’Neill to resign over corruption and misgovernment allegations. Then in June, police shot at students marching to lobby parliament. After years of parliament not even considering attempted motions of no confidence, the Supreme Court ruled in July that the government must be held accountable. O’Neill survived the 22 July vote of no confidence 85 to 21, after allegedly dispersing district funds totaling many millions of kina through members of parliament (MPs). O’Neill was expanding a pattern set by Sir Michael Somare of a government largely based on allocating billions of kina each year to districts, funds which have contributed to PNG’s fiscal crisis. Unfortunately these funds — which MPs effectively control — have little positive impact on essential services.

The government acknowledges there is corruption but it’s not fighting it hard. The Police Fraud Squad director has estimated that in 2016 complaints of official fraud totaled 1.5 billion kina (US$472 million). Across the country, social media analysts have spread details of collapsing government services and corruption. …. While the constitutional rules of the game will favour the largest party in the house, only a brave observer will predict the outcome of PNG’s upcoming election.

[For the rest of this informative article, see the url above]

 

As election looms, PNG political parties should consider supporting informal economy

May 17, 2017 http://devpolicy.org/election-looms-png-political-parties-consider-supporting-informal-economy-20170517/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=579507e0f8-Devpolicy+News+May+19+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-579507e0f8-227683090

by Busa Jeremiah Wenogo

As the National General Election looms Papua New Guineans are contemplating what the future will hold for them. While important issues concerning employment, infrastructure, education and health will be a key feature for most political parties, equally important for most of the urban voting population will be the new government’s approach towards the country’s large and undeveloped informal economy. Apart from market and street vending, PNG’s informal economy includes informal settlement that is expanding rapidly due to high rental costs and limited availability of low cost housing in most urban centres of the country. In urban centres such as Port Moresby and Lae informal economy is central to the livelihoods of the majority of the population. According to PNG’s Urbanisation Policy[1], “more than 80 percent of the urban unemployed are found in unplanned settlements and villages. However, more than not, the unemployed are involved in some form of income generation as they participate in the activities of the informal economy (informal sector)”. This number is expected to increase into the near future as major cities and centres throughout the country experience further growth and expansion. Driven by promises of transformational outcome as a result of the PNG LNG and large investments, many people rushed into big cities like Port Moresby and Lae in search of useful employment as well as other benefits. However, most of these people end up in the informal economy as employment opportunities become scarce. The situation becomes dire when urban development plans run counter to or do not include the interests of participants in the informal economy.  …There is no doubt that the sector is a “sleeping giant” and if given the right support – in terms of  government policies and laws as well as provision of credit and “political voice” – it can contribute significantly towards addressing some of the country’s development challenges such as rising unemployment and poverty.

 

[For the remainder of this article, see the url above]

.

Transparency PNG says prison system needs rethink

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/transparency-png-says-prison-system-needs-rethink.html

20 May 2017

TRANSPARENCY International Papua New Guinea says authorities need to rethink the way correctional services in the country are run. This comes after 17 prisoners were shot dead last week during a mass escape from Buimo Prison in Lae. Chairman of Transparency PNG, Lawrence Stephens, said there had been an increase in mass jail breaks in PNG in recent years. He said it was clear the system is not working. “It looks as though there is a challenge either in the budgeting of the corrective institutions or a lack of adequate training or there could be disciplinary issues,” Mr Stephens said. “But whatever it is, when you hear that 17 lives have been lost, you have to start questioning the way in which we are responding.”Meanwhile, Amnesty International called for the officers involved in the killings to be suspended and an independent inquiry held. Amnesty’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel, said PNG security forces’ use of lethal force in response to a prison breakout was alarming.

She said the PNG authorities must hold suspected perpetrators to account without recourse to the death penalty. “It is alarming that the security forces’ first response was to use lethal force against unarmed people without any concern for their right to life,” said Ms Patel.. “Prison reforms and accountability mechanisms are crucial to stop these incidents from happening again. “Whatever the crime committed by inmates, they have the right to be treated humanely.” In February last year 12 Buimo prisoners were shot dead in a breakout by 90 prisoners who had overpowered guards at the main gate.

 

3600 still on Manam, more eruption seen

May 22, 2017 The National

EXACTLY 3693 people are still on Manam Island and will need to be evacuated if the volcano eruption affects the whole island. Baliau village which is located at the safe side of the island from the current volcanic eruption has the highest number -2187 – still on the island. The worst affected Dugulava village has only 30 men left there as security guards over gardens and properties after 785 were evacuated to Mandi care centre two weeks ago. From Warisi village on the side of the island facing the open ocean, 71 people need to be evacuated. Madauri has 147 people, Waia has 153 after 75 made their own way to Potsdam care centre last week, Jogari has 283, Yasa 130, Kuluguma 458, Boda 205, Dangale 100, Koalang 40, Bokure 39, Abaria 70 and the neighbouring Boisa Island has 765 people in 165 households.
The Manam volcano continues to erupt occasionally with the latest big blast on Saturday night. Madang provincial disaster and emergency acting director Rudolf Mongallee said Madang provincial government spent K26,000 on food supplies for Dugulava people who were evacuated three weeks ago to Mandi care centre after the volcano first erupted on April 19. Mongallee said the National Disaster Office has assisted with K31,000 but the cheque printed had an error on the account name and was sent back for reprinting.
“That matter has been fixed and when that money comes through we will look at other logistics and additional operations for the disaster.” Mongallee said he has submitted a full report regarding the eruption to the National Disaster Office last week. Dugulava ward councillor Paul Maburau said food distributed at the care centre has run out and people were now going back to the erupting island to get food from their gardens. “Last week some people wanted to fight over some left over fuel to go to the island just for food,” Maburau said. He said the volcano was still erupting and producing lava that could be seen clearly at night with more thick smoke around the crater.

 

Sorcery Issue Raises Concern

Post Courier May 24, 2017

Sorcery-related issues reported in the media recently have raised concerns with authorities and agencies that are working to implement the Sorcery National Action Plan. The government has a national core committee led by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General working to implement the Sorcery National Action Plan to address sorcery and witchcraft related violence in the country. Department of Justice and Attorney-General and Family Sexual Violence Action Committee through the Sorcery National Action Plan Committee are raising these concerns following recent news articles on the torture of four women and the eventual death of a young woman tortured in Enga province in relation to sorcery-accusation related violence. As a member for the core committee, the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee is against the brutal nature of violence that is being committed against helpless women in PNG as a result of sorcery accusations.As a sectoral committee of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council, FSVAC is mandated to work towards reducing the occurrence and suffering caused by physical, sexual and psychological violence within families. CIMC-FSVAC condemns the torturous acts of violence that is leveled against vulnerable women in the communities with the intension to harm or end their lives. The National Core Committee is aware of the issues and is working with government agencies, churches, NGOs and community advocates in the affected provinces to address the issue and help survivors of violence. Just recently the Core Committee for SNAP held a province wide Consultation in Enga and Simbu to raise awareness of the issue and work with their provincial governments to set up provincial committees to address the issue. “No one or group in a community has the right to take away a person’s life for whatever reason. “Any act of violence committed against a person with the intention to harm or kill is a criminal offence and is punishable by law. The Government has taken stringent measures to address this issue with amendment of Section 299A of the Criminal Code which now prescribes the death penalty for all willful murder cases caused by sorcery accusations.

Extreme vetting process for refugees

May 25, 2017 The National

AMERICAN officials have commenced “extreme vetting” of refugees at Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Naru, with lengthy interrogations about their associates and any links to the Islamic State, Reuters reports. Representatives of the US Department of Homeland Security left Manus Island having conducted 48 second-stage interviews, with two refugees divulging details of the process to Reuters. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection this week confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials, 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.
In a separate part of the process, the Department of Homeland Security also collects fingerprint and other biometric data. The third and final stage of the process is a medical assessment. Those assessments commenced in Nauru last week, with approximately 220 to be finished in this round, deputy immigration secretary Rachel Noble told a senate estimates hearing. “It will be some time yet before it is made clear how many people are going from Nauru and how many from Manus,” department secretary Mike Pezzullo said. But the commencement of security interviews indicated Washington would continue to honour the so-called people swap that US President Donald Trump had called “a dumb deal”.

 

Rubi Miranka and the Bougainville Healthy Community Programme

May 9, 2017  http://devpolicy.org/rubi-miranka-bhcp-20170509/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=0fe51cdeb2-ANUUPNG_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-0fe51cdeb2-227683090

The Bougainville Healthy Community Programme (BHCP) is a program run through the Department of Health of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville (DoH) in PNG. In an evaluation report of the BHCP program, it is claimed as an ‘excellent example of well-planned and well-executed public health and community’ and that it is ‘rare to see such a holistic logic and rationale in a project, which has been effectively implemented within the enormous constraints and challenges of a post-conflict setting’. BHCP’s journey is a positive example of partnership between formal and informal institutions, stories of change agents and transformational leaders and good donor coordination. BHCP, which started as an offshoot of the Leprosy Mission in 2009, has now expanded and covers 739 of the 817 villages in Bougainville with 40 full-time staff.

… Bougainville is entering into the next chapter of its history with a referendum due in 2019 to determine its independence. Irrespective of the outcome of the referendum, there is an acute need to develop its resources. While income from the Panguna Mines and other sources of natural resources are being considered, Bougainville needs to focus on developing its human resources too. Rather than relying on mining of natural resources and the uncertain market, there needs to be a greater focus on human resource development.

Ramu sorcery-related case adjourned to July 13

Post Courier, May 26, 2017

A decision on the Ramu 122, sorcery-related murders has been further adjourned to July 13, yesterday afternoon. Resident judge Justice David Cannings, adjourned the case to July 13 for further final submissions from both the state and defense, despite giving theirs on Tuesday this week. In their recent submissions, the defense argued that the state gave conflicting names and couldn’t properly identify those picked out. The state said because the accused opted to remain silent, it made extra work, but all were involved as they had a common purpose and intent when proceeding to kill armed with weapons.

Justice Cannings said he needed further submissions from both, having taken into account; the number of accused, the number of counts of wilful murder, the potential consequences of finding one or more of the accused guilty of one or more of the charges on the indictment, that submissions on verdict presented by both were not sufficiently detailed enough, and that each of the accused are afforded full protection of the law. He therefore, directed that both parties prepare detailed submissions on verdict in relation to proper identification of the accused picked out during the walk through identification in the courtroom during trial.

The Ramu 122 case is so far the biggest murder trial so far to be heard in any court in the country since Independence. The trial was a sorcery-related killing in Naho Rawa LLG in the Rai Coast area of Madang, where a group of armed men in black soot and offensive weapons of sorts, attacked and killed five adults and two children under five years of age. Medical reports showed that all five were killed, their skulls broken and their brain matter removed. The killings were at Sakiko village, three hours by foot from Ranara junction.

 

3000 stranded while transport issues stall evacuation of Manam islanders

May 16, 2017 The National

MORE than 3000 people are still on Manam Island in Madang awaiting transportation to the main land after the two recent volcanic eruptions.

Dugulava Ward Councillor Paul Maburau said the volcano erupted again on Sunday around 6pm and continued to yesterday morning.

More than 2000 people are at Baliau village and 1000 living in the small villages. They need transport to come to the mainland quickly. “They are prepared to move out but they have no means to travel,” Maburau told The National. “The islanders are waiting for the prodisaster office to transport them out.”

According to a report from Volcanological Observatory, the behavior of the summit activity seen in the past few weeks is expected to continue. It advised the people on the island to remain vigilant and to take precautions when necessary. It also advised the remaining islanders to avoid venturing into the four valleys where they do their gardening. Last week, 887 people were evacuated from the island and were now living at the Potsdam care centre. Maburau said food supplied by the provincial disaster office should last for about a week. He said the Red Cross, World Vision and a woman only identified as Maureen has provided tents, mosquito nets and other basic necessities for temporary homes.

 

PNG needs mature education policy, not unsustainable give-away

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/png-needs-mature-education-policy-not-an-unsustainable-give-away.html#more 16 May 2017

WE ARE going into the third week of this eight-week election campaign before polling in Papua New Guinea’s general election commences.

Unlike previous elections, this election appears more sedate. Social media is playing an important role with almost all political parties advertising their messages on Facebook and using social media more effectively. The ruling People’s National Congress has reportedly spent much money disseminating information about its polices in social and mainstream media. One of the PNC’s major pitches is the free education policy. It implemented this policy in office and it proved to haves weaknesses. In what looks like a counter attack, opposition leader Don Polye on behalf of his THE party seemed to write a political suicide note by saying he will scrap the free education policy and introduce “compulsory and subsidised education”. THE party’s policy will make it compulsory to attend school and for parents to pay fees up to Grade 12. But technical and university education will be free. Prime minister O’Neill condemned the opposition saying this was a reckless policy that would set the country back, reverse development and undermine economic growth. “This is the most reckless opposition campaign to be seen in elections for a long time,” he said.

 

Candidates are issuing weapons, teacher says

May 18, 2017 The National

A BOUGAINVILLE primary school teacher, who has been working in Southern Highlands for many years, says weapons are being smuggled in mostly by better educated people. BO, a teacher witnessed a helicopter carrying weapons landing on a sweet potato garden at the village where she was teaching.

She shared her experience during a meeting on social and security issues with key government security agencies and partners last week in Mendi in preparation for the general elections.

She said poor youths and subsistence farmers in the province were provided weapons by educated people, mostly candidates, in preparation for the elections and during tribal conflicts. “It was the poor people’s food garden that was destroyed and many people from the area thought someone important came but weapons were smuggled to the area,” she said. “The owner of the garden watched in surprise about what was going on, but it was the deal of the educated people doing all their best to smuggle high-powered weapons and that has now contributed to the build-up of firearms in the province.” She said she had been moving around the province, teaching in remote areas and during elections, and weapons were displayed and the hot topics were how to win the election and enter parliament. She said there were many awareness programmes carried out over the years on the freedom of choosing leaders and educated people should be the ones telling their people what should be done when electing leaders.

 

El Nino to hit us again

May 31, 2017 The National

THE people have been warned to brace themselves for another El Nino-induced drought soon, similar to one two years ago which badly affected thousands of citizens.
The National Disaster Centre is leading the planning for the natural disaster forecast for August this year so that the mistakes in 2015 and 2016, especially the lack of preparation, are avoided.
Centre director Martin Mose said planning was underway for the El Nino conditions predicted by global and regional climate agencies to happen in August.
It is likely to bring drier-than-normal conditions to PNG.
“In the past when El Nino happens, everybody starts going out and responding everywhere. We don’t like to do that (again) because we can miss the areas heavily affected and we can waste too much time on areas less affected,” Mose told The National.
He said their planning was based on scientific information from the regional integrated multi-hazard early warning system and the National Weather Service.
“It will show us exactly what area in the country is going to be affected and so we can focus our response effort accordingly,” he said.
The Government in its 2016 national budget allocated K220 million towards the drought recovery programmes. It also had to table a 2015 Supplementary Budget to address the shortfalls in revenue caused by factors including the closure of the Ok Tedi mine in Western.
Mose said the El Nino in 2015 and 2016 was challenging because they were still organising themselves when it struck.
“But because of our responsible Government, we were able to mobilise resources with the help of the United Nations,” he said.
He said for this year, they would be more prepared. National Weather Service assistant director Jimmy Gomoga said so far, the El Nino thresholds had not been reached.

 

No plans yet for Manam

May 31, 2017 The National

THE National Disaster Centre is awaiting word from the Madang provincial administration on the future of Manam islanders evacuation because of the recent volcanic eruptions.
Centre director Martin Moses said there were no plans yet for the islanders who were evacuated to the mainland after two eruptions early this month.
The Government through the disaster centre had allocated K31,000 to assist in the evacuation plus other expenses for their stay at the care centres in Madang.
“We haven’t got any plan or arrangements yet but they are our people and we cannot just leave them there,” Mose told The National.
“They (provincial administration) have to give us some indication as to how long they are planning to keep the people at the care centres.
“That will depend on the scientific advice from the Rabaul Volcanic Observatory. For the budget, we expect the Madang provincial administration to give us information so we can ask the government through the treasury and finance departments to make funding available. I’d like to know how much they need.”

 

 

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2017

Cash Aid or Program Aid – A Delicate Balance – Sam Koim

http://www.pngblogs.com/2017/03/cash-aid-or-program-aid-delicate-balance.html?m=1

At the 25th Papua New Guinea–Australia Ministerial Forum held recently in Madang, the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) surprised the Australian Government Ministers in attendance by requesting the Australian Government to take a paradigm shift from its program and project based aid to direct budgetary support as was during early days of PNG’s statehood. Two reasons publicly given by the GoPNG for the request are that firstly, it is claimed that the Australian aid programs are running parallel to the GoPNG development agendas and secondly, it is perceived that a lot of middlemen are chewing up most of the funds that could otherwise be spent on tangible projects. It is understood such requests were made previously and Australia rejected it, but this time, the Australian Government had undertaken to consider it in an upcoming review on aid to PNG. Although the GoPNG denies the request is driven by the cash flow crises the country is facing, it is an open secret that the GoPNG is desperate for cash. The fruitless search for cash included a $US1 billion sovereign bond and a $US250m loan facility from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation through the Central Bank of Papua New Guinea.

[For the rest of this lengthy article, see the url above]

A budget and economic scorecard for the O’Neill government

Separating the Truth from the Lies by Kessy Sawang

An edited version of a speech she gave at the PNG National Party Convention.

I will start with the key indicator of fiscal management – the level of debt. From there I will then discuss the budget deficit and then touch upon the economy.   I’ll walk through what I call the headline issues but from this you will see that it has been an unprecedented scale of financial mismanagement, mistruths and a recklessness that almost seems to be a deliberate sabotaging of the national interest. This is a sad story of failure and the true costs are yet to be revealed. The adjustment required will be painful for our people.

As I said I have been selective in the topics I talk about today because of time constraints but the key message is one of a failed government that is driving our proud country to its knees. We see evidence of this already when this Government went cap in hand to the Australian Government to beg for budget support. This disgraceful begging was met with a stern rebuff from the Australian Government. This is a national embarrassment.

Let me start with this chart. What is shown is public debt for the years 2002 to 2016. The numbers on the vertical axis show the value of public debt in billions of Kina. I have separated the years with a red box. The years that appear within the red box are the years when Peter O’Neill has been the Prime Minister. What stands out clearly from the chart is that over the first nine years the level of public debt remained more or less steady. In fact the value at the end of 2002 was 8.4 billion Kina and up until 2011 it did not go higher than that level. So when O’Neill entered the office of the Prime Minister of PNG in 2011 he inherited a public debt level lower than that at 2002.

What is so clear if you look at this chart of public debt you can see that it has grown faster over O’Neill’s term than it did in the last term. On average, under O’Neill the level of debt has grown by 25% each year. This is an extraordinary growth and is unsustainable – in fact it has brought us closer to a major economic crisis.

[For the rest of this revealing article, see the url above.]

Paying compo not justice: Nili

March 31, 2017 The National

PAYING compensation, practised in many parts of the Highlands region, is a hindrance to the effective administration of justice in  communities, a senior police officer says. Senior Inspector Epenes Nili told a conference on sorcery-related violence in Wabag, Enga that there were laws in place to deal with compensation cases. Nili said it was used to maintain peace and order in the community, however, should not stop the prosecution of those who broke the law. He said a criminal case did not end when the perpetrator gave some form of compensation to the relative of the victim. He said some people resorted to compensation payments to the victims of a crime because they were afraid of being arrested and ending up in court. He said the culprits must be brought before the law and be  dealt with.
Police in the province are also focusing on curbing sorcery-related violence and urge victims to lodge their complaints. “If you shy away from this, how can we help you? It is a two-way thing.
“My fundamental duty is to protect lives. “If your life is in imminent danger, no one will kill you if you come and seek protection from the police.”

Malala students required to sign deal in cult crackdown bid

April 12, 2017 The National

STUDENTS at a Madang school are required to sign an agreement that they will stay away from any cult practices at the school. This follows a fight among students at the Malala Catholic Secondary School in Bogia, Madang.Bruno Tulemanil, the Catholic education secretary in Madang and a school board member, said the agreement was to stop cult practices which created other social problems in the school. Last month, he said a Grade 10 student got drunk and caused a rampage in school which led to its early closure for the Term One break. When the Grade 10 student was suspended, other Grade 10 pupils protested against the suspension and went out of control, he said. They were confronted by some Grade 11 and 12 students and led to a fight which damaged one of the boys’ dormitories. “This cult practice makes them stay silent and not report drinking habits in school,” Tulemanil said. He said students who reported drinking by other students were often beaten up. Tulemanil said part of the agreement was that boys returning to school were to pay K100 each to repair the damage they caused. “All the students will come with their parents to sign the agreement and bring K100 with them,” Tulemanil said.

 

PNG medical supplies contract comes under proper oversight

The National 17 April 2017

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has welcomed the announcement by the Central Supply and Tenders Board chairman, Dr Ken Ngangan, that the medical supplies contract will be subject to the results of a public tender. Since 2013, TIPNG – through its Community Coalition Against Corruption – consistently asked for an investigation into the award of the contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals after tendering rules were changed and the company was awarded a contract which cost the people of PNG nearly K100 million. “A reasonable explanation was never given and this money could have been better used,” Mr Stephens said.

“It is good to see the chairman of the Central Supply and Tenders Board reject yet another attempt by that company to be given preferential treatment and to oblige it to compete fairly.

Mr Stephens said strong signals need to be given and he welcomed Dr Ngangan’s signal that the “rights of the people be placed ahead of the demands of companies and their co-conspirators in decision-making positions to push PNG down paths it should be avoiding.”

 

Manam volcano erupts

The National, April 18, 2017

THE volcano on Manam Island in Bogia, Madang, erupted on Sunday evening, forcing many who had moved back there fleeing for safety. Paul Maburau, the ward councillor for Dugulava village on the island, said they saw flames coming out at around 7pm when many villagers were preparing to have dinner. He said fire was coming out of both craters of the volcano – the one between Bokure village and Kualang village, and the one between Dugulava and Warisi villages.
Maburau said more blasts came during the night and continued through yesterday.
“Every time there was a blast, the ground would shake,” he said.
“The place is very dark with the smoke from the volcano.
“We are taking refuge where we think is safe.”
He said some had left the island on the three available dinghies at Dugulava.
“Many of us left behind are now confused and scared of what will happen next,” Maburau said.
The provincial disaster office confirmed receiving the report from the island and would make plans to assess the situation today and assist the people.
Maburau said the people needed to be evacuated but fuel was the problem.
People from seven village in Giri confirmed seeing fire and smoke from Manam Island. “The volcano is now giving off dust and soon all our gardens will be spoiled,” Maburau said.
“This is my biggest fear because we will starve again.”

More ash spews over Manam

April 19, 2017 The National

THE Manam Island volcano in Bogia, Madang spewed more ash yesterday following eruption on Sunday.
Ward councillor for Dugulava village Paul Maburau said people who had access to transport left for Potsdam care centre on the Bogia mainland since Monday but some others needed help to be evacuated.
“We have dinghies but our problem now is fuel,” Maburau said.
The acting director for Madang provincial disaster and emergency office Rudolf Mongallee could not be reached for comment yesterday but a source from his office said the office was aware of the situation and had taken steps to communicate with authorities to help the people on the island.

Martin Ururu, the president for Iabu LLG representing the Manam islanders, said the people were neglected by the Government for as long as they lived in care centres.
He said those who had fought with landowners of care centres on mainland Bogia had no choice but moved back to the island and were now facing their fears and seeking refuge from the erupting volcano.

 

Response to Manam relief slow

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

WHILE panic and desperation have set in for the people who are on Manam Island, they can only hope and pray someone will come to their rescue. Today (Friday) will mark five days since the craters on the island erupted, spewing stones and heavy ashfall. Immediately, they are in need of fresh water, with their water sources, which are tanks and wells, most probably contaminated by the ashfall. However, government authorities in the province say cash flow is an issue and are depending heavily on the National Disaster and Emergency office to intervene. Provincial administrator Daniel Aloi, when contacted yesterday, said the provincial finance office had warrants, but these were without value, which meant there was no cash to back them. Mr Aloi said any assistance would be dependent on cash availability. Madang’s Provincial Disaster director Rudolf Mongalee also confirmed with local reporters that the office was without funds. Madang governor Jim Kas earlier this week said his office was without funds as he had not received the balance of the provincial services improvement program (PSIP) funds owed by the national government. His appeal to the National Disaster office was for urgent assistance with food rations and fresh water. Mr Kas had stressed that many islanders had moved back in spite of the dangers it posed, adding that those the government was likely to assist were only those from Baliau.

Meanwhile, a ward counsellor has expressed frustration over the lack of urgency by the government to their plight. He said, though it may be argued that the islanders should not have gone back to the island in light of the risks. Villagers from Dugulava who had been residing at the Tobenam and those from Baliau village from care centers were forced back due to the ethnic clashes with the mainlanders.

 

Bomana inmates take part in Way of the Cross

April 19, 2017 The National

FIFTEEN prisoners from the Bomana Prison Camp participated in carrying of the Way of the Cross in Port Moresby on Easter Friday. The prisoners, who were accompanied by three Correctional Services officers, carried the cross from Ela Beach to Down Town Fire Station and later participated in the programme all the way to Mary Queen of Pacific Parish in Waigani. Speaking on their behalf the prisoners, Sam Tom, a prisoner serving his 18th year this year, told The National that it was privilege for them to participate with the community. “Easter is the remembrance day for our Lord Jesus Christ, who came and died for our sins, so to participate with the community outside of prison to remember this day is a privilege for us.”
Tom’s message to youths, students and every Papua New Guinean was to think twice about everything they did. “Every individual must try to do what is good and abide by the laws because the consequence of wrongdoing in the prison is not good,” he said. Tom thanked Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo and officers for allowing them to celebrate Easter outside prison.
Officer accompanying them Sergeant Thomas Gamuna said carrying of the Way of the Cross was an event in which prisoners from the low security unit were allowed to participate in. Among the 15 prisoners was convicted former Pomio MP Paul Tiensten.

Magistrate throws out one of two charges against refugee

April 19, 2017 The National

A COURT has dismissed a case against a refugee, charged with providing false statements to obtain a PNG passport enabling his travel to Fiji, because the prosecution could not prove its case. Waigani Magistrate Mekeo Gauli dismissed the case against Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari, 21, because the prosecution failed to establish the essential elements in the charge. The court found that the arrest of Sawari on Feb 3 was flawed because he was not accorded his rights under Section 42 of the Constitution before a recorded interview was conducted between him and the police. The court also found that the passport used by Sawari to travel to Fiji on Jan 20 was not submitted to court as evidence.
Gauli ordered that his bail of K1000 be refunded. Sawari is facing another charge under the Migration Act which is still pending in court. Sawari was among the asylum seekers sent by the Australian government to the processing centre on Manus three years ago.

Child labour worry

March 20, 2017 The National

THE country has been warned to protect its children against child labour and sexual exploitation, as most of the 186 million cases in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region. During the launching last week in Mt Hagen of the national action plan to eliminate child labour, Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Benjamin Poponawa said current laws on child labour were ineffective and must be updated. International Labour Organisation director of the Pacific Island countries Donglin Li thanked the Government for launching its action plan “to protect the right and freedom of children” He said of the 186 million around the world engaged in child labour, the highest number was in the Asia-Pacific region. Li said around 85 million children were engaged in hazardous work, 5.7 million in forced and bound labour, 1.8 million in commercial sexual exploitation and 600,000 involved in other illicit activities.

First Home Owner Scheme out of reach for average Papua New Guineans
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

A research paper published by the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (NRI) has raised concerns that the First Home Owner Scheme (FHOS) might be unrealistic for low income earners in the country. In 2013 the PNG government allocated K200 million into the FHOS which is managed by the Bank South Pacific (BSP). This was one of the government initiatives undertaken at the time to address the need for more affordable housing in the country, especially in some of the more populated urban areas. However, according to the study conducted by associate professor Eugene Ezebilo, any household that spends more than 30 per cent of their income on housing will have housing affordability problems.

Prof Ezebilo says considering the 30 per cent benchmark and the 4 per cent annual interest compounded on the loan, it would take the average low income earner in Port Moresby 60 years to repay the money sourced from the FHOS for a house in the lowest price range of about K300 000. Unfortunately FHOS conditions stipulates a forty year repayment period, which means that low income earners may not be able to benefit from the home ownership scheme. As of April this year, BSP has approved 534 home loans valued at K270 million under the FHOS.

 

Enga, SHP prone to violence
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

Enga and Southern Highlands have been identified as two provinces most prone to human rights violation during the National Election. This was highlighted during the recent Highlands Human Rights Defenders training in Mount Hagen in which 15 participants from the Highlands provinces raised concerns about possible human rights abuses in the coming months. The Defenders said that violation of human rights during the election period was very real and huge, but they mostly go unnoticed, or is not addressed seriously. Facilitator and adviser to the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Commission, Kedar Poudyal, told participants to identify the hotspot provinces for abuses and plan strategies that could be used for corrective actions to address human rights violation. Participants identified problems during elections as isolation of polling booths, women and girls threatened and forced to vote against their will and discrimination of the marginalised and vulnerable population during voting.

The training for Highlands Human Rights Defenders was held on March 27-29 at Hotel Kimininga jointly organised by the Religion, Youth and Community Development Department, UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Oxfam.

 

Children appeal for Mother’s Release

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

FOUR children whose father was killed in a recent car accident in Mount Hagen, have appealed for their mother to be released from prison. Jonah Samuel, the elder son of the late Samuel Goi, made this appeal representing his three siblings, Lydia, Levai and Boss, who have been living with their father for the last ten years.Their mother, Grace Samuel, is serving time in Barawagi Jail, Simbu Province. The mother of the four children was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for killing another woman. Twelve-year-old Jonah, who is in grade four at Ogelbang Primary School, said the burden of looking after Lydia, 10, Levai, nine and six-year-old Boss is an enormous. Jonah will be the one to take charge after the passing of his father as their grandparents died a long time ago. “We don’t have anyone to take care of us. My mother is from Eastern Highlands Province and all my uncles, aunties and bubus are at Asaro,” Jonah said.He made an appeal to the Department of Correctional Service (CS)and Justice Department to release his mother even though she has three more years to serve in prison from the 10 years sentenced.

“We are appealing to the CS and the courts to release our mother. I am only in grade four, Lydia and Levai are in grade two and Boss is in elementary. “We are all in school and we don’t have someone to cook for us, wash our clothes, buy our clothes and meet our needs. Our father died and mother is in prison. Their absences in the house leave a vacuum that breaks our hearts every moment.

Jika Delemp community leader Afike Kunai said the children’s father had a disability, and he raised the kids all his life without their mother until he was allegedly killed and pushed into the river by a car.

 

Do anticorruption messages work?

Findings so far and what they could mean for Papua New Guinea

By Caryn Peiffer on April 20, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/anticorruption-messages-work-findings-far-mean-png-20170420/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=7e0591dc1d-Devpolicy+News+April+21+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-7e0591dc1d-227683090

Most anticorruption programs now include an awareness-raising element. The hope is that anticorruption messages – whether shared via posters, radio or TV, for example – will inspire citizens to refuse to pay bribes and to report any corruption they encounter. But there is so far little evidence available to tell us how effective these messages are. Some scholars have argued that they might even backfire and discourage the reporting of corruption. Could such messages simply prompt people to recall preconceived views that corruption is a widespread, insurmountable problem?

Together we recently also looked at PNG citizens’ willingness to report corruption. Using 2010-2011 household survey data and quantitative analysis, we asked which factors influenced willingness to report several different types of corrupt acts, and to what extent. A key finding was that citizens were less likely to be willing to report corruption if they lacked trust that the authorities would take action as a result. This suggests that in PNG an awareness-raising approach may have little effect. In the 2010-11 household survey, 38% of the 1,825 respondents agreed with the statement, ‘There is no point in reporting corruption because nothing useful will be done about it.’ [See url above for the full article]

 

PNG at 40: reflecting on the past to build a solid future for Papua New Guinea

http://devpolicy.org/png-40-reflecting-past-build-solid-future-papua-new-guinea-20170406/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=84da678560-ANUUPNG_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-84da678560-227683090

By Paul Barker on April 6, 2017

By the global standards of newly independent nations, Papua New Guinea experienced a relatively smooth transition to nationhood and comparatively untraumatic, or at least peaceful subsequent years. Although some observers predicted turmoil and breakup of the country upon Independence from Australia in 1975, instead PNG has remained intact and sustains a vibrant democracy, despite ongoing stresses and some clear aberrations from most political norms (not least the pursuit of politics seemingly oversubscribed, and not entirely for altruistic reasons). Although much has certainly been achieved in PNG over the past 41 years, the optimism that overtook much of the population around Independence has morphed for many into a level of disappointment and frustration over aspects of the country’s economic, social, political and cultural development.

Maybe the expectations at Independence were unrealistically high, and have been further fuelled by constant promises of wealth emanating from the country’s resources, which for much of the population (including those termed ‘resource owners’) have not converted into reality. Instead, access to economic opportunities and quality public goods and services has proven limited, especially in rural parts of the country seemingly deteriorated, whilst violent crime, and particularly violence against women and children, remain a constant threat in the major urban centres.

Often referred to as PNG’s ‘paradox of development’, resource wealth and periods of strong economic growth have failed to date to deliver broad-based and sustained economic and social opportunities, including strong and satisfactory improvement in social indicators. PNG is not alone in experiencing such travails of development, aspects of which are sometimes termed the ‘Resource Curse’, but the country should be able to achieve more meaningful improvements for the lives of its population into the future without forfeiting its cultural or environmental heritage, which are featured strongly in the National Constitution.

The PNG at 40 Symposium was organised by the Institute of National Affairs (INA) to bring together a team of dedicated persons with an immense wealth of experience of policy making and its application in PNG, to reflect on lessons and experience from the past and to contribute to preparing for and addressing the challenges of the future. The Symposium, held in March 2016 in Alotau, was intended to develop a home-grown, constructively critical and useful analysis of PNG’s forty years of independence, and to extract what can be learned from that experience to address current issues and inform future planning. It is hoped the symposium’s output will make a significant and practical contribution to the challenging and continuing task of nation-building. The three-day, by-invitation symposium was attended by 40 men and women who have been, are and intend to be engaged in shaping PNG’s political and economic development. They came from all walks of life: political, governmental, non-governmental, private sector, academia and the churches, and almost entirely Papua New Guineans.

Nine papers were commissioned from participants for presentation. The subjects fell within four broad themes – (i) PNG as a nation-state, (ii) PNG as a developing economy, (iii) PNG as an ethnically diverse society, and (iv) PNG in the Pacific, Asia and the world. Participants debated the issues raised by the papers, shared observations and insights, analysed lessons from past experience, and collectively reached reasoned conclusions about what lies ahead, and how PNG can best manage and influence current and foreseeable problems and issues.

A final session was devoted to Shaping and Building PNG’s future. Here, the participants built on the conclusions reached in the prior nine sessions and narrowed these down to Five Strategic Priorities:

  • Repair the Broken Political System
  • Shift the Focus from Monetary GDP to Broad Based and Sustainable Economic Growth
  • Restore a Professional, Accountable, Public Service and Institutions
  • Comprehensively and Effectively Apply the Rule of Law
  • Recognise and Promote PNG Culture

A central concern of the Symposium was the declining adherence to the rule of law and established systems and processes, including the National Constitution, both in government and across society. There was considerable discussion over the suitability of the Westminster system, as currently applied, and the vacuum associated with the shift from traditional Melanesian leadership and accountability arrangements to new and relatively alien systems of government (despite the recognition for traditional ways highlighted in the Constitution). However, it was emphasised that whatever system of government applies or is adapted over time, respect and adherence to the rule of law and accepted rules for society form the basis of a working society. Much needs to be done to reverse the slippage from that principle that has occurred over the years in most spheres of public life and accountability, both at the political and public service levels and more widely through society, in order to ensure the necessary and steady improvement in social and economic opportunities for the nation’s entire population.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2017

Yuri peace building activities focus on mobilising youth

01 March 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/yuri-peace-building-activities-focus-on-mobilising-youth.html#more

AT the heart of all the activities of the Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA) are the 4Rs – reunion, reconciliation, rebuilding and restoration. YAKA – established to bring the Yuri people of Simbu peace and development – has quietly celebrated many achievements over the last three years. Cultured Yuri people understand that these achievements are the seeds of a continuously peaceful society. It is their gift to ensuing generations. Unfortunately, there are uncultured people who don’t understand and appreciate YAKA’s achievements.

In these three years, there has been renewed tribal unity. It can happen over beer, shared cigarettes, chatting on Facebook, email, cultural events, youth camps or just walking and talking along the bush tracks of home amongst the never ending gorges and mountain ridges.

These are some of the manifestations of tribal unity and celebration.

In the last week of December and on the first day of January each year, YAKA members come together to celebrate. The Yuri people are scattered all over Papua New Guinea, looking for a better life just like other Papua New Guineans. A few work and live in other countries.

They are hard-working people, who contribute tirelessly to nation building: some at tribal level, others at government level and others using the churches as a vehicle to unite the tribe and expose it to development challenges. [for the full article, see the url above]

 

TB rate skyrocketing

March 3, 2017 The National

THE rate of new infections for tuberculosis (TB) per year in Papua New Guinea has increased from 3000 in 2005 to 30,000 in 2015, an official says. Businesses for Health (B4H) TB project manager Dr Ann Clarke said at a project launching: “Business for Health TB project aims to engage the private sector to support the Department of Health’s efforts to end the TB epidemic and reduce the high rates of drug resistant TB, particularly in the National Capital District. “Around 20 per cent (more than 6000 of the nearly 30,000 new TB infections in PNG were detected in National Capital District in 2015.”
“I am not here to try and turn you into TB experts and TB doctors. I am here to change behaviours and to provide network and information necessary for you to make use of the world class facilities that can be found in 15 locations around the NCD. “If we can stop people getting sick, after one year and two years and start attending to people coughing up to two weeks we can change the pace of this epidemic.”

 

B’ville independence depends on Panguna
Post Courier, March 03, 2017

THE Bougainville Government’s position on Panguna mine had always been clear – to re-open it, says Bougainville Vice-President Raymond Masono. Mr Masono said that the region would have fiscal self-reliance and also the majority of Bougainvilleans would enjoy a better life again when the mine re-opens. He said there was opposition to the mine re-opening but they were a minority. “We need Panguna to finance independence for Bougainville,” he added. Mr Masono said that the mine would bring quick development and it still had a large known reserve yet to be mined. Last week in Buka, K5 million was paid to four landowner associations. The cheque payment by Bougainville Copper Limited was done at Kuri Village Resort and was witnessed by Mr Masono, ABG Ministers, senior government officers and staff. “It is not the devil that we used to know, but it’s now the devil that we own,” Mr Masono said in reference to BCL, adding that it would be foolish go out looking for other developers when BCL was available. Six landowner associations that were established before the Bougainville Crisis (1988-1998) and another three were established after the conflict, bringing the total to nine landowner associations. More than K14 million will be made to the Panguna landowner groups when Bougainville Copper Limited completes outstanding claims are settled.

 

BCL compensation payments trigger disputes in Bougainville

09 March 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/bcl-compensation-payments-trigger-disputes-in-bougainville.html#more

LAST Saturday morning at around 10 o’clock two vehicles passed my hamlet at the entrance of the Panguna mine’s pit drainage tunnel. On them were faces I knew from Konnuku Village, downstream from the Panguna tailings carried along in the Kabarong River. All the faces were angry and showed there was a purpose to their run. That purpose became clear on Monday. An entire family homestead was torched. The victims lost all their property and valuables, including money, to the fire. The reason for the raid was that the father of the family was said to have received K50,000 in compensation from Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) for land blocks owned by his matrilineal family and he was not sharing it with his matrilineal uncles and nieces. Such anti-social quakes are now rocking the entire Panguna mine affected areas as they receive outstanding compensation owed to them by BCL since 1990 when the Bougainville conflict interrupted mining operations. During the heyday of BCL on Bougainville, landowners with legal title to land affected by company operations received monthly royalties. My grandmother said she received about K170 a month.

After almost 25 years she will get K7,000. This is because some of the blocks of land were under her name and legal ownership devolved to her children and grandchildren but not my mother, who did not want us to have title to any piece of land belonging to our extended family. My mother claims too many Bougainvilleans have suffered as a result of the Panguna mine thus, for her, this is blood money. We do not want to benefit from blood money.

My mother’s stand is not an isolated one. Within the benefiting communities people’s social bonds are being axed by this process. ….

What belongs to the landowners of the mine affected areas belongs to them. It is their business with BCL. But maintaining a harmonious co-existence within our community is paramount for Bougainville as a whole.

 

Caritas Coodinators opposes sea bed mining
Post Courier, March 06,2017, 10:00 am

CARITAS Coordinators from 19 Catholic Dioceses of the Catholic Church of PNG have opposed the decision to experiment deep sea mining in PNG. The organisation held its Annual Caritas PNG Forum 2017 in Madang last month and among others opposed and called to put a stop to experimental seabed mining in PNG waters. The group said in a statement that the negative impacts of the mine greatly outweigh the anticipated benefits. “Therefore, in solidarity with Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Bismarck Ramu Group, and other concerned organisations, we are compelled to speak out on behalf of the affected silent majority in the rural coastal and island communities,” the group said. The group added that the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the Mining Minister Byron Chan to order an immediate ban on experimental seabed mining. We call on all governors and Open Members of Parliament of Maritime Provinces to support this call on behalf of their people.

 

Converting illegal leases makes people slaves on own land

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/converting-illegal-leases-makes-people-slaves-on-their-own-land.html#more 07 March 2017

COMMUNITY advocacy group Act Now has condemned plans by the Papua New Guinean government to convert unlawful land leases to another form of land tenure using Incorporated Land Groups. Act Now says converting the so-called SABL leases will not only repeat injustice and human rights abuses, it will give control of vast tracts of land to a small number of people overseen by a corrupt and dysfunctional Department of Lands. Act Now says the plan is an attempt by the government to appease the foreign owned logging industry and oil palm companies and ensure a continuation of their illegal occupation of customary land.

“If the land ends up being registered then it could be sold, leased or mortgaged again and again,” Act Now said. “It is the next step in making people slaves in their own communities and excluding them permanently from their land.” Act Now said the only proper course of action is for the government to cancel the leases and return the land to customary landholders. It will then be for the people to decide on the future of their land. It said that over the past 10 years fraudulent Special Agriculture Business Leases have been used to steal rights to more than five million hectares of customary land from local communities. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had promised the government would implement the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry and cancel the leases; but now the Lands Minister wants to convert them to another form of land tenure.

 

‘No safety gear on Rabaul Queen’
Date: March 10, 2017, 5:08am News.com.au

SAFETY equipment were non-existent on the vessel the night the Rabaul Queen sank in the waters of Morobe Province on February 2, 2012, claiming more than 170 lives. A State witness Elvin Lunagau said this during the trial of the owner of the ship, Peter Sharp.

Mr Sharp and Peter Tsiau, the captain of the vessel the night it sank, are facing several charges of manslaughter before the Kokopo National Court in East New Britain Province. Mr Lunagau told the court that the vessel had no life jackets on board when it left Kimbe wharf in West New Britain Province. He is the first of more than 10 witnesses who will be giving evidence in the first week of the trial. Mr Lunagau gave evidence that the ship was overloaded, making it impossible for passengers in the lower decks to escape when it started sinking..

 

No dialysis treatment to cure chronic kidney disease in PNG
Post Courier, March 10, 2017

CHRONIC kidney disease (CKD) is becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, and Papua New Guinea is no exception. According to data collected by the PNG Kidney Foundation in 2016, around 40 per cent of deaths in PNG are because of the diseases and 60 per cent of patients suffer from chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis, but cannot afford to get treatment. Only 40 per cent of patients are able to seek further treatment.

Mr Poh said currently, in the foundation, they have seen more than 70 patients who have been diagnosed with chronic kidney failure and undergo hemodialysis treatment three times a week. “So far we have provided 2000 sessions of hemodialysis treatment,” he said.

“It’s a problem I’ve noticed from the last couple of years where many patients have come in to the Port Moresby General hospital but we do not have proper facilities and we lose many of the patients. “Because we do not have much to offer, and we continue to tell the patients that if you do not have this amount of money to go overseas for kidney transplant, this is the end of the road to life,” he said.

 

PNG surprises Australia with request to change structure of aid

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/png-surprises-australia-with-request-to-change-structure-of-aid.html#more

AUSTRALIA’S increasingly tricky relationship with Papua New Guinea could be about to get more difficult. The PNG government has asked Australia to directly fund its health and education spending after it suffered a severe economic downturn and was forced to make major budget cuts. PNG used the 25th ministerial forum between the two countries to ask Australia to shift its $500 million of annual aid away from narrowly-focused programs into helping fund its health, education and infrastructure priorities. Australia has given $5 billion in aid over the last decade, but has been changing its approach for the past few years.

Some comments: I’m quite happy for my Australian taxes to go towards helping PNG solve its Health and Education problems. The Health problem is huge. People are dying everyday from curable illness. The future of PNG relies on its Education.

Here is a comment from a Health Worker in Maprik in the Sepik, one of my friends, made yesterday….

“We are now facing the problem of the decisions made by the top people and the government of that time and now we are using some of the sub standard drugs.

“For example the current Lignocaine vial for injection to stop pain before suturing a wound is not working, but we suture the patients with pain which is unethical and unprofessional.

“Still worse, all Health facilities in PNG are facing serious drug shortages than all the previous years before 2013. “Currently all Health workers are referring their patients to pharmacies to buy their own drugs or for those who cannot afford to buy are asked to use herbal remedies to treat themselves. “The people are being told to look after themselves as all Health facilities are facing the problem of drug shortage while the country is facing cash flow problem.

 

Papua New Guinea gets a dose of resource curse

By Michael Main from the Australian National University

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/png-gets-a-dose-of-resource-curse-from-exxonmobils-lng-project/8343090

The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region. Constructed at a stated cost of US$19 billion, it’s operated by ExxonMobil in joint venture with Oil Search and four other partners. The project extracts natural gas from the Papua New Guinea highlands, where it is processed before being sent via some 700 kilometres of pipeline to a plant near the nation’s capital, Port Moresby. The gas is then liquefied and transferred into ships for sale offshore. Construction for the project began in 2010, and the first gas shipment was made in May 2014.

 

In the years since construction began, Papua New Guinea’s ranking on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index has fallen by two places to 158, having been overtaken by Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Far from enhancing development indicators, the largest development project in PNG’s history has coincided with an unprecedented downgrade in the country’s development status. But very little is known about the actual impact of the project on local landowners. This is largely due to the remote location of the gas field in the mountainous Hela Province. The dire security situation in that part of Papua New Guinea also makes any investigation a highly dangerous undertaking.

 

But the reality — after four years of operation and windfall profits for the project’s joint venture partners — is that the project has delivered almost nothing of benefit to landowners.

The most terrifying aspect of life in Hela province has been the proliferation of weapons. The This pre-existing context of intense inter-clan rivalry has been made worse by the frustrations of a population hammered by the broken promises of the nation’s largest resource development project. Much of this fighting is a direct result of payments made to landowners displaced by the project. Compensation money paid to affected clans invariably ends up in the hands of individuals who fail to distribute the funds properly or support their own families, and the money is always paid to men. Papua New Guinea now faces a situation where it’s compelled to send its army to an area where a major resource extraction project has failed to deliver on its promises to landowners. It may be time for all parties involved — both state and corporate — to consider development as a more effective path to peace.

 

All SABLs unlawful
March 14,2017, 01:28 am

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has confirmed that the National Executive Council has cancelled all licences and SABLs are illegal. He said this in response to a community advocacy group Act Now which had been vocal about the land grab issue in relation to SABL – special agriculture and business leases. “I have made a decision that I can make that is legally required of me and NEC, that is that we have cancelled all the licences, all the SABL licenses are illegal in this country.” PM O’Neill said.

“I think that its best that you ask the agencies like Lands and Physical Planning Department why are these licenses are still operating, that’s a very good question, you should ask them why they are still operating, somebody is not doing their job.”

“SABL licences are illegal in this country, but some people have disregard for the decisions that we are making and this is where Police and Lands and Physical Planning Department and agencies of our government should work together and stop these people”

“Most of them are not Papua New Guineans so why are they still in the country, they should be put on a plane and sent back home,” Mr O’Neill said.

 

Sir Salamo: Processing of refugee status fair

March 14, 2017 The National

CHIEF Justice Sir Salamo Injia says that 69 per cent of asylum seekers receiving refugee status at the Manus regional processing centre shows that there is a fair and merit-based process in place. Sir Salamo was part of a panel of three judges from the Supreme Court who refused to stop the deportation of asylum seekers classified as non-genuine refugees.
“The high number of refugees has now placed the Government of PNG and the government of Australia under enormous and onerous responsibility to settle them in a new home country of their choice, including Australia and PNG,” Sir Salamo said.
He said the respondents in the matter, the State and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister “At the peak of the transfers (of asylum seekers to Manus) in November 2013, the number of transferees reached 1339,” Sir Salamo said.
“On March 6, the number was reduced to 888. I would have to assume that the difference of 451 transferees has already been processed and no question arises in respect of them.
“The respondents (State and Pato) say some of those have returned to their home countries voluntarily. “Of the 888, a total of 819 transferees have been processed of which 614 (69 per cent) have been determined to be genuine refugees, 205 (23 per cent) determined to be non-refugees and 69 (3 per cent) still remain asylum seekers and their applications are under processing.”Sir Salamo said that the processing of asylum seekers’ refugee status should remain the responsibility of the PNG Government through the application of PNG law and international law on refugees.

 

MP urge churches to challenge Govt
Post Courier, March 15, 2017

CHURCHES have been accused of being compromised because they do not criticise the Government over serious issues affecting the people. They have also been blamed for not keeping the government in check.nThis is according to Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil who was speaking at a policy awareness gathering at the Mutzing Station in Morobe Province. Mr Basil also said despite bringing a Bible into Parliament, Members had no respect for it and were creating deals everywhere when they should be repenting. Mr Basil praised the Catholic Bishop’s Conference as the only Christian entity that prominently spoke out on issues affecting the people. “Churches must question the government,” Mr Basil said.

He said the churches are a body that can question the government in the interest of the people.

“I commend the Catholic Bishop’s Conference because they are vocal about issues affecting our people,” Mr Basil said. He said the leaders of this nation are abusing the Christian title that PNG has.

 

Shortage of medicine due to administrative delays
Post Courier, March 14, 2017

The Governments failure to renew the contract for medical supplies has health facilities feeling the pinch of medicine shortage. Finance secretary and acting chairman for CSTB Dr Ken Ngangan said yesterday that an administrative delay has led to an interim arrangement (Certificate Of Inexpedience) with State Solicitor seeking  the extension of the current 100 percent medical kits contract with Contractor Borneo Pacific for one year. This means that the medicine contractor Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals will continue to supply medical drugs for one year. (Beginning November 2016). Dr Ken said sent a letter to the health secretary requesting that his department fast tract the new contacts so that delays may not occur again.

 

Domestic violence increasing, says Police

March 15, 2017 The National

CASES of domestic violence reported in the suburbs of Waigani are alarming and need to be addressed, an officer says. Chief Sergeant Andrew Geluwa of the Waigani police station said at least 25 cases were reported to the station each day.
“There are lots of reported cases of domestic violence in other stations but for Waigani alone, it is scary,” he said.
“It is at an alarming rate and we have to do something to address it because the media do not see what is happening to the people.” Geluwa said most of the reports received were from highlanders living around Waigani. He said the traditional belief that men own their wives after paying bride prices was one of the reasons for the increase. He said men attacked their wives after paying the bride price without realising that wife-bashing was a crime.
Senior Constable Marlton Bessie said the figures were alarming. “In 2016, when we looked at the statistic in the first two months, it was terrible. Every day, we are receiving reports of about 25 cases,” Bessie said. “That happens every single day in a week and it is scary to see that most of the cases received from the front desk all are related to family issues, whether it is assault or rape.”

 

Churches urged to help fight HIV hike
Post Courier, March 16, 2017

HEADS of churches have been encouraged to make proactive recommendations on how they will address the root causes of HIV transmission and sensitive issues associated with it.

Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby Cardinal John Ribat said this at the first HIV Summit for Heads of Churches at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby yesterday. “As heads of churches, we will have to report back on our HIV Statement of Commitment which was signed on May 5, 2010. “It is also a time for us to learn about the current HIV situation at the country, regional and global level and to see where the response gaps are and how we as churches can respond to addressing those gaps,” he said. “This summit is not about solving the problem of HIV and AIDS but it is more about finding a solution through collective effort that will impact on distorted values, attitudes and behaviors of people. “We must focus on building relationships with our people through Christian love and service so that we may be able to lead them to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said. Cardinal Ribat urged the Government to increase domestic funding to support church programs driven to address the root causes of GBV and HIV transmission. He said in order to build and maintain that relation, the Christian leaders have to effectively communicate with the people through provision of programs and services at the community level.

 

Ex-inmates invited to mentor city youth
Post Courier, March 16, 2017

EX-prisoners of Hope Association in Lae are inviting youths and ex-prisoners, convicts to refrain from crime and illegal activities and join their association. Ex-prisoners and founders of the Ex-prisoners Association Levi Ateike Bata and Richard Mongofa, in an interview, told Post-Courier it is time the prisoners preach and conduct awareness on the ‘life in the fast lane’ so that today’s youth can understand better.

Mr Ateike said minimising crime activities in the city can be fulfilled with the Ex-prisoners of Hope programs to change the mindset of youths and prisoners and give them a hope for a better future. He said today’s generations or gang groups must come to an understanding that police forces and laws and ways of organised crime activities in the past is not an exception compared to today’s disciplinary and law system. “I am now calling on the ex-prisoners and youth who are still involved in criminal activities to starting making the choice to join us and leave ‘the life of the fast lane,’” said Mr Ateike. He said crime will never take you anywhere but you will always end up at the prison and that is how crime is designed by the world.

 

Women with Disability still feel threatened
Post Courier, March 15, 2017

Access to public transportation for women with disability is non-existent and something must be done about it, says PNG Assembly of Disable Persons national executive treasurer and spokesperson Benson Tegia. “Women with disability feel threatened, unsafe and vulnerable to discrimination attacks when they try to access basic services,” he said.

He added that discrimination was another issue that most women with disability faced because many able bodied people are scared or have attitude problems. “We need to educate and create more awareness for able bodied people to understand that PWD’s are normal human beings like anyone else and deserve the same treatment, either it be security at home, accessing shops, hotels or being able to walk down the street without anyone giving that person the eye,” said Tegia. “Our city environment is built in a way that everything is at a disadvantage for persons living with disability, the foot paths are narrow, there’s no ramps for PWD’s to have access to shops, buses, clubs, hospitals and the list goes on,” said Tegia.

He added that as tax payers, PWD’s had the right to access basic services.

 

PNG tops HIV statistics in Pacific

March 16, 2017 The National

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest HIV prevalence among the Pacific island nations – with the concentration highest in the Highlands provinces, an official says.National Aids Council Secretariat regional manager Valentine Tangoh told a summit of church leaders in Port Moresby discussing HIV/AIDS in PNG, that HIV prevalence was around 0.8 per cent among men and women between 15 and 49 years of age. Enga recorded 1.7 per cent, Jiwaka 1.6 per cent, Western Highlands 1.3 per cent and Eastern Highlands one per cent. He said studies showed a high prevalence of HIV among female sex workers (19 per cent), male sex workers (8.8 per cent) and transgender males. Tangoh said the HIV prevalence rate in other provinces was also increasing. The key groups were men and women involved in the sex industry, he said. He also told the church leaders that the key groups were often discriminated against.
“Even the police refuse to file cases, (public sector) staff refuse to provide services which the key population need, and most commonly, family rejection,” Tangoh said.
 

How rural women can become Papua New Guinea’s agribusiness entrepreneurs

14 Mar 2017

http://www.businessadvantagepng.com/women-transforming-agribusiness-in-png/?utm_source=Business+Advantage+PNG+weekly+update&utm_campaign=8bb560e82e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_02084d248f-8bb560e82e-414187405

Women in rural Papua New Guinea are keen to engage in agribusiness but many have traditionally struggled to take leadership roles. That is beginning to change, Curtin University researcher Dr Gina Koczberski tells Business Advantage PNG.

Operating small-scale agribusiness financially empowers women by giving them greater control of household income and expenditure, according to Dr Gina Koczberski, who is researching ways women in rural areas of Papua New Guinea can take up more leadership roles in agribusiness. It also results in a range of benefits for the wider community. On average, 75 per cent of income generated by women is used to meet family needs, compared with 25 per cent of men’s income. …

 

‘Causes of HIV remain’

March 17, 2017 The National

THE factors that cause the rise in HIV transmission remain today, according to National Catholic AIDS coordinator Sister Tarcisia Hunhoff. Hunhoff told the church leaders’ HIV summit in Port Moresby it appeared that “the same warnings that prompted concern in the past, including high level of sexually-transmitted infection and high level of sexual risks behaviour, social urban drift are evident today”. “An added factor in recent years is the resource boom that is bringing money and mobility to many people particularly in the remote areas,” she said. “The church is challenged by this situation in more than one way. What then is the church responses? Can we identify ourselves as bystanders, onlookers or judges or somebody who tried to understand what was happening?
“How then did you and I perceive the epidemic?” She said the change in lifestyle and behaviour remained the main cause of gender-based violence which was a root causes of the spread of HIV/AIDS. “I have lived 47 years in PNG and I have seen so many changes in lifestyle in behaviour. One of the contributions to the HIV epidemic in my opinion is the problem of social disintegration,” she said. “Society has disintegrated which is a very sad story. And out of this integration, all the problems we are seeing with HIV and gender-based violence.

High cost of living causes poverty

March 17, 2017 The National

THE rapidly rising cost of living in the country appears to be a major contributor to the high poverty rate since 2009, an official says. Martyn Namorong is the national coordinator of the PNG Resource Governance Coalition and Secretariat for Institute of National Affair Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council. “Poverty levels in PNG have gotten worse over the last decade. This indicates that being able to get out of poverty for those people who are poor are near impossible,” he said. He said urban poverty was likely to become one of the most important development challenges facing PNG and threatened progress. A study by the Waikato University, New Zealand found that between 1996 and 2009, there was no evidence of poverty decline in PNG (John Gibson 2013). It found that poverty instead had become more widespread with the rapid rise of urban living being the major contributing factor. Poverty in Port Moresby worsened because a larger share of six percent of the national poverty tally joined the poor. “Definitions of poverty in PNG tend to be debates over semantics. But the work by the Waikato University presented evidence of the child not growing as an indicator of nutritional poverty.”

 

Manam settlers facing school fees problems

March 17, 2017 The National

The people of Manam Island in Madang, who are living in care centres are facing school fees problems, their council president says. Iabu LLG president Martin Ururu said apart from other problems faced by the Islanders, school fees were a major concern for all parents.
Around 12,000 people of Manam Island were forced to evacuate the island in 2004 when a volcano erupted and they are now living in care centres in Bogia and Sumkar districts.
“My officers have been bombarded with request for school fees but my LLG cannot help because there is no money,” Ururu said. He said the Manam Resettlement Programme should assist the parents. “The LLG has been trying its best to pay school fees for university students, vocational and technical students but unfortunately we are running out of money because last year the Government didn’t give us our funds and now the LLG cannot assist,” Ururu said. Other problems faced by the Manam people include food shortage, poor housing, lack of clean drinking water, shortage of medical drugs and conflicts with landowners.

 

Australia on Manus: ‘Tough luck PNG, the refugees are your problem

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/australia-on-manus-tough-luck-png-the-refugees-are-your-problem.html

I CAN tell you what the Australian government is going to do about the refugees on Manus Island who won’t be resettled in the United States. Nothing.

There are potentially hundreds of men on Manus Island who could — if the figure of 1,250 refugees to be taken by the United States is correct — be left behind.

Parliamentary Library figures show there are at least 1,616 refugees on the two islands — 941 on Nauru and 675 on Manus. The US government has said it is assessing them for resettlement on the basis of vulnerability, which suggests the women and children on Nauru will take priority over the all-male population of the Manus Island centre. That could mean hundreds of refugees will remain on Manus Island. Their only option to leave Manus is resettlement elsewhere in Papua New Guinea — something most have steadfastly resisted.

The PNG government wants to know what plans Australia has for those men, given it wants to close the centre by the end of October. Planning Minister Charles Abel outlined PNG’s concerns after the annual ministerial forum between PNG and Australia recently.

“Some [of the men] are caught in the middle and that’s the difficult piece that needs to be addressed in this short time frame,” he said. “What happens to those people that don’t want to settle here and are unable to return home for some reason? That’s an issue that both parties have to resolve.” The number of refugees working and living in the PNG community — those who are considered “resettled” — fluctuates, but is usually less than two dozen. Many find it too hard, or too dangerous, to live in PNG and return to Manus Island.

 

Church requests govt to assist health workers
Post Courier, March 23,2017

MARY, Queen of Peace sub-health centre will provide other services if government steps in to pay some health workers. This was the request from Vicar General Father Arnold Schmitt during the opening of the K850,000 Mary, Queen of Peace sub-health centre at Lae’s Back Road area over the weekend. Fr Arnold said health accessibility in some parts of industrial city of Lae is lacking and the Catholic Church has stepped in to provide the health facility, equipment, medical supplies and workforce. “We are ready to open our doors to patients with four nursing officers, a cleaner and receptionist. “Two of the nurses are on the National Department of Health payroll while the other two nursing officers will be paid by the Catholic Health Services temporary while waiting for the government to take over,” Fr Schmitt explained. He said the challenge of expanding clinical services provided at the hospital will depend on government intervention with funding for additional manpower and health programs and activities roll-out.nFr Arnold said the services that will be provided is diagnosing patients and prescribing treatments but for blood testing of malaria, tuberculosis, sexual transmitted diseases and other testing services will be referred to other medical centers.

“This sub-health centre was promised K400,000 by the government but that commitment never comes in so we now don’t want that money because the sub-health centre is completed.

“We now request for more positions created for our health workers under the church partnership program so more services can be offered at the hospital,” Fr Arnold added.

 

Hospital to specialise in cancer, MDRT, orthopedics

March 23, 2017 The National

CANCER patients can now seek treatment at the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital in Chimbu. This follows the announcement this week by the Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Michael Malabag on the hospital’s status being elevated from a level five hospital to a level six hospital. Malabag said that the level six hospital would be specialising in cancer, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and orthopedics. He said he was impressed that the hospital has been quietly providing quality health care not only to the people of Chimbu but the Highlands region and other parts of the country for many years.
“I commend the board and management and the staff for providing quality health care to the people.” Hospital acting chief executive officer Dr Harry Poka said that the board of the hospital has already allocated funds to purchase an MRI and CT scan equipment.
Poka said that the staff was prepared to work in line with the Government to accomplish the vision and mission for the people of Chimbu and the country.

 

47,000 HIV infections in PNG concerns UN AIDS agency

24 March 2017

ACCORDING to the United Nations, the latest statistics in Papua New Guinea estimate that almost 47,000 people are infected with HIV in a country whose population is about eight million. UNAIDS’ country director Stuart Watson says that there’s been an increase of 10,000 of people with HIV in the past two years. “In 2015 we estimated that the prevalence in the population was 0.7%. Just last week we completed the most recent estimations and projections for the epidemic in Papua New Guinea and we’re now at 0.91%.

So contrary to the trends in many parts of the world, unfortunately in PNG, which has roughly 95% of the epidemic burden in the Pacific region, is trending in the wrong direction. So in PNG, those figures translate into just under 47,000 people living with HIV; roughly 3,000 new infections in the last year, of which nearly a quarter were children and youths. So it’s definitely not a good situation. In the past year we also estimate that roughly 1,500 people died unnecessarily from AIDS-related illnesses in the country.

We’ve had some near and complete stock-outs of anti-retroviral medicines, we’ve had a complete stock-out of rapid-testing kits, many other supplies and commodities in the health system, so it means we’re not able to test people. We’re not getting people on to treatment. Treatment is prevention.

 

Principles of Family Law in Papua New Guinea: a reflective review

By Michelle Nayahamui Rooney on March 3, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/principles-family-law-papua-new-guinea-reflective-review-20170303/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4d1188feb7-Devpolicy+News+March+10+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4d1188feb7-227683090

First published by the University of PNG Press in 1985 with a second edition published in 1994, this book remains important foundational reading for anyone interested in issues of social safety, and family and intimate partner violence in PNG. With new laws passed in recent years to address family violence (Family Protect Act 2013) and other family issues such as the rights of children (Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act 2009 [amended in 2014]), this book also provides a baseline for understanding the historical and social context for the transformation of family law in PNG.

This is an important book that needs to be updated and complemented with further publications based on more recent developments in family law in PNG. This is important because of the persistence of gender inequality and violence against women, and the pace of social change occurring in PNG. Furthermore, given that new laws have been introduced, a new publication should emulate the approach of this book to present a nuanced discussion of the outcomes, unintended consequences and inconsistencies in new legislation. For example, two questions that arise include: How are recent laws like the Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act and the Family Protection Act being implemented in the context of PNG? How will the pikinini courts (children’s courts) envisaged under the Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act interface with the existing and prevalent village courts?

Another major positive development in PNG in recent years has been the establishment of services such as women’s refuge centres, case management centres and Family Sexual Violence Support Centres in police stations to support families and victims of violence. The experiences of these service providers are an important part of understanding how laws are implemented in PNG. For example, how do local customs determine the provision of services and the outcomes for families, children, and victims of violence? What are the unintended outcomes for children, women, and families? How do these all overlap or come into conflict with the Customs Recognition Act? Without an analysis of concrete case studies these questions will be difficult to answer.

Owen Jessep and John Luluaki. 1994. Principles of Family Law in Papua New Guinea (2nd ed.) Port Moresby: University of Papua New Guinea Press.

Michelle Rooney is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre.

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Social Concerns Notes – February 2017

Call for govt to clear confusion on school fees
Post Courier, February 08, 2017

INADEQUATE funding from day to day management of Catholic Agency schools had been brought to the attention of the Government last year. The National Catholic Education Board chairman Fr Paul Jennings said this yesterday. “These facts were pointed out to the Prime Minister, Education Minister and Education secretary in a letter from the Catholic Bishops Heads of Catholic Agency schools in July last year,” Fr Paul said. He said Peter O’Neill had directed the Education Minister Nick Kuman and secretary Dr Uke Kombra to respond to the Bishops’ concerns. “So far there has been no response,” he said. Fr Paul said that such disregard for the Catholic Bishops and Education agencies which they lead and educates more than 25 per cent of children, was one reason for going public.

The National Catholic Education Board has taken out paid advertisement in the newspapers this week to clarify its stand on current confusion about school fees. “It’s about finding the best legal way to educate our children,” he said. “There are several underlying issues which we believe the general public needs to understand in the current confusion about school fees.”

 

‘Manus does not need a brothel’
Post Courier, February 06, 2017

MANUS provincial police commander Senior Inspector David Yapu is concerned about a local landowner suggesting the establishment of a brothel on Manus Island. A brothel is a place where people may come to engage in sexual activity with a prostitute, sometimes referred to as a sex worker. Mr Yapu said it will be illegal and also against Papua New Guinea’s Christian principles. “The brothel will become an issue affecting our traditional family morals and values with young girls and mothers servicing those asylum seekers for the sake of easy money,” Snr Inspector Yapu said. He admitted being aware of asylum seekers engaging local youths to buy home brew for them, however, he said he had not received any reports of local youths soliciting young girls for sexual favors with asylum seekers. “This is news to me. I have not received any such reports,” Snr Insp Yapu said.

He said the asylum seekers outnumber the local police with a total of 911 at the Manus regional processing centre at Lombrum while there are 68 refugees at the East Lorengau transit centre. “We only have 55 police personal in Manus and should there be any unrest or riot, the police will be out-numbered,”

 

Movement of asylum seekers in Manus now a concern: Yapu
Post Courier, February 08, 2017

MANUS police commander Senior Inspector David Yapu is seriously concerned about the movement of the asylum-seekers in the province. He said since the Supreme Court ruled that the refugee centre is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional it has given them the freedom to move around including beyond the town boundaries into villages and outer islands. “I am concerned about their safety and the consequences that may arise if the asylum seekers are assaulted, injured or killed. “We are seeking 15 new police recruits from the Police College at Bomana to beef up manpower on the island province,” he said. He said accommodation for the new recruits was being arranged with PNG Immigration Department at the centre. Mr Yapu said that 39 cases were reported to police last year involving asylum seekers and refugees in consumption of homebrew, drugs, possession of pornographic materials, disorderly and resisting police arrest. “The court has convicted those found guilty in a form of fine, others were cautioned and discharged, while some cases were struck out because of lack of evidence,” he said. Mr Yapu said PNG Immigration officers were responsible for the movements of the asylum seekers, but they are currently under staffed. “The general feeling among the public is the movement of refugees and especially at night which is not safe and they should be back in camp by 6pm. “The police have conducted awareness for the asylum seekers to respect the locals and the laws of PNG. But it seems to have fallen on deaf ears and social problems are now an issue with local police and the asylum seekers,” Mr Yapu said.

 

Manam settlers facing problems

February 14, 2017 The National

ABOUT 15,000 Manam Islanders who are living in care centres are faced with land problems, according to Manam Resettlement Project caretaker Paul Akuram. The islanders were evacuated from Manam when the volcano erupted in Dec 2004 and Feb 2005. Akuram said the people were currently living in the Asuramba and Topsdam care centres in Bogia and the Nangen care centre in Sumkar.
He said 3000 Baliau villagers who had been living in the Bon Kelawa care centre in Bogia returned to Manam in 2009. Akuram said they were facing a lot of problems. “Shortage of land, the land they are using now is useless because they use the same land over the last 12 years,” he told The National yesterday. He said they also faced food and water problems, run-down schools and health facilities.
Akuram said the people could not afford school fees because they did not have cash crops or ways to earn an income. “They can’t afford school fees at all levels from primary to secondary to tertiary institutions,” Akuram said. He said the food supply from the Government and donors had stopped after six months when they moved in and they had been surviving on their own. “They plant taro, banana and other food crops on the land given to them by land owners but they had confrontations with land owners and fight with them sometimes,” Akuram said.

 

Red Cross kits sent to Enga

February 13, 2017 The National

THE International Committee of the Red Cross has carried out its first distribution of relief items at Pilikambi LLG in Enga last week. The items issued are essential tools to hundreds of families displaced by tribal fighting. A total of 757 kits were distributed to 527 households from the three clans (Talyul, Sikir and Andati) that were involved in a recent tribal fight that lasted almost six months and saw more than 500 houses burned and 20 lives lost. Each kit also contained a set of tools intended to help families rebuild their homes. Head of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Mt Hagen, Kakhaber Khasaia, said he was delighted with the success of the operation, which was carried out with the help of the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society. “We spent almost five months in preparation, which resulted in a very good distribution,” he said. The ICRC, which is working to protect and assist victims of tribal fights in the Highlands, began operations in Enga in Sept last year.
The distribution is one of the largest the Geneva-based humanitarian organisation has carried out in PNG. The ICRC’s mandate is to protect and assist victims of armed conflict. In PNG, it provides assistance to victims of tribal fights in Southern Highlands, Hela and Enga. It also provides first aid training in areas affected by fighting and works to ensure people in these zones have access to health care and clean water.

 

Tuition fee free policy leads to disengagement with schools

08 February 2017. http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/tuition-fee-free-policy-leads-to-disengagement-with-schools.html

THERE are differing views among parents and teachers about Papua New Guinea’s tuition fee free policy. The government’s policy is well-intended and should be seen as heavily subsidising tuition fees, which does leave some responsibility for tuition fees with the parents. But this is not the case now. The government wants to pay full fees and has told parents to ensure this direction is complied with by schools. Since its inception the tuition fee free policy has placed schools under stress. Some of the best schools in the country, which were held in high esteem, are no longer excellent as a result of the policy. Schools are struggling and deteriorating rapidly in all aspects. It’s a shambles. School management and boards are confused on how they can reinstate them to effectiveness. The policy, as you might expect, saw an influx in student enrolment. Some schools thought that hosting high student numbers would increase allocated funds. But the fund was never enough to expand the required infrastructure development in schools. In some schools, students spill out of classrooms built two decades ago to hold 30 pupils and now forced to accommodate 60. Realising this predicament, schools decided to charge ‘project fees’ to address the infrastructure shortage – and now the government is telling schools to stop this. The incredible message is that schools should shut up and keep enrolling students without considering infrastructure.

Some parents, not wanting to pay any charges, have aggressively supported the government in creating what is a chaotic school environment. Removing parental responsibility for children’s fees also disengages parents from participating in the development of their children and their school.

The outcome – when parents see children’s education and infrastructure deteriorating, they will remain quiet because they do not have a hand in the schooling process.

In a highly illiterate society like ours, the people do not clearly understand the relationship between themselves as taxpayers and the government. The school authority controls the cheque book and commits schools to spending – scrupulous or unscrupulous. What used to be checks and balances on school expenditure at the weekly parents and citizens day are no more. Some schools incur more debts than the tuition fee free policy allows. Blame is externalised – often on a former principal or head teacher. It seems there is no way of stopping such shady practices or of holding the culprits accountable. Most teachers are quiet on this. A few of them share the loot between themselves and are always looking for the next opportunity. The whole area of this policy needs to be reconsidered and some responsibility for tuition fees thrown back at parents who, with their money at stake, are likely to engage more with their schools and teachers.

 

People make selves crazy by cannabis abuse, says drug dealer

13 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/people-make-selves-crazy-by-cannabis-abuse-says-drug-dealer.html#more

IN Papua New Guinea, it is illegal to cultivate, groom, store, consume and trade marijuana. Marijuana, or cannabis, is the main illegal drug produced and consumed in large amounts in PNG. It is cultivated for private use and for sale locally and overseas. Reports suggest it is also bartered for weapons.

Medical research show the effects of smoking marijuana fade quickly, but the drug can be detected in the body for weeks, sometimes longer. It depends on how often it is used or how much the user has consumed. The most common effect upon a user is that, as a result of prolonged use, it alters the mind.

A user for over 45 years, who requested anonymity when I was writing this article, supported the results of medical research. He said the effects are real and that it has affected a lot of lives of PNG users. However, he argued that whether a person becomes affected mentally depends on the person themselves and the way they use marijuana. He added that young people should stop smoking cannabis because their bodies and minds are developing and have not reached maturity. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse in the USA, the brain of young people continues developing until they reach their mid-20’s. Thus the consumption of marijuana at an early age can have damaging effects on the teenager’s ability to progress normally. Cannabis abuse can also affect a teenager’s emotional development, education and social interaction. The drug user I spoke to also said he has seen people who smoke marijuana show signs of psychosis or wild mood swings which have affected their lives and their families.

 

It’s Friday night, & Port Moresby General has no bandages

20 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/its-friday-night-port-moresby-general-has-no-bandages.html#more

THERE was something of a crisis at the Port Moresby General Hospital early last Friday night.

The weekend had arrived – not to mention the onset of the usual Friday night procession of smashes, clashes and crashes – and Dr Sam Yockopua, the hospital’s chief of emergency medicine and a 18-year public health veteran – was alarmed. So alarmed, in fact, that he took to Facebook with a public appeal for help. “SOS call for kind donations,” he wrote. “As at 6:35pm, after supervision of the pm shift work, at POM Gen Emergency Department; we have none of the following….” And there followed a rendition of some of the most basic hospital necessities including face masks, gloves (“last box left!” wrote Dr Yockopua), alcohol swabs, urine bags, cervical collars, plasters, bandages, nebulizer cups, glucostrips, ECG/defib gel, ECG dots, 16. phenytoin iv, crepe bandages – and there was more. “Friday night chaos is anticipated,” Dr Yockomua continued, “and we know we are not ready and will not give our best. We do, however, have solid manpower. “Inbox me or simply drop by at PMGH ED and offer anything you can. Help save lives. God bless you.” This is more dire than “praise the lord and pass the ammunition”. It’s more like “go to the medicine drawer and bring me what you’ve got”.

Facebook reader Sally Proctor commented on Dr Yockomua’s cry for help: “The national referral hospital shouldn’t have to rely on donations. This is unacceptable. Where is the health minister and his secretary?” Good sentiments and a pertinent question. And corruption fighting lawyer Sam Koim, who drew my attention to this dreadful predicament, commented simply, “Frightening!” It’s an outrage. You can only hope that such total dereliction of duty by the responsible politicians and bureaucrats led to no avoidable deaths. But, whatever the outcome in human lives, it must have resulted in a desperately turbulent and trying weekend at PMGH emergency for staff and their patients.

 

POM Gen CEO refutes claims
Post Courier, February 21, 2017

PORT Moresby General Hospital chief executive officer Dr Umesh Gupta says the country’s biggest referral hospital has not run out of specific medical consumables. He was responding to a doctor who had sent out an urgent help for donation for certain consumables that were needed at Port Moresby General Hospital accidents and emergency department. Meanwhile, Dr Gupta said like all public hospitals, Port Moresby Hospital runs out of medical drugs and consumables, but whenever the area medical store in the national capital runs out of medical supply, the hospital procures elsewhere under its operational budget. He added that there are specific consumables not available in the country but the hospital makes available alternatives. He assured the public that the hospital was currently stocked. “The hospital is doing what it can,” Dr Gupta added.

 

PNG has lost the power to pay its bills as cash runs out

18 February 2017. http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/png-has-lost-the-power-to-pay-its-bills-as-cash-runs-out.html#more Rowan Callick in The Australian

ELECTRICITY supplies to Papua New Guinea’s parliament house, the national police headquarters, and government house have been disconnected for non-payment of bills. PNG Power Ltd — the country’s monopoly, state-owned company responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution and retail of electricity — said these institutions owe it about $450,000. The bills have not been paid since last November. The institutions have been closed since they were disconnected on Tuesday, leaving them without lighting, air-conditioning and telecommunications. The parliament building has its own standby generator — as do many private businesses in PNG, since PNG Power’s supply is often disrupted by blackouts. But the acting clerk of the parliament, Kala Aufa, told the Post-Courier newspaper that the building lacked a store of fuel for its generator, and so he had to make such an order before this alternative source of power could be switched on. Mr Aufa conceded that the parliament owed PPL $245,000, but said the payment of utilities had become centralised by the Finance Department, which took over that responsibility for all state agencies at the start of the year.

“We just get the bills and give it to them,” he said. He expressed concern that the parliament might also find its telecommunications and water services discontinued, if those bills were not settled.

 

Women get it – walk to equality must be a joint project with men

02 February 2017

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/women-have-it-right-walk-to-equality-must-be-a-joint-project-with-men.html

Her Excellency Ms Winnie Kiap has been High Commissioner for Papua New Guinea in the United Kingdom since 2011. Ms Kiap is also chair of the Commonwealth Secretariat Board of Governors. She was previously secretary to the PNG National Executive Council. Her earlier career was in PNG’s Department of Trade and Industry and Investment Promotion Authority.

My Walk to Equality, edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell, Pukpuk Publications, 278 pages. Paperback $US10.53 or Kindle $US1.00. ISBN-10: 1542429242. ISBN-13: 978-1542429245. Available here from Amazon through Pukpuk Publications

THESE stories give me a sense of exhilaration as well as respect for these women writers and poets.

This group of mostly young writers has the courage to use literature as a means to participate in the conversation on a topic important not only in Papua New Guinea but around the globe.

[See the above url for the full review of several pages]

 

Buimo Jail overcrowded
Post Courier, February 16, 2017

AUTHORITIES from the Correctional Services Buimo jail in Lae have raised concerns of overcrowding at the prison compounds. There are currently 860 prisoners at the facility which has a holding capacity for only 400 inmates. Jail commander Felix Namane said on Tuesday that the overcrowding situation posed a huge health risk to the prisoners and has tripled its monthly spending on prisoners’ rations. Mr Namane also said they had already spent three times over the usual budget on monthly rations, now between K160-170,000 per month. He said there is an urgent need for more infrastructure to accommodate increasing prisoner numbers which is being compounded by the delay in prisoners’ court cases.

Mr Namane said the courts are separate bodies, but is appealing for them to fast track the cases to help address overcrowding at the jail. “The women’s cells are ok but the men’s are overcrowded,” he said.

Mr Namane suggested the courts put some of the prisoners out on bail and wants the Public Solicitor’s Office to consider the inmates’ bail applications.

 

Baisu inmates face starvation
Post Courier, February 22, 2017

Prisoners at the Baisu jail in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province, have been without food for the past five days. The company contracted to supply food ration to the jail stopped its operation over non-payment of services by the Correctional Services (CS). This was confirmed yesterday by the Baisu jail commander Timbi Kaugla. Mr Kaugla said the supplier discontinued its service on Friday, February 17, but the jail managed to use its own funds to buy food for the prisoners until Monday. “We were able to cater for food for the prisoners last weekend but we fell short as of Monday and the prisoners have been without food,” he said. But a senior warder at Baisu, who requested anony­mity, gave a different story, saying the prisoners, numbering more than 170, had been without food since the weekend. “The prisoners were fed with biscuits at the weekend and some of us concerned officers decided to contribute money from our own pockets to go to the market and buy kaukau (sweet potato) for the prisoners,” the officer said. He said the situation required immediate attention from the CS management. Several attempts to get comments from the Correc­tional Services Commissioner Michael Waipo since Monday were unsuccessful. The Correctional Services media unit could not comment because it had not been briefed about the Baisu jail food shortage. Berry Maip, who is the managing director of Whisky Fresh Ltd which supplies food rations to the Baisu prison, said yesterday when contacted that he stopped the food supplies due to non-payment of his services. “My company was not paid for three months – from December to February. How can I go on supplying rations when I am not paid for my services.” He said he needed funds to run his company operations and he could no longer sustain it when payments were not forthcoming.

 

At home with my Melanesian values; no matter where I am

17 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/at-home-with-my-melanesian-values-no-matter-where-i-am.html#more

AS we do in today’s dynamic employment environment, I recently updated my professional profile or curriculum vitae (CV). Having gone through this exercise, I realised that I’d omitted a major part of my life. Like with most people, my CV emphasised the educational institutions I’d attended, the positions I’d held, my career successes and influential people I’d crossed paths with. It focused on the learning, skills and qualifications an employer might be interested in. It captured what I can do and how I do it. But it was void on the matters of who I am and why I do the things I do. The parts I had left out were the experiences that formed the basis for who I am. They were from the stage in my life that I walked rough tracks to fetch water for the family, shepherded pigs, chopped pandanus nuts 30 feet up with one hand (and no safety harness), climbed rocky peaks with the skill of a mountain goat, and hunted and trapped cuscus. I walked through tropical rain forest in pitch darkness relying on the moon and stars and identified each bird by sound, not sight. When the elders wanted to speak, we youngsters gave up our seats, kept quiet and did not engage in argument even if they were wrong.

These experiences have little value to a prospective employer in today’s economy. Even if I explained them, the listener would not understand their relevance. I am at a stage in life where I am reasonably comfortable placing value on these latter qualities. Like many Papua New Guineans, my life has been a journey from a mountain home across a social divide of religion, race, culture, and hierarchy.

My childhood experiences are embedded in me and I feel comfortable sitting with friends cross-legged around a fireplace in my village or inside a modern work environment in a country far away.

Even if others don’t share my experiences, I embrace them. They represent a unique, enjoyable, once in a lifetime opportunity which can never be replicated. I am comfortable with what I do based on the strength I draw from my Melanesian values.I am at peace with myself. It takes time and a measure of self-acceptance to reach such point.

 

 

Women scared of approaching police for help

February 22, 2017 The National

SOME women in Madang are scared of lodging complaints with police following the alleged sexual assault of a woman at the station. The issue was discussed by a committee, for change and progress in law and order, made up of representatives from non-government organisations including women groups. Chairman of the civil society organisation at the Madang government Andrew Mapio said women were now scared of approaching police officers for help because of the alleged rape by two officers two weeks ago at the town police station. “I have told my daughters: If you have problems with your husbands, don’t go directly to police. Come to daddy and I’ll take it to the police myself,” he said Women representative Angela Bugata said most women were now scared to approach police with their problems. Mapio said police officers had been implicated in criminal activities including brutality and were viewed as the enemy of the public. He said the civil society organisation had planned a protest march against the police for the various cases against them. Bugata said the proposed new mobile squad for Madang should comprise members of established mobile squads in the country and exclude any new recruits. She said Madang needed police officers to effectively carry out real police duties and not instill fear amongst the people.

 

Special ‘lease’ exploitation leads Malmal without land & bereft

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/special-lease-exploitation-leads-malmal-bereft-without-land.html#more

THE Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) practice is having a direct impact on the environment and cultural values, says customary landowner Anna Sipona. Anna comes from Malmal village in East New Britain Province where logging has exploited the environment. She explained that their forest has disappeared under SABL and the people in her village live as if they don’t own land.

The land in Malmal is under a 99-year lease agreement and the people have been told by the developers that their land is now state land. Sipona highlighted that drinking water and fresh water creeks have been contaminated because there are no buffer zones to protect them. “In reality, what was once our land, we now feel that we are settlers on a land that is no longer ours. “Our right to life has been severed and our way of surviving has been destroyed and we are no longer benefiting from the land as someone else holds the title “Our land has been acquired in the name of development, however we cannot see any development happening instead there is displacement of villages, destruction of forests and food gardens and destroying of cultural values,” she said.

Promises by prime minister Peter O’Neill since June 2013 to cancel the leases, stop illegal logging and return the land to its rightful owners, recommended by a Commission of Inquiry, have never been honoured.

 

Itching for money, gold digger parents compromise their daughters

13 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/itching-for-money-gold-digger-parents-compromise-their-daughters.html#more

IN this modern era, most parents discharge their parental duties with diligence and aspire that their children complete school and craft a career in life. But conversely, some mothers chew tons of betel nut, smoke like highlands fires and gamble the family’s savings to deficit. And some fathers fall for the lure of sex workers, fleecing their mates, drink their heads off and leave nothing behind in the trough of life. In fact, it does seem that many parents sit on their backsides and care little about giving their children a decent formal education. It’s an attitude that leaves their sons at the mercy of whimsical government policy while they coerce their daughters to forage for men with money.

These indecorous parents forbid their daughters to court village boys because they think villagers lack money and will not build a decent future. “If you marry these village boys you will carry loads on your heads and walk the long tracks to and from the gardens,” they say. “Your hair will wane and fall. Open your eyes and marry men with money and shop with Save Card, cook with electricity and sleep with a stash of cash.” Anyhow, the real motive for such sermons is about parental gold digging using their daughters as a bridge to economic capital. Such parents are misfits who cannot cope with toiling the land like the other hardworking village folk.

 

One such senseless couple sold their 15-year old daughter in marriage to a tycoon from an economic enclave. Dessy, the couple’s first daughter was in her twenties and the boys trembled to ask for her mobile number, or what we call ‘like’. Ailana, the second daughter was only 15 but had already surpassed Dessy in terms of sheer beauty. If Ailana was given a decent education and a few more years, the mere sight of her would make boys skip heartbeats. But when the parents saw how beautiful their daughters had grown, they started talks with a tycoon for an upfront dowry in order to be given Dessy in marriage. From then on, the father received cash from the tycoon and consumed unending crates of beer in town. Word reached Dessy of the imminent plans for her to marry the tycoon. In the dusk of night she packed her clothes and ran off to her village boyfriend, vowing never to return.

When news of Dessy’s village marriage reached her parents, they feared the tycoon’s reaction and agreed that Ailana would take her sister’s place. However, Ailana refused. The tycoon was much older than Ailana’s father and had many wives. Being heavily indebted, the parents coerced and demanded Ailana take heed and enter the marriage regardless of what she planned for her life. The stunning Ailana, a girl village boys yearned to hear sing in church and referred to as the Empress of Alimapara, was to marry a stranger. Before she was led to the waiting five-door Toyota LandCruiser, she pulled a small girl to the side and muttered something in her ear to be passed to Ailana’s village boyfriend.

The boyfriend collapsed when he returned from a village rugby league game that afternoon and got the message from the small girl. His peers gathered around and consoled him. As Ailana’s parents still feasted on the dowry, news reached them that Ailana – taken away into a far-off land – had been attacked and bashed by the tycoon’s meri-brua (co-wives) who had chopped off her long hair.

A few months later Ailana rang home, sobbed and told her mother that she had been sold into slavery and constantly lived in fear of being slashed and killed. “You can’t return because you have married a ‘money man’ and he paid a massive dowry,” the mother replied. “Besides, you have to repay me for begetting you so stay put.” A couple of years passed and recently Ailana returned to Alimapara but she was not the girl the villagers knew and referred to as Empress. She was frail and ill. The symptoms looked obvious, so she was told to do an HIV antibody test and the result was positive. The parents then cooked up a reason and told of how Ailana had married a tycoon and jealous village folk had performed black magic on her. The couple refused to heed the medical result. The witch doctors received a stash of cash. They narrated a feel good sermon to the gullible parents. But fortunately Ailana was identified as requiring treatment. However, she has suffered permanent harm to her health and has been placed on anti-retroviral treatment for the rest of her life. Whatever the witch doctors and the parents cooked up won’t help her. The gold digging parents have abused human rights and inflicted enduring pain on Ailana, her village boyfriend and Dessy. We all know there is a better way than this.

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2017

A love letter to PNG, where it was my destiny to be born

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/01/a-love-letter-to-png-where-it-was-my-destiny-to-be-born.html#more  by Emma Wakpi

MY motherland, I am writing this letter on the eve of Christmas to let you know how much I love and appreciate you. This time of the year reminds us of what we should be thankful for and of what love is really all about.Often times we argue so much about what is wrong and right and how it’s supposed to be done nowadays but at the end of the day, you are family, you give me my identity and I find my comfort in your coarse gruffness which conceals a heart so fiercely loyal to me.

At times I pine for things other nations can offer their children and am ashamed to admit that in my youth I’ve oft rued the fact that destiny saw fit to make me a Papua New Guinean.

But as I have grown and experienced what life has had to offer – as opportunities have allowed me to visit other countries and cultures; I have discovered that no one is perfect and even the most ideal of situations have their faults. Looking back I realise the privilege of growing up as a Papua New Guinean and the unique traits that helped create my identity.

Nowhere else on earth can I find a family so diverse and realise the feat it takes to congregate hundreds of nations into the single entity known as PNG and to keep it functioning.individual identities are not smothered but like jigsaw puzzles are being pieced together to complete a picture. How this picture will turn out, only God knows. ….. [See the url above for the complete article….]

 

2016 saw a lot of achievements in combating Gender Based Violence
Post Courier, December 31, 2016

SOME of the greatest achievements in getting gender based violence to zero tolerance by 2050 have happened this year  (2016) alone. Despite the argument that gender-based violence is prevalent in the country and a growing epidemic, collaborative and extensive efforts by many stakeholders to address this issue continues to grow. This year has seen some fruits of the hard work from the Youth, Religion and Community Development (implementing department), Department of Justice and Attorney General, UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, Family Sexual Violence Action Committee, academia, faith-based organisations and other relevant Non- Government Organisations.

Only recently the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence (2016 -2025) was approved by Cabinet last Thursday. It aims to strengthen and institutionalise the work on GBV in order to achieve zero-tolerance towards GBV as per Papua New Guinea’s Vision 2050.

The strategy captures four key objectives;

  • To ensure long-term ongoing high level national and sub- national government commitment and accountability to end GBV aligned with the PNG Development Plan, Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 and with the Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030.
  • To standardise and institutionalise data collection, and facilitate ongoing in-depth research to support evidence based planning, budgeting and programming to end gender based violence.
  • To ensure quality, continuity and sustainability of coordinated responses, referrals and service delivery for survivors of gender based violence, and
  • To scale-up, decentralise, and standardise inclusive, quality initiatives and messaging for prevention of gender based violence at all levels and in all sectors of society.

Mid this year, Parliament passed the Lukautim Pikinini Act. This act ensures children are protected and have access to their rights. It also emphasises parental responsibility and duty to maintain a child.

This law states that ‘all children have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, neglect and maltreatment and have access to equal opportunity and access to education’.

Addressing the scourge of gender based violence is a communal, clan, family, national, social and individual responsibility. When everyone plays their roles in ensuring the policies are implemented, gender based violence can be reported and addressed.

 

Agnes has a heart to serve

January 9, 2017 The National

BEING a true Christian does mean one is present in church every Sunday for service but to practice the teachings of the Bible. This is what charity worker Agnes Haro Harihi was told when she was growing up in Leseoalai village in the Malalaua district of Gulf province. Her Catholic upbringing hatched in her the love and patience to help others. For 12 years she dedicated her time, resources and heart to serving her people in the remote villages of Malalaua. She brings with her a team of dedicated and committed women who share a similar faith as her and youths who also help them. These youths are drop outs who have nothing to do so assisting the mothers keeps them busy. They travel long distances, climb mountains and ride high waves to bring small gifts and the Gospel to share with the villagers.
Each year she makes four to five visits to mostly remote villages in the district not accessible by roads. She has connections with mothers on the ground who assist her along the way.
During their pastoral work her team came across people who desperately need basic government services such as health (access to medical assistance), infrastructure development like roads and bridges. Upon arrival they pray together with the villagers and later have meetings to find out what problems and concerns the people have and have discussions on how to address it.

Deserted health centres were not the only thing they came across; there were also schools with empty classrooms and play grounds. They believe the teachers left because life was difficult for them or because of landowner issues. Some school children of Lakekamu, another remote community in Malalawa, use the ground as books and they write on the dirt using sticks as pens and pencils.
Agnes and her team wish for government and relevant authorities to help these children so they can have access to education resources just like other children in the country…..

 

Kuvi: Citizens have right to privacy
Post Courier, January 12,2017, 02:58 am

CITIZENS have the right to resist raids if the police personnel show up at their doorsteps without search warrants. Magistrate Laura Kuvi emphasised this yesterday when a defendant told the Boroko District Court that such was her situation but she allowed policemen to enter her home “because they were policemen.” On December 22, they told Medii Morehari, 23 of Lese in Gulf Province that they were looking for several male suspects so she allowed them access to her parents’ house at Taurama Bay. Inside, they confiscated eight 330ml containers of steam and charged her with being in possession of illicit spirit and later released her on a K500 bail.

According to Magistrate Kuvi, this also is wrong. A search warrant should state items that are expected to be found, and if a search produces other illegal items, it is not to be confiscated.

Instead, another search warrant should be taken out for that. Magistrate Kuvi said unless there was an immediate pursuit or search warrant, citizens have the right to deny police access to their properties. This is a constitutional right. “Broken english, spelling errors, no warrants. What are we teaching them up at Bomana?”

 

Manus Island refugee who had mental breakdown found ‘hungry and homeless’
Post Courier, January 11,2017

Behaviour of Hamed, who has been released from Lorengau prison following an acute mental health episode, described as erratic and bizarre. Hamed’s deteriorating mental health came to authorities’ attention as long ago as June, when he was found wandering the detention centre, distressed, naked and screaming incoherently. He was put into “managed accommodation” where he was allegedly assaulted by, and assaulted, guards, before being put in the Lorengau jail for the first time. Leaked “psychological support” files from within the Manus Island detention centre refer consistently to Hamed’s “chaotic presentation” and report he was “agitated, aggressive, verbally abusive, pushing boundaries constantly, and has required police presence on numerous occasions”. He has since been jailed several times after suffering severe mental episodes and behaving unpredictably or aggressively. Detention centre staff have told Guardian Australia Hamed is “a very sick man. He needs serious help”. Manus MP Ron Knight, who arranged for Hamed to be released from prison so he could access mental health care, said he was receiving none. “To be blunt, the guy is dangerous to all around him and he needs psychiatric help. There is none for him here.” Knight said he approached the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby about Hamed being committed to a psychiatric facility. “The response to me was basically that our authorities should handle it.” A spokesman for Australia’s department of immigration and border protection said Hamed was housed at the East Lorengau refugee transit centre, and his care was the responsibility of PNG’s immigration authorities.

The political solutions to the crisis may be complex, but that does not mean we should abandon our humanity

 

The beginning of the end of “free education” in PNG?

http://devpolicy.org/beginning-end-free-education-png-20170112/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4c875d7a8d-Devpolicy_News__Jan_13_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4c875d7a8d-227683090

The government has done its best to protect its flagship Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy during the current fiscal crunch in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Despite substantial funding cuts to many core government services in recent years, government funding of around 600 million kina for the TFF policy has been maintained in the 2017 budget at much the same level (in nominal terms) since its introduction in 2012. But there is a difference between budget allocations and actual release of government funds in a timely matter, as is becoming increasingly apparent in PNG.

Cash flow problems have meant that salary payments to public servants have been late, teacher holiday leave fares unpaid, road funding delayed, and payments of MP funds delayed. TFF payments to schools have not been immune; for example the Department of Treasury only released the warrants for the release of the last quarterly TFF payment of 2016 in December, only days before the end of the school year. The problem is that schools in PNG have been directed by the National Department of Education (NDoE) to not charge school fees, and so delayed TFF payments to schools have resulted in reports of schools closing and students sent home.

In May 2016, one of us – Grant – witnessed the impacts of problems with school funding first hand in Central province. On the way back from fieldwork in Gulf province, he and other researchers came across a throng of young people clutching bags and slowly walking along the Hiritano highway, which links Port Moresby to the capital of Gulf province, Kerema (see photo above). In response to questions about why they weren’t in school, students said that their teachers had sent them home to collect money for school fees from their parents. Students in lower secondary school were asked to bring back 50 kina, and those in higher grades were to return with 100 kina. According to the students, the school had run out of money; this, it was suggested, was likely due to late payment and poor management of TFF subsidies.

There is some dispute about the ability of provinces to themselves set school fees independent from the national government. A letter contesting NDoE’s ban on any imposition of schools fees was published in the Post-Courier newspaper by the Catholic Church in May this year. The letter – addressed to the prime minister and signed by the President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of PNG, Bishop Arnold Orowae – argued that NDoE’s order transgressed the national Education Act, and Provincial Education Acts in the 13 provinces where these are in place.

The TFF policy’s unravelling would likely impact on post-election wheeling and dealing associated with forming a coalition government. The current TFF policy was a key part of the government’s 2012 Alotau Accord [pdf] (which laid out the priority areas for the new then government), and was a likely (but certainly not the only) factor in current Prime Minister Peter O’Neill securing a strong coalition of MPs to form government in 2012. The TFF policy also helped O’Neill differentiate himself from his predecessor, Sir Michael Somare. If the TFF policy is seen to be failing, this may give MPs one more reason not to back O’Neill to head the government after the 2017 election.

 

College construction delayed due to funding
Post Courier, January 16, 2017

THE Milne Bay Teacher’s College which was supposed to be completed last year has been delayed due to funding issues. According to Bishop of Alotau-Sideia, Rolando Santos, work has ceased on the buildings. Government funding has temporarily stopped since there are no funds left to pay contractors for the completion of the classrooms.Presently, some preliminary work is being done for the provision of water and electricity. The St Mary’s Teachers College project was initially established to provide a teachers college that would serve the people of Milne Bay Province so they would not incur expensive air fares and difficulties associated with living far away from family and community.

The project initially cost about K22million. The Catholic Diocese of Alotau and Milne Bay provincial government entered into a partnership agreement where the Church would provide the land and administer the college while the government would provide the funding.

Bishop Santos said to date the funding received was approximately K4 million from the provincial government and the Church-Government Partnership Program for education.

“With this money we were able to put up a concrete two-storey female dormitory with 50 individual rooms, a two storey concrete building with four classrooms which is 85 per cent complete, do site clearance and put up roads, and pay maintenance and consultancy fees.

 

Slight progress in corruption rate

January 26, 2017The National

PAPUA New Guinea’s ranking in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) – showing the world’s most corrupted nations – has changed from 139 out of 176 countries in 2015 to 136 last year.
According to the CPI, the new ranking indicates that PNG has taken a step forwards in being rated as one of the highly corrupted countries in the world. CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 perceived to be very clean and zero perceived to be highly corrupt. PNG was ranked 136 with a score of 28 out of 100 compared with a score of 25 out of 100 in 2015 during the launch of the CPI by Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) yesterday.
“Countries emerging from wars and civil strife have made great advances in the CPI while PNG remains where it has been for years,” Take the example of Timor Leste in the Asia -Pacific region which had improved by seven points – scoring 28 out of 100 in the 2015 CPI to 35 out of 100 this year. Stephens said TIPNG believed that failure to protect national assets was likely to be one of the reasons PNG was not ranked higher. “The Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) was promised and it has still not been delivered,” he said. “K8 billion from trust funds have gone missing and our government has no sign of any plans to recover it.” Meanwhile, Stephens said that the Government had taken steps to improve PNG’s ranking and promote accountability and transparency in development by recently passing laws to fight money laundering and terrorist-financing activities.

 

Yuri tribe continues peace-building after a history of conflict

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/01/yuri-tribe-continues-peace-building-after-a-history-of-conflict.html#more

A TRIBE in Papua New Guinea is like a nation. The tribe shares common language, territory, history, myths and culture. The people of the Yuri tribe of the Gumine District in Simbu Province, Papua New Guinea, speak Yuri, share the rivers Mon and Maril, walk across the plateaus of Pildimna, Dia and Yoya, and know all the gorges and gullies.

Yuri people share land borders with the Golin, Dom, Era, Bari, Nauro and Kumai tribes of Simbu. The exact number of years the Yuri have occupied this part of the world is unknown. However, Yuri people know they are a warring tribe.

The first tribal war laid a foundation for destruction. Revenge and payback became an accepted way of life in Yuri tribal territory. Homes and gardens were destroyed. Many people were killed. Schools and health centres were forced to close. Roads and bridges fell apart.  Cash crops like coffee became useless due to lack of transport. People walked long hours to reach town. These long walks carrying household goods landed the Yuri a nametag. They might be called ‘white horses’ or ‘back page’.

‘White horse’ was coined because the Yuri people carried white bags on their backs and resembled white horses. ‘Back page’ was a reference to the back page of a book that is last to be read. The nickname referred to the government’s trend of service distribution where the Yuri were the last to be considered – or were neglected altogether. A back page that was never read.

Many Yuri people fled their tribal lands in search of peace, better schools and health care. Some even sought peace in the ghettos and peripheries of urban areas or among other tribes.

The beauty of the rivers, ranges, flora and fauna was disregarded by a tribal people who became disillusioned by their own destructive action and lack of basic services such as roads, bridges schools and health. Law and order was almost non-existent. The churches struggled to hold a bunch of disillusioned people together. The people feared building permanent houses in their villages; their minds were preoccupied with revenge and they did not want to see their houses torched by an enemy clan.

People did not make gardens and young people stole from other people’s gardens. Hard working people were discouraged and disillusioned. Weak and vulnerable members of the community were blamed for the deaths of others. In some instances, Yuri people could not accept that their members were shot dead in a tribal fight and shifted the blame to sorcerers. The number of uneducated people increased. Many people in their thirties and forties had left school never to return. Their children followed the same pattern. A few children attended school in the last 10 years but the schools in Yuri were branded remote and did not attract good teachers. There were many school drop-outs at Grades 10 and 12. These students joined their peers in the village to gamble all day, smoke marijuana, abuse alcohol and often turn to violence; screaming, threatening, using abusive language.

The village authorities lacked the capacity to deal with them. The men’s and women’s houses, that used to provide guidance and counselling for young people  and promote tribal norms and values, ceased to exist. They were replaced with kas (cards) and video houses. The small kids watched movies with their parents and lay on their laps while the parents gambled after the video show. The smoke from rough tobacco rolled around the faces of sleeping children.

It was this destruction, pain and suffering of the Yuri that laid the foundation for the birth of Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA) in 2013. YAKA is committed to promote reconciliation, reuniting, rebuilding and restoring – our 4Rs Yuri. Every Yuri person across space, culture and time has a duty to contribute to this cause. It is about saving their community from the scourge of tribal fighting, fear and disillusion. In the last week of December and on 1 January each year, YAKA initiates activities that promote the 4Rs and celebrates its anniversary.

 

House tax moves in
January 27,2017, 01:13 am

THE PNG Trade Union Congress has now joined in expressing serious concerns on the new housing tax which will come into effect next fortnight. The new taxation measures was supposed to be effected as of January 1, but most companies got the notification from the Internal Revenue Commission on January 20 and will take effect next pay day, which is next week. Hundreds of working class Papua New Guineans living in company-provided housing could lose up to two-thirds of their fortnightly salary. This is because the rent value of the employer-supplied accommodation will be included with the actual salary component. So, if a worker earns K600 a fortnight and lives in accommodation valued at K700 a week in any of the country’s larger cities like Port Moresby, Lae or Goroka, for example, the worker will be taxed on the sum K2000 (total benefits of K600+K1400) – even though he or she does not actually receive the extra K700 in cash every week. PNGTUC general secretary John Paska said it was unfair. He said the Government had failed to provide housing for workers and is now passing the cost to private sector provided housing.

“It cuts deeply into the savings ability of workers. The housing tax is not well thought out or calculated” He said all revenue measures place a burden on workers’ pay which trigger off a ripple effect that force on claims for wage rise, industrial action of wage claims are not settled, disruption to services and a hike in prices of goods and services. “The cruel irony to all of this is that, the state and much of the private sector have absolved themselves from providing homes to employees and they want to tax workers living in homes.”

 

PNG in 2017: a year of redefining democracy?

By Bal Kama on January 27, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/png-2017-year-redefining-democracy-20170127/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=62adf571b5-

The Papua New Guinea national elections, due in June this year, promise to be momentous. Like many democracies, the people have always looked forward to the opportunity of choosing their political leaders through a process of free and fair elections. But elections in PNG over the years have fallen short of this ideal standard. Those who believe in this ideal demand an election based on policy-driven ideological contests, rather than material wealth and tribal allegiances that often create disharmony.

Yet these latter practices have increasingly been part of PNG’s political system, rendering the notion of trouble-free democratic elections a facade. But controversies surrounding the electoral system are not unique to PNG. Many countries, including the established democracies as demonstrated in the recent US elections, face similar challenges.

Some challenges for the PNG Electoral Commission

The PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC) has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks for some of its decisions. For instance, its recommendation for changes to electoral laws that sought to increase the 2017 candidate nomination fee from K1,000 ($450) to K10,000 ($4500) has raised concern among potential candidates. A primary reason for this proposed law is to offset the high cost of running elections. PNG is known for having one of the most expensive elections in the world.

However, the proposed law may be argued as unconstitutional on the basis that the increase in the nomination fee is unreasonably excessive and suppressive of the constitutionally guaranteed right of ordinary citizens to stand for public office. A fee of K5,000 may be more reasonable.

The Electoral Commissioner’s decision to print the ballot papers in Indonesia also warrants scrutiny. It is the first time electoral ballot papers are fully outsourced to private companies overseas. The Commissioner argued that PNG Government printery is nearly three times more expensive when compared to the costs in Indonesia.

But the Commission’s cost saving measure is open to risks. There are concerns of electoral fraud such as printing of extra ballot papers. The government printery is not immune to this concern as it has been an issue observed in previous elections but the use of private companies overseas, and away from public view, may heighten the risk.

Stability, community awareness and social media

The call out of police and defence force personnel to curb tribal fights in the resource-rich Hela Province at the beginning of this month indicate the kinds of challenges law enforcement officers may face more of this election year. With the suspension of police recruitment in 2017, apparently due to funding issues, there could possibly be a strain on law enforcement officers during the election period.

Public activism and protests marred much of 2016. While the O’Neill government is commended in some quarters for leading development in areas like mining and resource exploration, building infrastructure and organising international sporting events, it is mostly criticised for significant setbacks in the economy through over spending and maintaining a deficit budget, and a lack of respect for rule of law.

The bloody protests of 2016 exemplified the growing discontent. Whether this will lead voters in the coming election to oust O’Neill’s People’s National Congress party (PNC) is yet to be revealed. But if history is anything to go by, both the Somare and Mekere governments, under similar spotlight, lost power after the 2011-2012 impasse and the 2001 shooting of university students respectively.

The new cybercrime legislation comes into effect this year. It will be interesting to see how this is enforced against PNG’s active social media community whose activities will mostly likely intensify during the election period. Depending on how this law is enforced, its compatibility with the constitutional right to freedom of speech may be a subject of future court proceedings.

Voting

Traditionally, tribal allegiances often played a critical role in deciding voters’ preferences. People align with a candidate in their own tribe or clan despite the candidate lacking meaningful leadership qualities to successfully represent them in parliament. This was predominant during the ‘first past the post’ system where a voter has only one preference.

However, the introduction of preferential voting in 2007 saw a shift in this practice. A voter now has three preferences. It has certainly allowed greater freedom for voters to choose a better candidate. But in some areas, the comfort of having three votes means voters can auction two of their three preferences to the highest bidder (an intending candidate), shrewdly encouraging bribery. The increase in DSIP funding over the last five years might give the incumbent MPs an advantage in this election either if they have invested in development or if they are able to siphon off the funds as ‘campaign money’. Normally, only about one half of PNG’s incumbent MPs are returned. It will be interesting to see if this ratio increases this time round.

Conclusion

Papua New Guineans have long waited for the year 2017. It promises challenge as well as change. Will the people reinstate Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the PNC party to government despite the serious allegations of corruption that are yet to be cleared by the courts? In the absence of the anti-corruption team, Task Force Sweep, some have even wondered if the Prime Minister will ever get prosecuted. O’Neill is confident that PNC will return to power.

 

IMF analysis shows PNG has overstated economic growth

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/01/burying-the-truth-png-suppresses-official-imf-report-on-economy.html#more

Until last week, Papua New Guinea was the only country in the East Asia-Pacific region, and one of only a handful of countries worldwide, refusing to release its 2016 IMF Article IV report in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assesses each country’s economic health. The Bank of PNG (the reserve bank) offered six “critical issues” for refusing to release the IMF’s review but recently changed its mind – KJ

A JUST released IMF report reveals the O’Neill government has overstated the growth rate of the PNG economy by 12.7% since its election in 2012.

The IMF analysis indicates the PNG economy is K6.3 billion smaller in 2017 than claimed by the government. This means, according to the IMF, that the debt to GDP ratio is 33.5% – which is above the 30% limit set in PNG’s Fiscal Responsibility Act. The greatest concerns about economic management relate to the Bank of PNG’s control of the foreign exchange rate and reserves, with more breaches of international norms than previously admitted. While commending the government for its actions in the 2016 supplementary budget and a “prudent” 2017 budget, the IMF expressed a number of concerns. These included the areas in which expenditure cuts have been made, the lack of effort to raise revenue (particularly from the resource sector) and the need to improve public financial management. The IMF’s forecast is that short-term risks are tilted to the downside, although there are medium-term prospects of further resource projects that may balance this out.

Even if countries disagree with IMF assessments the accepted international norm is that they release them along with their own alternative views.

 

Accountant gives up career to help homeless kids

Post Courier

Over a hundred underprivileged street kids living in Port Moresby will be given a chance at a decent education thanks to the efforts of a local nongovernmental organization. Life PNG Care announced over the weekend that it will be sending 106 street children to school this year as part of its ‘Strongim Pikinini Education Program’. Over the Christmas period the NGO gave over six hundred street children a hot meal and a Christmas present giving them a small but memorable taste of what children in stable homes experience. Indeed, it goes without saying that Life PNG Care has since its conception, done wonders for the seemingly forgotten children of PNG. Yet all this work could not have been done if not for the efforts of the organization’s founder; a humble man with a big heart who dropped his professional career to try to alleviate problems associated with street kids. Collin Pake founded Life PNG Care in November 2013 after ten prior years of volunteer work with various Church based organizations. Back then and as a young CPA certified accountant, he had a well demanded skill set, the papers to go along with them and a good attitude; traits that could have got him a job anywhere. Yet, even with the ability to get a decent job and a comfortable life, he chose a life of selflessness and an interest for others; in particular under privileged children and orphans. Mr Pake said when interviewed by Post Courier yesterday that most of his life he has seen the struggles of children on the street and as a professional starting out his life as an accountant, he was baffled at the way society ignores homeless and orphaned children. “These children have a right to an education and a future but more importantly, they are our children. The you, me, the doctor in hospital, the taxi driver doing his rounds, the Government of the day. Us,” said Mr Pake. “We should give a damn when we see a five year old standing at the traffic light selling peanuts, or a ten year old seating on the curbside begging for food.” Mr Pake said it was sights like the mentioned that gave him the passion and desire to make a difference that ultimately resulted in him leaving accounting practice to start Life PNG Care. “Life PNG Care can only do so much and I am not the savior of the street kids. “There is only so much I can do with the limited resources at my disposal, but as long as I have the energy and support of donor companies and agencies who have supported Life PNG Care’s work in the past, I see no reason why more and more street children can’t be helped,” said a determined Mr Pake. He said that Life PNG Care’s main focus is giving underprivileged children an education. “You give a child education, and you give him or her the world,” said Mr Pake. The nongovernmental organization started by sending 14 children to school in 2014, almost tripling this number to 45 the following year and raising the number to 75 children last year. With over 200 hundred street children now registered pending placement under Life PNG Care’s ‘Strongim Pikinini Education Program’ Mr Pake said his organization would see that 106 of the 200 get an education for the 2017 academic year. He reported that k70,000 was used last year for the 75 children, all of whom did well and are adjusting to a life of normalcy. “This year it will cost K95,000 for education and housing fees for the 106 children,” said Mr Pake.

 

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Social Concerns Notes – December 2016

Respect builds safe society, says Parkop

December 13, 2016 The National

NATIONAL Capital District Governor Powes Parkop says respect is the value that can build a safe society. “In the past, men respect women as it is part of our culture,” he said. Parkop said this was no longer the case today as men had adopted a culture of not respecting women and girls. “Women are human beings. They are not subjects or some kind of creature that can be accused of sorcery, raped, or you do things to them at any time as you please,” he said.
“We are not fruits that fell from a tree or people who came from animals,” he said.
“We came from women and we should show them the greatest respect.
“Our culture is to respect women. “We have adopted a culture that is unacceptable and contrary to human dignity and we need to put an end to it.

Police yet to quell Tari fighting due to lack of funds
Post Courier, December 15, 2016

THE under siege Tari, capital of Hela Province, remains in a stalemate with police unable to mobilise firepower and resources as yet to quell uncontrolled tribal fighting, mayhem and destruction to property there. Police Commissioner Gari Baki yesterday held urgent meetings with his operational commanders citing lack of funding and logistics preventing any rapid deployment by personnel to deal with the situation. The National Security Advisory Council has also discussed the situation and given directions on what urgent actions the police should take. The National Airports Corporation is not budging in re-opening the airport because of the chaotic situation and unpredictability of safety of commercial aircraft and staff. Acting police commander Inspector Daniel Yangen confirmed the stalemate issuing cautions that combatant groups were re-grouping to continue fighting. “Rumours have also spread that the other factions are regrouping and police are keeping watch on possible areas the warring tribes may attack. “Injured victims are scared to receive treatment at Tari Hospital as they feared being attacked and killed,” he said.

 

Volunteer programme leaves a lasting legacy for young people

Post Courier, December 12, 2016

In Papua New Guinea, young people make up almost half of the urban poor population. Within the region, the World Bank has estimated that 70-80 per cent of young people were unemployed, with studies indicating that urban youth were adversely affected by high levels of poverty.

Studies also showed that young people engage in risky activities such as crime, drugs, alcohol and violence as a result of inequalities. As part of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup legacy, young people from 20 settlements in Port Moresby were engaged in a three-month training and work experience programme, which has given them hands-on work experience, exposure to a workplace setting and life skills training in health and hygiene, financial management and communication.

As part of the training, volunteers engaged in a workshop on ending violence. The training was part of a broader campaign being delivered alongside the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with the aim of developing respect, understanding and tolerance among girls and boys, women and men and the community as a whole, with the overall goal of reducing risk factors associated with gender-based violence in the Pacific. Fifty of the 1,000 volunteers will be selected following the tournament to be #ENDviolence ambassadors in their communities. They will receive further training and support a broad-based community awareness campaign in the 20 shanty towns of Port Moresby in the months following the competition.

 

NEC approves bid to tackle GBV
Post Courier December 16, 2016

THE National Executive Council (NEC) has approved the long-awaited National Strategic Paper on Gender-based Violence, drawing praise from gender advocates and women leaders. The document is a framework to guide the Government to tackle the problem in the country where GBV rates remain some of the highest in the world.

The paper was presented to the NEC by the Community Development Minister Delilah Gore. She confirmed when contacted by the Post-Courier yesterday afternoon that the Cabinet had approved the paper. The establishment of a special parliamentary committee on GBV and a national GBV council and secretariat – with similar functions to the National AIDS Council Secretariat which was set up to coordinate government and donor efforts to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS– is part of the national strategy.

 

PNG LNG landowner royalties – why so long?

By Sam Koim and Stephen Howes on December 16, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/png-lng-landowner-royalties-long-20161216/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=88251da2d4-Devpolicy_News_December_16_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-88251da2d4-227683090

The recent protests by Hela landowners and their latest ultimatum in relation to their non-receipt of royalties and other benefits have the potential to derail PNG’s prestigious and important LNG project. But they also beg the question: how did it come to this? How is it that after more than 200 ships of LNG have left PNG’s shores no royalties have been paid to landowners? How can the situation be resolved, and what are the implications for future projects?

For the rest of this interesting article see the url above. It treats topics such as social mapping and landowner identification studies, clan vetting process, the judicial process, and the present stalemate.

 

Advocating for women in Porgera: an interview with Everlyne Sap

By Camilla Burkot and Everlyne Sap on December 9, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/advocating-for-women-in-porgera-an-interview-with-everlyne-sap-20161209/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=88251da2d4-Devpolicy_News_December_16_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-88251da2d4-227683090

It is well known that gender-based and sexual violence are major problems facing Papua New Guinea. What is less widely recognized are the grassroots efforts underway to combat these problems, and the individuals leading those efforts. Everlyne Sap is one of those individuals. She is a gender advocate and chairperson of the Family and Sexual Violence Steering Committee of the Restorative Justice Initiative Association (RJIA) at Porgera in Enga Province, PNG. Camilla Burkot interviewed Everlyne during the State of the Pacific 2016 conference. You can listen to the podcast here, and read the full transcript here [pdf].

 

Quality education? It’s a thing of the past in most of PNG

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/quality-education-its-a-thing-of-the-past-in-most-of-png.html#more   15 December 2016     Bomail D Witne

STRUCTURAL and curriculum reforms at lower levels of the education system have established a foundation that will shatter the dreams of children in public schools. Elementary schools were introduced in the absence of a proper curriculum and a sufficient number of trained teachers. Many elementary school students in public schools just sing Christian songs all day. Not even their own songs; teachers don’t know them. Some elementary students graduate without being able to understand the difference between a ‘tree’ and ‘three’. They’re often taught in three languages – English, Pidgin and the local vernacular – which seems progressive but it’s done in an unsystematic way. And then the children move on to Grade 3, leaving the teachers at that level to pick up the pieces.

 

What used to be community or primary schools were rebranded ‘top-up primary’, meaning they were permitted to continue to Grades 7 and 8 and take students from other primary schools.

Prior to the ‘reform’, these students would sit a competitive national Grade 6 examination to graduate into high schools – and they were taught by teachers trained at that level. Since the ‘reform’, the Grade 6 examinations are no more. What the so-called reform did was to allow primary teachers to instruct at Grade 7 and 8, which used to be the province of trained high school teachers. This was the beginning of a new learning experience for both teachers and students. Increasing enrolments as a result of the government’s ‘tuition fee free’ policy led to a shortage of classroom space as well as learning materials. So the ill-trained, ill-equipped Grade 8 teachers do what they can. They have a deadline to meet and so the students graduate are left to the Grade 9 teachers in secondary schools who are expected to pick up the pieces.

 

Forgotten – the vulnerable populations of Papua New Guinea

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/forgotten-the-vulnerable-populations-of-papua-new-guinea.html#more

The majority of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas and spend most of their time involved in subsistence gardening or fishing or other economic activities to sustain their livelihoods. They have access to safe drinking water, food and a place to sleep. But this way of life changes drastically when a natural disaster occurs and what is normal is no longer there to sustain their existence. PNG is situated along a volatile seismic band known as the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ which makes it susceptible to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. Other disasters include droughts, floods, landslides, tropical cyclones and king tides. When natural disasters occur, sometimes affected communities adapt to the conditions but in other cases life is never the same. These are the vulnerable populations in emergency situations.

In PNG’s history, one of the worst natural disasters occurred on 17 July 1998 when a tsunami struck near Aitape in the West Sepik Province and proved to be one of the deadliest on record. The tsunami devastated the villages of Sisano, Warupu, Arop and Malol and more than 2,000 people lost their lives. The 10,000 people who were affected and survived were clearly vulnerable. While many moved on with their lives, others had to make the bold decision to move.

Tavurvur and Manam are PNG’s most active volcanoes. Mount Tavurvur, erupted in 2014 and also recorded eruptions in 2013, 2011, 2010, 2006, 2005 and 2002. The most notable eruption occurred in 1994 and affected many people living in East New Britain. It was a devastating time in which people lost their homes and food gardens and had no access to safe drinking water. Evacuation programs were implemented which assisted people recover and make new homes away from their traditional villages.

Manam Island in Madang Province experienced similar devastation in 2004 when its volcano erupted. The Manam islanders’ situation was far from being a success story. Almost 10,000 residents were evacuated to care centres on the mainland where they have now been living for over nine years.

Many social issues have also emerged as they struggle to live their lives – an example of a vulnerable population. The natural disasters experienced in PNG mostly occur unexpectedly and nearly all have devastating effects.

 

PNG’s 2017 Revenue Forecasts – A Detailed Analysis

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/12/pngs-2017-revenue-forecasts-detailed.html.   Paul Flanagan.

PNG’s revenue collapse is likely to continue with estimated additional shortfalls of K1.5 billion for both 2016 and 2017. This will add to the budget deficit, debt levels and financing pressures.

The major reason for this collapse in revenues is not the fall in international commodity prices The reason is the fall in domestic tax collections as a result of PNG’s domestic recession.There have already been enough expenditure cuts in key sectors between 2015 and 2017 (a 52% real cut in infrastructure, 45% in education and 40% in health with large on-going cuts already planned in future years).

Better policies are needed to restart growth and additional tax measures should be considered.

In 2014, it was forecast that 2017 PNG revenues (so excluding international grants and after adjusting for accounting changes) would total K15.2 billion. This has fallen in each subsequent budget so that by the time of the 2017 budget these were K4.7 billion lower than initially forecast – a drop of 31%. And if we look at 2018 figures the fall is K6.3 billion or 38% from expectations of 2014.

The 2015 budget removed K3.3 billion in resource revenues even prior to the fall in commodity prices. This is the K3.3 billion “missing revenues” referred to in the much condemned but broadly accurate blog (see here) predicting the fall in oil prices would hurt revenues and the balance of payments. This early diversion accounts for 22% of the total revenue fall. Too much emphasis has been placed on cutting expenditures in key sectors such as health, education and infrastructure (and not enough on administrative costs or constituency funds).

[For the rest of this article, see the url above]

 

Bougainville youth have historic role in building its future

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/bougainville-youth-have-historic-role-in-building-its-future.html#more 19 December 2016

BOUGAINVILLE’S future depends on the ability of its young generation as it will increasingly engage with the global community, says chief secretary Joseph Nobetau, who is encouraging young Bougainvilleans to play a bigger role in the province’s future.

“You are not tarnished by history or prejudice – your journey is just beginning,” Mr Nobetau told a recent graduation ceremony. “As young people you each have a role in writing part of our future. “You have the opportunity to take on leadership roles and help build a stronger, united and more prosperous future for us all. “You can do this regardless of the path that you choose to take, whether as young corporate leaders, public servants, community leaders, academics, members of your church and so on.” Mr Nobetau said that by committing to a collective future, youth can play an important role and he was confident they will make a significant contribution. “Ask yourselves what you have done to demonstrate leadership and ask yourselves what you can do in the future. “As young Bougainvilleans I have faith that all of you will make a very significant contribution.”

 

The sad story of Investigation Task Force Sweep

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/the-sad-story-of-investigation-task-force-sweep.html#more 20 December 2016   Bal Kama

A LETTER to prime minister Peter O’Neill on the morning of 16 June 2014 started off what would become the most controversial anti-corruption story in the history of Papua New Guinea. Then police commissioner Tom Kulunga requested that O’Neill attend a police interview on allegations of fraud regarding payments of an estimated K71 million by the State to a national law firm, Paul Paraka Lawyers. But the scheduled interview never happened.

For many years, PNG has faced allegations of corruption and often ranked unfavourably in corruption indexes. In 2012, O’Neill promised to address the issue and, to his credit, established the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS). ITFS was an inter-organisation agency that included the Police Fraud Squad. Little did the prime minister know that he himself would become a person of interest, engulfing a considerable amount of ITFS work. But the case against O’Neill was never going to be easy. Since it began, two and a half years ago, a series of convoluted legal cases have jammed the path of the investigators. An interview, let alone any resolution of the serious allegations of fraud against the prime minister, now looks unlikely in light of recent national court judgements against ITFS.

I want to briefly reflect on the most significant court cases against the ITFS this year and assess their implications for anti-corruption efforts in PNG.

The first significant case was in February 2016. The issue was whether or not members of the Fraud Squad (itself part of ITFS) should engage the service of private lawyers instead of the state prosecutors. The prime minister argued that members of the Fraud Squad should engage the service of state prosecutors because they are acting in their capacity as police officers. Further, it was argued that the Attorney-General Act 1989 (PNG) prevents brief-outs to private lawyers unless approved by the Attorney-General and that approval was not given. The Fraud Squad, however, questioned the neutrality of the state prosecutors in light of the successive appointments of Police Commissioners and the consensus among the lawyers acting for the police and the Prime Minister as evidence of a concerted effort to frustrate the case. They argued, inter alia, that the engagement of private lawyers was to ensure that the case against the PM is not derailed or suppressed as often seen in many high-profile cases in PNG.

[For the rest of this instructive article, see the url above.]

600 neglected and homeless children

Post Courier, December 23, 2016

PORT Moresby, capital of PNG with a population of one million people, shockingly has 600 homeless children. This ugly truth came to light when local humanitarian organisation Life PNG Care conducted its annual “Kilo of Kindness Christmas Programme”. The program is an annual event where the organisation go out to certain locations in the city and invite unfortunate children to go to them and have a hot meal and receive a Christmas gift. Life PNG Care director Collin Pakerevealed this yesterday saying many organisations had endeavoured to help the growing number of unfortunate children who live on the streets but few actually go out to assess and bring out changes in the lives of these neglected children. These children, more than 5000 of them, are the invisible generation that our government is neglecting. “There are so many children on the streets now and the number is only growing with each year.

“The Pikinini Act of 2009 clearly highlights that children unattended to should by right, be taken care of by the government. “We cannot keep on lying because the evidence is irrefutable and at our door step,” MrPake said. Post-Courier found – boy in the tunnel- Jerry Owaamong the other children who happily had a meal at Five-Mile recreational park. The program started at Five-Mile at 4pm, then Boroko at 5pm and Koki-Ela Beach at 6pm.

 

Cuban doctors to assist ten district hospitals
Post Courier, November 28, 2016

UP to 30 primary health doctors from Cuba will be deployed in 10 district hospitals during the next three months. There would also be an immediate deployment of a cancer specialist at Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, and employment of some biomedical technologists. Cuba would also provide professors to the proposed new stand alone and revived School of Medicine and Health Science that would be done by the Government and be called “PNG Medical & Health Sciences University”.

These arrangements and more were made possible through a Cuba-PNG Health Diplomacy; a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed last Wednesday between the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the governments of PNG and Cuba in Havana during Mr O’Neill’s official visit.

The MOU also includes other following categories:

  • Cuba would assist in health research and collaboration. Assist PNG in training PNG Medical University post-graduate students in Masters and Post-Masters training. Assist to train our biomedical technologist and others in health;
  • Cuba to assist PNG with medical drugs and vaccines for general medical diseases and non-communicable drugs in diabetes, cancer and hypertension. Assist PNG with medical supplies and diagnostic technologies;
  • Cuba to assist PNG with health information and technology; and
  • Cuban to assist PNG with asset and infrastructure development.

 

Transparency needed on Seabed mining
Post Courier, November 25, 2016

Some non-governmental organisations are concerned about the lack of transparency behind the world’s first seabed mining project set to begin operations in 2018 in the Bismarck Sea. It was claimed yesterday that Canadian company Nautilus Minerals, responsible for the project dubbed Solwara1, had kept its operations and plans secret from the Papua New Guinea public.

“We are not saying that the project is some evil thing that is utterly bad, all we hope to have is a report and if possible a second opinion on what environmental impacts could be wrought from the project,” she said. Ms Tony said that there remained strong opposition to the project among local communities and environmentalists, the World Bank included.

According to Mr Mesulam, “Nautilus does not have the consent of local communities. We still don’t know what the impacts of this experimental mining will be.

According to Minster Chan, PNG stands to gain US124million from the mining project, and describes the expected environmental impacts of the project to be “relatively small”.

 

Doctor calls on govt to upgrade rural maternal facilities

December 1, 2016 The National

A SENIOR doctor has urged the Government to upgrade birth units in rural health facilities and to equip them properly. Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at PNG’s School of Medicine Professor Glen Mola said the Government’s plan to address maternal and newborn deaths by making it compulsory for women to give birth in proper health facilities needed to be carefully thought through.
He said it was important that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill discussed such issues more with local maternity care professionals to help strategise the goal of supervised births to reduce maternal and infant deaths.
“There are about 260,000 births every year in PNG,” Mola told The National via email.
“Of these, about 104,000 women come to health facilities to have a professionally supervised birth.
“But this also means that 156,000 women deliver their babies in their villages without professional assistance. “If we are to reduce the risk of maternal and newborn deaths, the parts of the health system that the prime minister says he is planning to bring the women for supervised births in (urban) hospitals are already overstretched and many are unable to cope with the numbers.”
Mola said the Government should up-skill community health workers and nurses to provide quality birth care for women in rural health facilities. He said more doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers should be trained to provide quality healthcare for the expanded rural health service to enable the majority of women to access supervised care close to their villages.

5000 bench warrants pending
Post Courier, December 01, 2016

FIVE thousand bench warrants are outstanding in Papua New Guinea. This was revealed by the country’s Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia who said that bench warrants did not include the warrants of arrest issued by the district courts of the Magisterial Services.

Sir Salamo said that 60 to 70 per cent of these 5000 bench warrants were from National Court crime cases. “The oldest bench warrant goes back to 1983 and 1984.

 

More than 40,000 living with HIV

Post Courier, December 01, 2016.

MORE than 40,000 people are living with HIV and at least half of them are receiving lifesaving antiretroviral drugs provided free of charge by the Government. The Health Department said that between 2001 and 2011, the rate of new HIV infections in PNG fell by 53 precent and the death rate among people living with HIV are on antiretroviral drugs (ART) earlier. Despite this, more than 2000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year while many people still do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others and stigma and discrimination remained a reality for many people living with the condition.

Health Secretary Pasco Kase says while HIV and AIDS remained a health problem and the risk factors for contracting the virus still existed, the number of people affected by HIV had not reached the very high levels initially feared. This was due, in part, to an increasingly co-ordinated and co-operative approach to responding to HIV. Health Minister Michael Malabag said early PNG projections estimated that the HIV prevalence among the adult population would reach more than 5 per cent but improvements in the scale up of our HIV testing and surveillance in the past 10 years had demonstrated that HIV had had limited impact as a whole with the current national prevalence rate of 0.8 per cent reported last year. Further recent evidence suggested that the epidemic was concentrated in key populations with HIV prevalence among this group estimated at more than 15 times the national average. There was also recent evidence showing the prevalence in certain provinces like the National Capital District and Highlands provinces going over the 1 per cent mark. This meant that the epidemic was generalised in these provinces.

 

Trump and the PNG 2017 elections

By Bal Kama on November 25, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/trump-and-the-png-2017-elections-20161125/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=93818d5143-Devpolicy_News_December_02_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-93818d5143-227683090

Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of America took the world by surprise. It was certainly one of the defining moments of the 21st century. Many assumed the United States would continue to herald liberalism, led by the ‘establishment,’ an almost unassailable cohort of conglomerates and political high flyers apparently interested in safeguarding the status quo and advancing the ideals of the democratic world. By their standards, Trump is an outsider. But he unexpectedly found favour with those disenfranchised with the liberal ideal. His election may not be one of celebration for those in the Pacific region, especially given his reluctance to act on US commitments to climate change and regional treaty obligations. But it should rouse some rethinking in our traditional assumptions of domestic politics.

Papua New Guinea’s 2017 National Elections will be an event to watch closely. How will it affect the current political ‘establishment’? PNG has always had a high turnover of politicians [pdf] and this trend will certainly continue, but this time with more zeal and purpose. It will be a test especially for those who have clung to political power and have well-established links. Trump’s election is an outcome of voters disillusioned with the status quo.

Unlike previous elections in PNG, many voters in 2017 will be more informed. Politicians have often been accused of maintaining their grip on power by bribing or deploying ‘sweet policies’ to entice the voters. While both strategies will undeniably be at play, voters will mostly likely be persuaded by a deeper conviction for change. Like the US elections, many PNG voters will most likely call for change on the back of someone ‘new’, someone who appears to be free from corruption. That is already evident in social media discussions.

At the district and provincial level, voters may be reminded of the complacency of their political leaders on these national issues and question the continued lack of development despite much-increased funding allocations under the District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) and Provincial Support Improvement Program (PSIP). It remains a serious question whether security would be sufficient to allow a free and fair election given the lack of funding for the PNG electoral commission. And the massive DSIP and PSIP allocations may give incumbents a greater advantage than they earlier enjoyed.

The 2017 PNG election is an opportunity for change. Like the Trump story, it is likely that the election will breed a new generation of leaders for PNG. Breeding new leadership is not always bad if it serves as a reminder to those already in power not to get too comfortable in their seats and forget the very purpose of their mandate.

 

PNG one of world’s most ‘fragile’ nations says report

05 December 2016

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/png-is-one-of-the-worlds-most-fragile-nations-says-oecd-report.html#more

THREE of the world’s most fragile countries are on Australia’s doorstep, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development that implores the international community to maintain its aid commitments. The OECD’s States of ‘Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence’ report identifies 56 countries or regions as being fragile based on how exposed they are to risks like economic shock, youth unemployment, disease, corruption, crime and violence. Three of Australia’s closest neighbours – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste (East Timor) – are assessed as fragile.

PNG is rated as more fragile than countries that have endured recent coup attempts such as Egypt, Libya and Burkina Faso. The report calls on the international community to provide adequate, long-term development assistance for these countries and focus funding on the real drivers of fragility. It also wants countries to develop better financing strategies. According to the report, PNG and Timor-Leste are more vulnerable to political risks, while the Solomon Islands most substantial vulnerability is to environmental and health risks. Together with Indonesia, these three countries represent the largest four recipients of Australian aid. PNG was given $554.5 million in 2015-16, the Solomon Islands $175.9 million and Timor-Leste $95.3 million.

Despite ongoing conflict from West Papuans over Indonesian rule, Indonesia was not deemed fragile by the OECD.

 

Church decries demand for land compensation

December 5, 2016 The National

THE Catholic Church does not entertain or pay compensation to landowner groups for services it is providing on their land, according to Mt Hagen archdiocese’s archbishop Douglas Young.
He told the Kumdi tribe, which owns the land on which the Notre Dame Girls Secondary School in Baiyer, Western Highlands, is located, that people must stop thinking that the church would pay compensation for their land. The tribe organised a reconciliation ceremony last Tuesday to say sorry for locking the gates to the school. They apologised to Young, the Catholic Church, parents and students for demanding land compensation.
Their demand for compensation began in 2010.
This year, after the Term One break, the landowners refused to allow anyone into the school.
Young explained to them that the church had never paid compensation to landowners.
“I’m talking about the world, not only here. The Catholic Church does not pay anything to anyone as land compensation,” he said. “Anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church will pay compensation for the land at Kumdi is wrong because the Church does not get involved in that.” He said people must understand that the church was helping the Government by providing schools, health services and job opportunities. “You should raise your concern with the Government – not with the church,” Young said.

Evicted settlers face difficulty in resettling

December 5, 2016 The National

MORE than 3000 settlers from Morata One in the National Capital District were forcefully evicted by the city authority to allow construction of a new road from Gerehu to Waigani. The evicted settlers were now finding it hard to resettle and start a new life again after their homes and properties were destroyed by the city authority last week. Morata One committee leader Eric Steven said National Capital District Commission (NCDC) failed to allocate new land or pay them compensation to start a new living prior to destroying their homes and properties and forcefully evicting them. “We have been living in that piece of land for almost two generations now because it’s a customary land and not state land,” Steven told The National. “However, we were issued a stop- work notice by NCDC on Aug 23, 2016 and a week later on Aug 30, 2016 we were issued a demolition notice. “There was no eviction notice and now more than 120 houses were demolished, which include rent houses and about 3500 people are displaced and we are helpless.

Disability does not stop young Cornelius

Post Courier, December 7, 2016

HE was born with a medical condition known as cerebral palsy, but that did not stop him from developing his passion in computer graphics. Twelve-year-old Cornelius, also known as Datii Yalamu, from Lae-Madang-Goroka parents, may have difficulty in walking but he has dreams, hopes and ideas he wanted to share on the International Day for Persons with Disabilities at Cheshire disability Services compound at Hohola, in Port Moresby. According to his father Philemon Yalamu, Cornelius was taught how to use a computer at the age of three, and although not at school is familiar with anything to do with digital graphic artist programs, Photoshop, and other office work programs to do with typing. He knows them all, very well. “As parents, it was a challenge for my wife and I but we never gave up and thought beyond his disability to make him do things like an able bodied child would do, think out of the box and try to come up with creative ways to help Cornelius.

“He does all this with his legs and toes because we believe that he has the potential and ability to do so,” he said.

Cornelius can create invitation cards for birthdays and other events using the graphic design software, Adobe Photoshop and other programs. He uses his toes to do all the typing for the various programs that are in the computer.

 

Arawa hospital in dire need of medical supplies
Post Courier, December 07, 2016

ARAWA hospital in Central Bougainville is in dire need of medical supplies, Dr Joe Vilosi said yesterday. Dr Vilosi said that the hospital is also unable to attend to emergency cases as whatever limited stock left is being reserved only for desperate cases where a patient is about to lose his or her life. He iterated that the Government must respond quickly to the matter and see health as a priority because without proper health facilities in Bougainville, the dreams and aspirations of Bougainville will turn to dust. Dr Vilosi said the full autonomy depends on a healthy workforce therefore without a healthy workforce there will be a sick Government. The onus is now on the Government to intervene and address the situation in which the Arawa Hospital is in without medical supplies and see it fixed immediately.

 

Muddle to leave hospital

Post Courier December 07, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s biggest referral hospital has transformed during the past three years under the leadership of chief executive officer Grant Muddle as he prepares to leave this month.

The hospital will regret his departure over suggestions that he was too expensive to keep. Mr Muddle spoke yesterday of how he had changed the hospital by enforcing existing rules that had not been enforced before for various reasons. He said that from 2013, when he arrived, to this year, hospital admissions were 23,000 and in 2016 admission has climbed to 45,000. In 2013 the hospital saw 66,800 hospital outpatient consultants and in 2016 consultants numbers increased to 170,000, that is, 100,000 more consultants. Roughly, the hospital sees 680 patients at its outpatient clinic daily.

“Patients are fixed faster, we have gone from an average length of stay of 20 days to 8.6 days, which is less strain on the public health system, people are much healthier and return home or work to become more productive,” he said. “Death rates at the hospital were 5.2 per cent in 2013 and in 2016 the rate is at 2.8 per cent. It is important to remember that the people that come here are very sick, extremely medically and surgically unwell and the hospital tries their best to keep everyone alive,” Mr Muddle said.

 

TFF funds has not been paid as planned
Post Courier, December 07, 2016

THE Government’s ambitious Tuition Fee Free (TFF) money have not been received freely and on time as planned. A lot of school administrations are confused about partial dispatches of fees during the year as the last dispatch is due this Friday when many schools have already closed for the academic year. Last week, the Government announced that it would remit the last lot of TFF money – that is K113 million – for schools. This announcement comes late as many schools have rising debts to pay and others are still looking into their accounts for the arrival of any money.

In Kimbe, West New Britain, Catholic Education Secretary Silpaga John Francis said yesterday that as far as the Catholic Church agency in the province was concerned, more than half of the 300 schools in the province had not received their full tuition fees promised. He could not specify the exact amount owed to the schools. The Catholic Church agency in the province has the biggest number of schools which is 163. These schools have not received their fees for the last batch and the earlier batch.

 

Child sexual abuse high

Post Courier, December 09, 2016

SHOCKING increase in the number of child sexual abuse in the National Capital District has raised concerns for more strategic approaches to address the situation. In addition, there have been increases in gender-based violence or intimate partner violence reported at Port Moresby General Hospital Family Support Centre. Social worker and clinical manager Tessie Soi and head of the support centre said yesterday that up to 70 per cent of patients who are received at the day centre are sexually abused children under 18 years old. Mrs Soi also reported that the centre receives and treats 100 survivors of intimidate partner violence or gender based violence cases every month. In a day the support centre sees 12 new cases and offer among other essential services physiological first aid to those who need it.

“We see survivors for two to three hours, just imagine the workloads my staff have but they are fighters in their own rights and rights against gender based violence and HIV.”

Health Department’s Technical advisor gender and men’s health Sebatian Robert said there are 17 Family Support Centres in 15 provinces, two in Simbu and two also in Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

 

Article from the New York Times on Manus detention

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/opinion/sunday/australia-refugee-prisons-manus-island.html?_r=0

 

Asylum seekers riot after death at Papua New Guinea detention camp

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/25/asylum-seekers-riot-death-papua-new-guinea-detention-camp/   Post Courier, 25 December 2016

Asylum seekers held at a Papua New Guinea detention centre briefly took control of two compounds and expelled guards following the death of a refugee who fell ill at the centre, Papua New Guinea police said on Sunday.

A 27-year-old Sudanese man, who was identified as Faysal Ishak Ahmed by refugee advocates, collapsed at the centre and was evacuated to hospital in Australia this week. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said he died on Saturday.

The man’s death is not being treated as suspicious by Australian authorities, but detainees and refugee rights groups have claimed the man was seriously ill for months and had made repeated requests for medical assistance before the emergency.

A total of 872 asylum seekers are held on Manus despite Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruling in April that their detention was illegal and ordering the camps to close.

 

How not to address maternal mortality

By Camilla Burkot on December 2, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/how-not-to-address-maternal-mortality-20161202/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=93818d5143-Devpolicy_News_December_02_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-93818d5143-227683090

Papua New Guinea is often referred to as the ‘land of the unexpected’. I sometimes wonder whether it might be better referred to as the ‘land of the extreme’. Extreme is certainly an appropriate adjective to describe the country’s maternal mortality ratio, which is the highest in the Asia-Pacific region: 215 deaths per 100,000 live births. To put this in perspective, in Australia the maternal mortality ratio is 6 per 100,000 nationally, and 14 per 100,000 among Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Extreme also seems an apt descriptor for PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s plan to address maternal and infant mortality in his country. As reported by the ABC on Tuesday, O’Neill plans to introduce legislation in early 2017 that will make it mandatory for women to deliver their children in a clinic or hospital. To enable this, women will be paid to attend those clinics or hospitals.

What I assume to be the underlying impetus of this hasty policy announcement – the desire to ensure that all women have access to skilled attendance at birth – is a sound one. The most recent data available from the WHO (2013) indicate that less than half of women in PNG deliver their children with the assistance of a trained midwife or doctor. Globally, about 15 percent of women will encounter unexpected complications during or shortly after birth which require emergency obstetric care (EmOC). Skilled attendance and EmOC save lives.

The key question that policymakers must grapple with, then, is how best to enable access to those services in their particular context. While encouraging women to deliver at health facilities is key, doing so cannot be interpreted as a magic bullet for reducing maternal mortality. Indeed, pushing women to give birth in overcrowded and under-resourced facilities may put them at an increased risk of potentially life-threatening infections, such as sepsis.

Even in the face of a strong, evidence-based plan for improving the rates of supervised births in PNG, it’s difficult to see how the government will be in a position to implement it. As noted on this blog last month, PNG’s health budget was cut by 21% (K315 million) in the 2017 budget (this followed cuts to health of more than 30% between 2014 and 2015). The number of health facilities that are fully operational in PNG, particularly at the aid post level in rural and remote areas, has dwindled. Health professionals are also few and far between; PNG has just 0.5 nurses/midwives per 1000 people, while the WHO now advocates for a minimum 4.45 skilled health professionals (midwives, nurses and physicians) per 1000. Glen Mola, a professor of obstetrics at UPNG, confirms that the main problem facing the PNG health system is a lack of funding for health staff and facilities; “If we’ve got the money, let’s see it please… we desperately need it,” he told the ABC. In this context, requiring women to travel to facilities to deliver their children simply cannot be automatically equated to their accessing skilled attendance.

 

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Social Concerns Notes – November 2016

Economic dip to hit PNG next year, Lupari says

November 17, 2016 The National

CHIEF Secretary Isaac Lupari says next year will be a tough one for Papua New Guinea due to the financial situation of the country. He reiterated what Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker, Finance Minister James Marape and Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele said at the time of the announcement of next year’s budget a few weeks ago.
Lupari said public servants’ wages alone expended almost K4 billion – about 30 per cent of the total annual budget.
“By anyone’s standard, that’s a lot of money,” he said.
“People are investing K4 billion in wages and salaries but are we getting the productivity?

 

Govt and church must work in unity to curb violence


Post Courier, November 15, 2016

‘‘I looked after a Department who deals with family and our focus is on ending violence and strengthening relationships.

As a child growing up, I know the stories, talks, and fears of sorcery related stories.’’

Community Development and Religion Secretary, Anna Solomon said this at a conference in Lae yesterday aimed at addressing sorcery related issues in the country. She said the government and the Churches must work together to address and solve sorcery related killings and violence in the country.

“The Churches were the closest to the people and people respect churches more than the government so it’s good churches take the lead role in addressing sorcery,” Ms Solomon said. She said that in the past, when there were no proper health services and even no health posts, people die of sickness and blamed sorcery but today, sorcery cannot be blamed because there are health services and sickness can be cured. She said many educated and working class people still fear sorcery and don’t want to send their kids or even themselves to the village for holiday because they fear they might be killed if they go back to the village.

Head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, Rev. Jack Urame said sorcery related violence remains a huge phenomena and the Highlands region is leading with Sorcery related violence followed by Momase, and other parts of the country. “We are facing a new reality in a shift in our beliefs,” Rev. Urame said. He said when bad things happen; people quickly release their frustrations without thinking of the consequences and whether their actions are right or wrong. Rev. Urame said life style diseases are another big problem in the country and when deaths are caused by lifestyle diseases, it is always blamed on witchcraft and sorcery because there are no alternative reasons.

PM: Govt against prostitution

October 31, 2016 The National

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says prostitution will not be legalised in the country.
He told Parliament that although the world’s oldest profession was practised in PNG, “we (as a Christian country) do not condone this kind of practice happening”. “There are other means in which we (Government) can protect some of these people who are engaged in this industry. There is no need for us to legalise prostitution in the country,” he said. “If we are talking about the safety of individuals, we have got enough laws under the criminal code and other laws that can protect issues like assault and abuse of individuals. “We do not need to have a specific law to legalise prostitution in the country.” O’Neill was responding to a question from Usino Bundi MP Anton Yagama on the Government’s position regarding a proposed bill to protect sex workers in the country.

 

Report Violence Cases – PPC

The National 31 October, 2016

SORCERY-related violence and violence against women are major problems in the Highlands and victims are urged to report them to police. Enga police commander George Kakas said he has set up a sorcery-related violence (SRV) task force in Enga and it would be dedicated to reducing the crime in Enga. “This hateful darkness is not customary and has swept across several provinces and towns like a copycat cult that leaves behind tortured and murdered women and men,” Kakas said. “Additionally, families and children are branded with the lifelong stigma of sanguma and communities are left with deep wounds that will only turn to scars in time. These crimes usually centre around someone falling ill and illness being blamed on sorcery, or more troubling, sorcery is used as an excuse to target someone – usually a woman.” Kakas said a combined operation by members from SRV task force and National Capital District police arrested a man on Oct 24 for the torture and murder of a woman accused of sorcery from a remote village in Enga. He said the accused posted photos of the victim on facebook and that was how they tracked him down and he was arrested and charged with the alleged torture and murder of the village woman.

 

Budget Fails Credibility Test

See :http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/11/pngs-2017-budget-fails-credibility-test-is-fiscally-fraudulent.html#more

PAPUA New Guinea’s 2017 budget, which was brought down today in Port Moresby, was a key opportunity to demonstrate the credibility of the O’Neill government’s economic management before next year’s election.  It fails. Foolish games with numbers and unrealistic assumptions severely undermine the budget’s credibility. Indeed, the level of deception arguably approaches fraud.

The biggest winners from the budget are overseas petroleum shareholders with proposed cuts in the company tax rate from 45-50% to 30%.

These are interesting choices by government given major cuts in key areas such as health, education and infrastructure, with further foreshadowed cuts of 11% in nominal terms and 37% in real terms from 2017 to 2021.

In stark contrast to the government’s claimed priorities, the real cuts to health are 29%, to education 18% and to transport 35%. Of course, key election elements are protected. For example, K20m is still provided to fund the “free health” policy.  This represents less than 2% of the total health budget and is miniscule relative to the K315m cut in health in this 2017 budget. The K20m “free health” policy is a smokescreen for the major cutbacks in health that are hurting church services and the level of assistance provided by health centres.  There is essentially no mechanism for distributing these funds down to rural clinics – so simply banning the collection of fees means that these clinics are forced to operate without basic medicines or to close down altogether. “Free health” becomes “No health”.

See also: http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/11/pngs-2017-budget-fiscally-fraudulent.html

PNG Economy – Forecasting Confusion Undermines Confidence but recession confirmed.

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/11/png-economy-forecasting-confusion.html

LNG values are assumed to increase in the 2017 Budget by 16% while recent World Bank forecasts indicate a fall of 35%.

Using official BPNG figures, and updating them for the lower growth forecasts in the 2017 budget, a recession is confirmed: (using the measure most relevant for measuring progress on PNG’s living standards) real non-resource GDP per capita is expected to fall from K2,479 in 2013 to K2,282 in 201 7 this is a fall of 8% in average living standards in PNG.

According to official estimates from Treasury and BPNG, it will now take until past 2023 to get back to 2013 standards of living standards.

[For full article, see the url above]

 

Prepare for climate change: Cardinal

November 2, 2016 The National National

CARDINAL Sir John Ribat wants the Government and United Nations to make it a matter of policy that victims of climate change be given space for resettlement. He said Pacific Islands were experiencing climate change, rising sea level covering more land and land becoming too salty to grow crops. “Here in Papua New Guinea, we have an island, the Carteret Island (Bougainville), that is showing signs of this, part of the island has been washed away,” Sir John said. “People are living there but some of them have gone out of the island, some are staying there saying they want to remain on the island until whatever happens to them because they feel that they have been born there.
“We also have another island that is facing the same difficulty and that is Tuvalu.”
Sir John said Kiribati was also experiencing rising sea levels.
“We are seeing signs of this coming and we must prepare as a nation about how to accommodate our people whose islands are being washed away by rising sea level. How are we going to cater for them, not ourselves but those from the Pacific.” Sir John appealed to the developed nations to look into the situation to assist. “Our understanding of refugees, UN defines refugees as people who are running away from a situation in the country that forces them to come out and they name that as war that is affecting them,” he said. Sir John said global warming would be discussed in the 2018 Oceania Bishops Conference.

 

PNG needs more midwives

November 23, 2016 The National

THERE is a critical shortage of midwives in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, according to the president of the PNG Midwifery Society, Jennifer Pyakalyia.
Speaking at the start of a Midwifery Symposium of the society, Pyakalyia said that the country had about 700 midwives which were not enough considering the large number of vacancies in rural health facilities, and the increasing number of midwives reaching retirement age. “We need to train more midwives because their role is very critical if we want to improve the health indicators and improve the well-being of women.” Pyakalyia said that amidst the challenges midwives faced, there was no excuse to turn a blind eye to the many lives that were lost through pregnancy and childbirth because every woman had the right to a safe delivery.
“The incoming midwives are catalysts for change to bring improvement in the lives of women and infants so it is our vision to have at least one to two midwives in all the 89 districts which will provide up to 82 per cent of all the maternity care requirements for pregnant women,” she said.
She highlighted that in 2011-2015, 400 midwives graduated under an Australian government supported training programme, however, that number decreased in 2015 with the closure of the programme.

 

Surgery restores girl’s sight

November 25, 2016 The National

A BLIND six-year-old girl from the Trobriand Islands in Milne Bay had her sight restored this week following a successful cataract surgery aboard the YWAM Medical Ship, mv YWAM PNG.
The medical ship was on a collaborative outreach patrol to the Kiriwina-Goodenough district.
The young girl, Mandy, has been blind for the last three years from bilateral cataracts.
She could only see light and dark shades and was heavily dependent on family members for her everyday needs. Following the operation, Mandy was greeted by elated uncles, aunts, siblings, grandparents and friends – in tears and overjoyed by the result. Mandy chose her favourite pair of sunglasses and received distance and reading glasses before returning to her village following the surgery.

More girls in school: Kuman

November 25, 2016 The National

THE tuition fee free (TFF) policy has seen an increase in the enrolment of the female students in rural areas in the last four years, Education Minister Nick Kuman says. He told the newly-appointed National Education Board that it was one of the positive outcomes of the TFF policy and he urged them to work with the government to strengthen its policies to make education accessible and of standard.
“Our main focus as the government is first to give accessibility to our students of this country and we have seen in the last four years. We were tracking about 17 per cent growth in the enrolment we also saw an increase in our female students going to school, particularly in the rural parts of PNG.”
Kuman said a number of students continuing from Grade 8 to 12 had also increased.

 

Transferring HIV treatment to the PNG government: a good idea?

By Stephen Howes on October 31, 2016  http://devpolicy.org/transferring-hiv-treatment-png-government-good-idea-20161031/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=201246d92f-Devpolicy_News_November_4_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-201246d92f-227683090

Despite its size, Australian aid is rarely front page news in PNG. But it was earlier in the month when the Post-Courier ran a story that aid funding was to be cut to a number of NGOs providing HIV treatment and other health services. The story was based on a briefing note prepared by the affected NGOs outlining the impact of the foreshadowed cuts on their services. The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby responded (in the same article) that funding for HIV treatment would run to the middle of next year (no mention of whether there would be any respite for the providers of non-HIV reproductive health services). The statement also said that Australia was working with the PNG government to help it “better and more sustainably deliver health services, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive health programs.” The implicit expectation that the Australian government expects, or at least hopes, that the PNG government will pick up the tab after June 2017 is consistent with the statement in the September 2015 Australian aid PNG strategy (and reiterated as recently as last month) that “Our investments in HIV will progressively shift to PNG Government responsibility.”

I certainly recognise that Australian aid to PNG is small and faces many demands, only a few of which can be met. But I think the intention announced in the aid strategy, and apparently conveyed to the NGOs involved, to pass responsibility for funding HIV treatment to the PNG government is ill-considered. Indeed, as I argued in my presentation at the ACFID National Conference last week, it illustrates some of the ailments in the Australian aid program revealed by our 2015 Australian Aid Stakeholder Survey. [For the rest of this article – see the url above]

Even if PNG had the fiscal capacity to manage the HIV treatment program, institutional weaknesses should give pause prior to any transfer of responsibilities. The same Post Courier article that reported the cuts also noted the in-fighting in the National AIDS Council, and the dispute over its leadership.

And don’t forget that the Global Fund used to transfer its funding for HIV, TB and malaria to the PNG government, but a few years ago stopped doing that due to abuse. There is, sadly, little to show for the decades of effort and millions of dollars that the Australian aid program has invested in capacity building in PNG. And there is no reason to think that the current emphasis (in the 2014 strategy) on “system strengthening” and (in last month’s portfolio review) on “the development of core public health capacity” will fare any better.

A more realistic approach in a difficult environment such as PNG would be to build on success: to try different things and to stick with what works. If NGOs have been able to make effective use of aid funding to provide treatment to those with HIV, then keep funding them to do so. In the process, the aid program actually will be building the capacity of a range of service providers.

 

Archdiocese plans housing project

November 4, 2016 The National

THE Archdiocese of Rabaul in East New Britain plans to start a housing project for low income-earners. Archbishop Francesco Panfilo told an Islands region mayors conference in Kokopo on Wednesday that the project would benefit its employees. But he said it would also benefit the people who had worked in Kokopo for a long time and had proved to be faithful and reliable employees.
The archdiocese will make land available behind the Kokopo sports field for the project. It will also be responsible for surveying the land and funding infrastructure development such as drainage, roads, water and electricity. “We foresee the project to develop into three to four stages with the hope that at the end, we may have about 250 houses,” he said. Panfilo said there was also a need to protect the common areas, landmarks and urban landscapes which increased a sense of belonging, of rootedness, of “feeling at home” within a city.

 

All SABLs cancelled: O’Neill

November 7, 2016 The National

THE Government has cancelled all Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABL) due to irregularities in various land and forestry laws that allowed the devastation of forests, parliament has been told. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill urged the landowners to revisit the leases signed with companies and if possible negotiate better benefits. He was responding to a series of questions by Pomio MP Elias Kapavore in Parliament last Friday. Kapavore asked if the commission of inquiry report into the SABL would be tabled in Parliament and if the Government could consider landowners of forestry impacted areas being given similar benefits as those in the extractive industry.
O’Neill said the Government was still waiting on the final report from the commission members.
“We have received reports on SABL from two commissioners out of the three that were tasked to carry out this inquiry,” he said. “While waiting on last report, cabinet has taken some recommendations based on recommendations from the two commissioners who were able to lodge their report. “I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today (last Friday) I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

Nissan islanders await reply

Post Courier, November 11, 2016,

AUTHORITIES are yet to respond to the plight of Nissan islanders in Bougainville who are facing a critical food shortage. Every day is a struggle for the children, mothers and their families to look for food. Some children have become victims, encountering accidents while in search for food.

According to an officer with the ABG department of community government that deals with the Bougainville disaster office, the last relief supplies delivered to the people was towards the end of 2015. No food suppliers had been delivered to them this year. No further comments could be obtained from the Bougainville Disaster Office because the head of the office is currently seeking medical treatment in Port Moresby.

 

Please help us

SCHOOL children are falling off trees in desperate search for food for Nissan islanders as climate change takes its toll on low-lying islands in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Relief supplies have not reached Nissan district, which comprises mostly atolls, despite repeated requested in the past 10 months, says Nehan community government member Conrad Willy. In June, a Grade Six student at Pinepal fell from a mangrove tree as she was picking the mangrove beans to eat, and was rushed by dinghy to Buka General Hospital, treated and discharged. Last Friday, Raphael Alben, 4 and a half years old, fell from a coconut tree and broke both arms while searching for young coconuts. Mr Willy warned that more children would be hurt as their parents send them out to look for food.

He said yesterday that the continuous call for relief aid for the people of Nissan District has fallen on deaf ears. Mr Willy said the people started facing food shortages towards the end of last year.

He said that numerous reports had been presented to the disaster relief office in Bougainville, the Community Government Office and Members of Parliament regarding the situation at the atolls, but they had not been addressed.

 

Man charged, detained for alleged sorcery killing

November 9, 2016 The National

ENGA police have charged a man with wilful murder and locked him up after he allegedly posted on Facebook photos of a woman being tortured, a hot iron rod being pushed into her private part and killed. The woman was alleged to have been practising sorcery. Police commander acting Superintendent George Kakas said pictures of the tortured woman on Facebook went viral and painted a bad picture of the province. He said that his investigation officers followed up on the posting and tracked the man down in Port Moresby. They arrested him last week and took him back to Wabag.
Kakas said the man from the Kombiam-Ambum district was charged with wilful murder and detained in Wabag. He said that his investigation team was collecting evidence. He said the Kombiam-Ambum district was known for sorcery-related killings and torture of innocent people which was a major concern. “Sorcery is not part of Enga’s culture, it’s adopted from outside people and their belief on sorcery is slowly growing roots in the province,” Kakas said.
Meanwhile, Kakas said that he formed a sorcery violence-related unit in the province this year to deal with any sorcery-related problems.

We are not denying citizens on nomination fees, says O’Neill

PNG Today / National Broadcasting Corporation

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says his government is not trying to deny the rights of Papua New Guineans to stand for public office. Responding in parliament to a series of questions concerning the proposed changes to the law to increase election nomination fees, Mr O’Neill said candidates who want to contest must sacrifice something because of the ever increasing costs of running elections in the country. “Now we are reaching close to K400 million to run the 2017 elections and the cost keeps on going up because the number of candidates is increasing,” he said. “So if candidates want to run for public office, there must be certain sacrifices we all have to make. One of them is cost.”

Mr O’Neill said the money will go back to the Electoral Commission help it conduct the election.

Opposition leader Don Polye says the opposition will take the government to court if parliament passes its proposal to increase the nomination fee from K1,000 to K10,000.

 

And a comment from Andrew Lattas:   The increase in the nomination fee from K1000 to K10,000 will further consolidate corruption in PNG. It will substantially help candidates supported and funded (either directly or indirectly) by foreign companies like RH which are appropriating land for logging and oil palm. It will help to exclude grass-roots activists who campaign against corrupt local members, activists who have limited financial resources.  The local landowner companies (a misnomer, for they represent select interests) are funded by the foreign developer and are active in supporting and mobilising votes for chosen candidates (e.g. Paul Tiensten now in jail and part of the Kitchen cabinet). These local landowner companies operate as a local shield to hide, defend and advance foreign interests. The increased nomination fee will force potential candidates to seek a powerful wealthy patron, and will help restrict the candidates to those who have such patronage.

 

Strong mood of patriotism courses through Bougainville 09 November 2016

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/11/strong-mood-of-patriotism-is-coursing-through-bougainville.html#more

THERE is a strong feeling of patriotism reverberating throughout the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as people become inspired about the prospect of choosing their political future.

“I have always been a strong advocate of participatory democracy where all parties through a consultative and consensually process agree on an issue,” said President John Momis. “In our case, there will be a referendum to decide our political future. “I have made the call that Bougainvilleans are leaders in their own right, we must not be followers who meekly become passive recipients of change. “We must actively participate in the referendum process and take responsibility for our actions,” he said. Dr Momis said all Bougainvilleans must help shoulder the burden that Bougainville is currently bearing and that the people must learn from the mistakes of the past as they work towards the future.

Dr Momis said that it is important that Bougainvilleans prepare well for the referendum: they must unite, be fiscally self-reliant, make Bougainville is weapons free, and ensure that good governance prevails. The Bougainville Peace Agreement is the legal framework that defines the parameters of Bougainville’s move towards forging a new political future. Dr Momis said there had been long standing animosity between the Bougainville and PNG governments on the implementation of the peace agreement because of development funds owed to Bougainville and the national government’s failure to help in the region’s capacity building. However both governments had agreed that 15 June 2019 will be the date of the referendum to be held on the future political status of Bougainville.

 

IMF puts true cost of APEC Summit at K3 Billion kina, to be financed largely by debt.

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/10/imf-puts-true-cost-of-apec-summit-at-k3_27.html  by Lowy Institute
It was October 2013 when PNG was given the go ahead to host the 2018 APEC leaders’ meeting. At the time, Prime Minister O’Neill argued the event would deliver immense tourism and investment value by in elevating PNG on the global stage. The meeting, which brings together heads of state from 21 Pacific-facing nations including the US, China and Russia, is one of the few events on the annual international summit schedule that heads of state regularly attend. It is however, perhaps tellingly, most famous for decking leaders out in traditional, often colourful, attire.

Drawing up to 10,000 delegates and media for more than 180 planned meetings (as noted on page 46 of this budget document), the security, logistics and accommodation demands of the event are daunting for any city. Australians will no doubt remember the controversies surrounding Sydney’s 2007 APEC meeting, while last year’s Philippines APEC was also controversial and its value a source of debate. The challenges will be even more acute for Port Moresby, the 3rd least livable city of 140 measured by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

[See the URL above for the full article]

 

TIPNG wants to see SABL investigated

November 11, 2016 The National

Transparency International PNG hopes to see that the blatant injustice highlighted in the special agriculture business leases (SABL) commission of inquiry report are investigated and appropriate action taken against the perpetrators, “The SABLs are a national betrayal, a tragedy and news of its cancellation shines some ray of hope for landowners affected by the scheme,” Transparency International said in a statement. “The commission of inquiry into the SABLs findings produced detailed information of massive corruption, mismanagement and lack of coordination by key agencies including the departments of Lands and Physical Planning, Environment and Conservation, Agriculture and Livestock, Provincial Affairs and local level government, Investment Promotion Authority and the grant for forest clearance authority by the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority.
“The reports stated that the entire land management system in Papua New Guinea was in a mess and recommended that the apecial agriculture business lease process be done away with or a workable policy be formulated on SABL that benefits local landowners.” TIPNG said that back then, the SABL scheme was described by many including the prime minister as “a total failure to landowners” that involved a lot of illegalities. “Now that the Government has made a firm decision to cancel all SABLs, TIPNG calls for the political and administrative will from all departments and organisations responsible for rectifying the issue.”

A Litany of the Corrupt – Johnson Makaen

“If you can’t assure me of my money, you can wait a long time in the hall”

“It’s gavman payday so the staff usually get two and half hours for lunch”

“Highlands election is like coffee season, make money with little effort”

“Donated by Hon Con Artist MP” – Sign on district hospital ambulance

“My clansman is department head, so my claim will get the nod”

“If you want your paper work done, throw some lunch money at the clerk”

“First, I collect my 20% commission on the contract or I look elsewhere”

“I’m the CEO of this Department so I say my wantok gets hired”

“It’s simple, kiss my arse or get passed over for promotion”

“No fuel in the trooper so we can’t respond to your local crime”

“Need money for bride price or compensation? Come to me, your dedicated MP”

“Not much to do at the office so let’s chew buai, gossip and read the paper”

“You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours….

“As long as I remain as your Hon MP, your problem will always be mine”

 

Meeting focuses on addressing sorcery
Post Courier, November 15, 2016

THE Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) three days conference on sorcery and the Churches roles in addressing sorcery gets underway in Lae yesterday.

The conference is to hear from the churches their views and their role in addressing sorcery, a follow up of CLRC’s work on the review of the Sorcery Act of 1973 carried out in 2010- 2011 that resulted in the repeal of the Sorcery Act 1973 in 2013. Heads of churches and government departments all around the country attended the conference starting yesterday. It was highlighted at the conference that a study carried out by CLRC on sorcery and related violence in 2010 found out that many women were victims and survivors of sorcery and sorcery related violence.

CLRC said it was then recommended that the Sorcery Act 1971 be repealed and the churches deal with sorcery given, it is a belief system. “In 2013, Parliament repealed the Sorcery Act 1971 as deterrence measure to address the heinous and tortuous violence subjected to citizens suspected of practicing sorcery, particularly the women and the vulnerable,” according to CLRC.

Unfortunately, the legal measure was not effective as Sorcery related violence and killings continued to increase at an alarming rate. “This prompted the National Government to establish the Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP) in 2015 aimed at addressing the increasing related violence and killing. The SNAP codes are; advocacy and counseling, health, legislative review, and research.”

According to CLRC, the SNAP Committee comprises of key government agencies headed by the Department of Justice and Attorney General and CLRC is a member of the SNAP Committee and its endeavor to address the issue of Sorcery related violence and killings including gender based violence, with the support of United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) who hosted the 3 days conference to hear from Church Leaders and their views and experiences on this pressuring issue.

With the theme of the Conference ‘Churches’ role in addressing sorcery’, they anticipated that this forum will provide valuable insights to assist CLRC and the SNAP develop appropriate policies and legal frameworks to address Sorcery and its related violence and killings, including gender based violence.

 

Diabetes prevalent in PNG communities
Post Courier, November 15,2016, 02:14 am

MORE than 3000 people die from diabetes every year, according to the World Health Organisation.

Globally, diabetes is a growing epidemic among non-communicable diseases and a significant number of cases remained undetected. According to WHO officer-in-charge in PNG Dr Paulinus Sikosana, the latest WHO estimates show the prevalence of diabetes in Papua New Guinea is 11.8 per cent (11.9 per cent for men and 11.6 per cent for women. It is also estimated that one in two people remained undiagnosed, making them particularly susceptible to complications.

These alarming figures were revealed yesterday marking the annual World Diabetes Day celebrations in Port Moresby. As part of the event, WHO and the Health Department set up on-site treatment for diabetes patients at Jack Pidik Park. This year’s theme was Eye’s on Diabetes. Dr Sikosana said: “Going beyond the figures, we must develop policies for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases to address the unhealthy behaviour of people including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. We need an effective public health policy instrument that consists of a series of multisector interventions which aim at improving population diet and physical activity and changes risky habits.”

 

PNG among world’s highest gender violence, sorcery killing
Post Courier, November 18, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea has one of the world’s highest rates of gender violence and sorcery killing.

This is according United Nation Population Fund (UNPF) program analyst Steven Paniu at a gender violence conference in Lae. “From our little data that we have collected on gender violence and sorcery killing especially against women, the result is alarming, PNG is one of the countries with a high number of violence against women cases in 2016,” Mr Paniu said. He said from a research conducted at Divine Word University, two out of three women experience violence daily, from another survey and research carried out in Bougainville, 61.9 per cent of men do admit violence again women. These are reported cases and do not include the unreported ones, especially in the remote areas. “A lots of mothers and women who are victims of abuse and violence find it hard to go to police stations for they fear their lives, if they do report their husbands might do more harm to them, or even kill them, and that is the biggest fear that becomes a barrier for women who are victims of violence going to police stations and report,” Mr Paniu said.

In addition, PNG Tropical Foundation deputy director Ruth Kisam said the Highlands region was the main area in the country with women becoming victims of violence. “W have rolled out awareness programs on gender violence and recently into awareness on sorcery related killings, for sorcerers killed or burned to death are mainly women and girls,” she said.

 

Health survey rollout not going well
Post Courier, November 18,2016, 02:53 am

THE third National Demographic and Health Survey project currently rolled out in the provinces is not progressing well as anticipated. The project which is conducted every ten years by the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, with one of its key divisions, National Statistical Office, has not kept up with payments for interview enumerators. Interviewers, who signed a 90-day contract with NSO, were volunteers who had gone on board on the understanding that their consecutive allowances would be paid in fortnightly installments but this had not happened and the project was stagnating in limbo. An interviewer, who cannot reveal his identity, said they had signed their contracts on merit and in good faith however, NSO had not lived up its agreement.

The National Demographic and Health Survey is conducted every ten years, the first in 1996, the second in 2006 and third this year 2016.

 

Canadian Mining’s Dark Heart

Tallying the human cost of gold in one of the most remote places on Earth

https://thewalrus.ca/canadian-minings-dark-heart/ By Richard Poplak  Oct. 24, 2016

Even in the best of circumstances, PNG is not renowned for law and order. But this was a gold rush, and in the absence of state enforcement, Placer/Barrick tried to curtail incursions with a combined corps of police and hired guards. The illegal miners would not be so easily curtailed. And so the locals and PJV’s security apparatus went to war. It appears that sexual violence had been perpetrated on an industrial scale. …. [For those interested, see the url above]

 

If we want to change PNG, we first must change the boys’ club

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/11/if-we-want-to-change-png-we-first-must-change-the-boys-club.html  21 November.

[See the url above.]

 

Office focuses on tackling online violence
Post Courier, November 22, 2016

THE Office of Censorship has directed its focus to tackling online violence and child abuse. Chief Censor Steven Mala has highlighted that given the modern environment, it was time to think of online violence because the psychological violence is greater than physical violence. “Here in PNG, the Office of Censorship has striven to provide online protection to our children from unsolicited materials, sex abuse, trafficking and portrayal of children for commercial benefits,” he said. Mr Mala said that every year children had become victims of untold violence and faced various forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and danger. One form of abuse was online abuse which was what the Office of Censorship was focusing on in its respective awareness programs nationwide. “Our children today are being exposed to undesirable programs through television broadcasting, radio broadcasting and the daily indecent language used on the street. “We want to ensure that information flowing through the internet is clean and safe when our children are accessing it; we want them to grow with a healthy attitude toward the use of internet so they can better understand it and use it to their benefits and not to abuse the knowledge of internet or technology when they grow up. “Because of this we are working towards implementing a program that can provide the country with a clean Internet feed – which is the Internet Filtering System currently in progress,” Mr Mala said.

 

Plan aims to fight sorcery violence
Post Courier, November 22, 2016

AN ACTION plan aimed at overcoming sorcery related violence will soon be ready for implementation but much support is needed on the national front. A three day conference held in Lae last week by the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission saw representatives from the government, faith based organisations and other non-governmental entities converge to tackle the issue. Long serving Catholic priest Father Philip Gibbs who has committed much of his time to countering the ill effects of sorcery said during the conference that the Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP) was just about ready but needed much support. The action plan dubbed SNAP, focuses on five strategic outcome bases. “SNAP will see us focus on counselling those who have already experienced sorcery related incidents, education for the already identified communities with highest rate of incidence, health for general understanding of the unnecessary loss of life, law and order to better control the violence wrought from such practices and research to better track the effectiveness of the SNAP efforts,” Father Philip said.   He said that in order to implement the plan, much work was required and with that monetary support. He said that the government’s current fiscal predicament meant that financial support must be sourced from supporting agencies which were willing to overcome this serious endemic. Fr Philip said churches, Health Department, Education Department, research facilities, and faith-based organisations and interested NGOs must come together and provide support financially and on the human resource front. “At the moment, because of the financial constraints, we are looking for organisations and entities that are willing to provide people or finances, not for profit or gain but for the purposes of seeing our action plan carried out.”

 

 

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Social Concerns Notes – October 2016

Outlaw forced evictions
Post Courier October 05, 2016

HARSH and oppressive eviction on citizens is a breach of International Human Rights law which unfortunately is becoming more prevalent in major towns and cities in PNG.

United Nations resident co-ordinator Roy Trivedy expressed this concern following continuous media reports over a growing number of forced evictions, either in settlements to make way for development or of individual residents to make way for new owners.

Mr Trivedy urged the Government to legislate to protect vulnerable home owners from forceful evictions.

“The right to adequate housing, which is widely recognised under international human rights law, includes the right to be protected from forced eviction.”

Mr Trivedy said the Government has signed the Sustainable Development Goals which includes ending poverty, ending hunger, health, education, water, inclusive cities, inclusive societies and 10 others to make Papua New Guinea a better place.

“However, forceful eviction is totally against the international human rights law.”

“When people are being evicted from their comfort zones, whoever evicts them must provide necessary surviving needs such as adequate place to stay, water, power, education, job and other necessities in order for them to have a decent lifestyle. This will help reduce poverty,”

Mr Trivedy said developers of Paga Hill, Paga Hill Development Company, faced this very problem.

But they did very well in that rather than simply evict the settlers, they gave alternate land, provided financial assistance and logistics support to relocate to Moresby Northeast. Despite all the resistance (the settlers took the matter all the way to the Supreme Court), the developers persisted, providing literacy, business, and self-governance training, as well as key infrastructure of ablution blocks, power and water at the relocation site, at Tagua Village.

 

Internet price affects economy
Post Courier, October 05, 2016

DELOITTE manager Todd Mclnnis said this yesterday in Port Moresby when presenting the National Research Institute’s latest report on why internet rates are high in Papua New Guinea.

The report identified key issues that have caused high prices of internet rates which includes infrastructure, wholesale, regulation, retail and competition and PNG specific issues.

McInnis said that despite considerable improvements in PNG’s technological architecture including competitions, PNG’s internet infrastructure appears to be reaching its limits and remains among the lowest in the world. According to a 2013 report by the International Telecommunication Union PNG is ranked 163 out of 169 countries in terms of internet infrastructure. The findings however revealed that PNG had an entry level fixed broadband package estimated to cost a high 266 per cent of gross national income per capita. “Since that time internet prices have fallen markedly,” McInnis said.

“In 2014 NICTA estimated that the price of a 1GB (Gigabyte) package ranges from around 20-80 per cent of GNI per capita while current estimates suggest a 1GB package can be obtained for 10 per cent per capita.

“It’s very costly to do business in PNG due to a number of reasons and the high infrastructure maintenance costs which are a direct impact to higher prices,” he said.

McInnis added that another issue is reliability or the lack of it which does not have a direct impact to prices but all contribute to a higher cost environment which obviously leads to higher prices.

 

Jimmy Drekore honoured with ‘Nobel Prize for children’

06 October 2016

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/10/jimmy-drekore-honoured-with-world-of-children-health-award.html#more

JIMMY DREKORE, founder of Simbu Children Foundation, has been awarded what has been termed the ‘Nobel Prize for Child Advocates’. The World of Children Award is the highest recognition for people who contributed exceptionally to the betterment of children and Papua New Guinea is the first country in the Pacific to receive this global accolade. Jimmy Drekore is well known to PNG Attitude readers as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and an established poet. As well as his vital work with the Simbu Children Foundation, he is PNG’s Digicel Man of Honour and President of Simbu Writers Association.

He comes from the rugged mountains of Giu-Emmai in the Sinasina Yongomugl District of Simbu Province and this internationally honour reflects his commitment to improving the lives of sick, orphaned and otherwise disadvantaged children in Simbu over the last 12 years.

Jimmy started SCF in 2004 while working at the Newcrest gold mine on Lihir Island. In May 2013, he resigned from his lucrative job as an analytical chemist to work fulltime on the foundation raising and deploying funds to help children receive specialist medical services that were not available locally.

Through Jimmy’s work, many children with heart disease have been saved by cardiac specialists from Australia who come each year to Port Moresby. SCF also addresses other health issues affecting children’s health and wellbeing like providing CT scans and preventing parent to child transmission of HIV.

“I didn’t think it was real,” Jimmy said when asked how he felt about the award. “It took a while for me to digest and when I accepted it I showed the email to my wife and we were humbled. “The Drekore family dedicates this World of Children Award to Simbu and all who have supported Simbu Children Foundation,” he added.

 

Wealthy Australia ‘outsourced legal & moral obligations’ on Manus

06 October 2016

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/10/wealthy-australia-outsourced-legal-moral-obligations-academics.html#more

‘Money, Manipulation and Misunderstanding on Manus Island’ by Joanne Wallis and Steffen Dalsgaard in the Journal of Pacific History. Download ‘Money, Manipulation & Misunderstanding on Manus

A PAPER by two Australian academics says that the impact of the asylum seeker camp on Manus has “inextricably involved a manipulation of the democratic process and the rule of law”.

Wallis and Dalsgaard write that, even though the so-called “regional resettlement arrangement” has delivered substantial funding to Papua New Guinea and, probably as a result, improved PNG’s relationship with Australia, the burden of the policy “will continue to be borne by ordinary Papua New Guineans, who already face myriad challenges exercising their democratic rights and receiving the protection of the law.”

The authors conclude that “overall, costs arising from the money, manipulation and misunderstanding generated by the regional resettlement arrangement seem likely to outweigh the benefits, particularly for Manusians [who are unlikely to see any benefits once the detention centre is closed] and other ordinary Papua New Guineans.”

They also say that the PNG government bears some responsibility. “It has both failed to live up to democratic processes in agreeing to host the centre and to legally as well as practically ensure the rights and security of those affected by it.

But they see that most of the responsibility lies with Australia, “a wealthy country that has outsourced its legal and moral obligations concerning asylum seekers and refugees.

 

Rehabilitation of prisoners is a challenge in our 19 jails.

Post Courier, October 07, 2016

PNG Correctional Services deputy commissioner operations division Stephen Pokanis said that the rehabilitation program must be supported for a better understanding of what to do in assisting prisoners before their release.

“So many resources are committed to looking after prisoners then on rehabilitation. There is no money for prison industries, technical and professional programs to prepare prisoners before they leave the prisons.” He said that personal relationships for each prisoner were helpful in ensuring the prisoner has good support before facing a parole board.

“When any relationship the prisoner has with his or her family is successful their report will show that, their behavior too in the prison will be considered as well. This is where prisoners many a times face issues when facing the parole board because they have no support inside or outside the prison, they are left frustrated.

We have church activities but that looks at the spiritual side of a person, you need to look at the intellect and physical aspect of any prisoner,” Mr Pokanis said. He reiterated that many factors caused prisoners to go back to jail but lack of rehab was a main factor.

 

Health, church to work together

October 7, 2016, The National

THE Health Department and the Catholic Church health services signed an agreement to work together to deliver services. CCHS board chairman Archbishop Stephen Reichert said the agreement would allow the department to provide funding to provide better health services, with more transparency and accountability. He said the church had parishes in all parts of the country and it would be easier to use their connections to provide service directly to the people. “By having a direct responsibility for funding from the government and the national office and CCHS, we believe that we can introduce our financial governance that will ensure accountability, more responsible use of resources and better outcome,” he said. Reichert said they wanted to strengthen governance and financial management to allow closer adherence to department and CCHS standards. “Catholic Church Health Service has a long history of providing health care to people and the majority of health care offered in remote rural areas and we already mentioned that we are committed to continue. If possible, we can expand to those areas if funding is available in future.”
Department’s strategy policy executive manager Ken Wai said since the passing of the public-private partnership policy in 2014, they had gone into partnership with  churches, non-governmental organisations and other industries to deliver services.

October 2016

PNG political parties must promote more women in politics

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/10/png-political-parties-must-promote-more-women-in-politics.html#more

IT IS up to political parties to boost the number of women in parliament, says Dame Carol Kidu, a former Papua New Guinean opposition leader and minister. Dame Carol said PNG could not be called a representative democracy while half of its population only had a 2.7% stake in parliament.

In 2011, PNG passed a bill sponsored by Dame Carol to establish 22 reserved seats for women but enabling legislation was not passed in time for the 2012 election. Dame Carol entered politics in 1997 and was the only female member of parliament from 2002 until her retirement in 2012, when three women MPs were elected.

She said the chance to reserve seats for women was gone. “It is going to come back to political parties now,” she said. “It is not going to happen by legal reform anymore.”

Dame Carol said this was because an increase in the number of seats would also increase the district service funds that are distributed through MPs. The increase in funds required for 10 extra members would be large and “never get through” parliament, she said.

 

Six men held captive and allegedly tortured over sorcery claims
October 11, 2016

ABOUT six men are held captive, allegedly tortured and threatened with death at Rongoma village in Kagua, Southern Highlands province.  Situation is tense as the men held captive are publicly humiliated and interrogated in an open-air kangaroo court in the center of the village in the full presence of the members of the public including the police. The men are alleged to have practiced sorcery that resulted in the sudden death of one time Kagua Erave MP and peace advocator late Charles Miru Luta who passed away last month.

Late Luta as chairman of the district peace and good order committee was negotiating for peace over the vehicle accident deaths at Koali-Lombo village when he returned home, collapsed and suddenly passed away one evening last month.  Frustrated and suspicious of his sudden passing, angry relatives burnt down several houses and captured the six men suspected of practicing sorcery that resulted in Late Luta’s death. The sorcery suspects are believed to be from the Kulumbu tribe of Kala, Kunu, Koali Lombo, Rongoma and surrounding villages.  Southern Highlands Provincial police commander Supt Sibrom Papoto did say in the media that police are trying to save the men held captive as it was illegal.

An eyewitness who requested anonymity for fear of possible repercussions said the relatives have intoxicated the two main suspects (named) with drugs and forced them to reveal the names of fellow accomplices and sorcerers.  He said the alleged suspects are pierced with hot iron roads and threatened with death.  The source said police are simply outnumbered and over-powered and cannot do much to stop the relatives from hurting the suspects.  Catholic Bishop of Mendi Diocese Donald Lippert posted on his social media face book wall condemning the actions of the relatives to attack the alleged sorcerers.

 

Man escapes sorcery torture
Post Courier, October 14, 2016

ONE of the six men held captive, tortured and threatened with death over sorcery allegations at Rongoma village in Kagua, Southern Highlands Province, has escaped from the jaws of death.

Five others are still held captive while police are out-numbered and over-powered and cannot do much to rescue the men. The victim, Samuel Minapa, 54, of Koali Lombo village is among three others Rodney Yama, Hipson Yama and Kevin Yamo of the Molerepa clan in Koali Lombo. Mr Minapa said he is lucky to be alive after he escaped from his heavily armed captors.

He was among the three men who had their names called out by the two main sorcery suspects Roka Pola and Pendeta Kunu as accomplices in the alleged sorcery related death. Mr Minapa said they were blind-folded and whisked away last Tuesday evening, hidden and were watched by heavily armed guards.

“It was like in the movies.” He and all the three victims denied their part in the sorcery that is alleged to have caused the death of the late Charles Miru Luta, a former Kagua-Erave MP and peace advocate who passed away suddenly, last month. Mr Minapa’s denial only infuriated the kidnappers who continued to torture them and beat them up. “We were stripped naked and hung on the cross while the beating and interrogation continued,” Minapa said, showing his body and his private parts which has been burned with hot irons pierced.

Mr Minape said they were held captive for nearly a week since last Tuesday, and when word went out of their capture, police came in 10 truckloads last Saturday to the village, but did not even make any attempt to rescue them. Mr Minapa said he was lucky to have escaped from his captors after being assisted by a young man. Minapa is pleading with Police Commissioner Gari Baki to intervene and rescue the five others still held captive at the village. He said they were also forcefully intoxicated with illegal drug marijuana by his kidnappers, in order to reveal their part in Luta’s death.

Mr Minapa was treated with burns, bruises and other injuries to his body and private parts yesterday at the Rebiamul Catholic Health Centre in Mt Hagen, after he escaped by hiding in the bushes and jumping onto a passing vehicle to Mt Hagen on Wednesday evening.

 

HIV dilemma
Post Courier, October 14, 2016

UP TO 10,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) face an uncertain future and thousands of women and children will be exposed to health risks after the Australian Government announced it will discontinue funding for recipients of HIV and reproductive health grants across Papua New Guinea.

The lives of the PLHIV are prolonged when they go on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as it suppresses the virus and stops the progression of the disease that leads to full blown AIDS. However, access to that life-saving treatment will end after the Australian High Commission announced its intention to discontinue funding for recipients of HIV and reproductive health grants. The discontinuation of funding will mean women and children loosing access to critical reproductive and child healthcare services, especially in rural and remote communities.

The Post-Courier has obtained a confidential Australian Government Briefing Note titled “The Potential Impact of Australian Government Funded Grant Closures on HIV and Reproductive Health Services in Papua New Guinea”, which was prepared on October 7, 2016 and contains details on 19 NGOs and civil society organisations that will be affected by the funding cut and recommends a smooth transition.

A Papua New Guinean woman living with HIV, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this newspaper yesterday that she was not aware of the Australian Government’s funding of the life-saving medication and the discontinuation of its funding until last month. The ART has kept her alive for the last 14 years. An Australian High Commission spokesperson told this newspaper yesterday that Australia is not withdrawing support from PNG’s HIV response. “Australia is not withdrawing support from the HIV response in Papua New Guinea. All grants related to HIV/AIDS treatment will continue to the planned conclusion date of 30 June 2017, after which new arrangements will be put in place. We are working with the PNG National Department of Health and other stakeholders to help strengthen PNG’s ability to better and more sustainably deliver health services, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive health programs,” she said.

But the response from the National Government to the looming funding shortfall will be haphazard as its lead agency – the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) – is currently at the center of a tug-of-war between NACS director Peter Bire and the council board. Mr Bire, whose contractor as director expired in March this year but continues to hold himself out as the legitimate appointee, told this newspaper that the Australian High Commission did not consult NACS and relevant State agencies before making its decision and the news is shocking.

The Australian Government Briefing Note states that there were 22,548 PLHIV receiving ART as of mid-2016 in PNG. The cessation of grants from the Australian government will affect 8-10,000 PLHIV.

 

Australia halts maternal child health initiative in PNG
Post Courier, October 17, 2016

AUSTRALIA has pulled the plug on one of its most successful health programs in PNG which helped to reduce infant mortality rates since 2011. This follows the announcement last Friday of the cessation of AusAID’s partnership with the Government’s maternal child health initiative program. Papua New Guinea Midwifery Society president and Port Moresby General Hospital maternal unit co-ordinator Jennifer Pyakalyia revealed this during the 13th PNG Nurses Research Symposium in Lae last Friday.

Mrs Pyakalyia said there are 73,000 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in PNG, and this has been the stepping stone for the PNG Government to the MCHI program commencing with AusAid support in collaboration with the Health Department in 2011.

She said the MCHI initiative had brought 11 overseas midwives, two obstetricians and in 2015 a New Zealand midwife to further coach and train midwives and nurses at PMGH, including the building of five midwifery schools that train more than 400 midwives with an average of 80 a year.

She said however, the program ceased this year and she is appealing to the Australian Government to reconsider its decision in ceasing this partnership and continue the relationship with midwives in PNG to work collaboratively in reducing the high mortality rate in the country.

Mrs Pyakalyia said to date, Papua New Guinea tops the list for maternal mortality rates in the Pacific, and is second in the world. She said high mortality rates still remain a challenge in PNG’s health care system currently seen with 800 midwives attending to 250,000 delivery cases annually, which is not good.

Mrs Pyakalyia said the high child mortality rates can only be reduced if there are enough midwifery nurses at all health facilities in PNG.

She said the focus now to reduce infant mortality rates is to develop competent and autonomous clinical midwives to be available in all 89 districts of PNG with the vision of ensuring all pregnant women have access to a safe supervised delivery.

 

Election 2017: Tribalism, ‘Nere Tere’ & voter exploitation of LPV

19 October 2016

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/10/election-2017-tribalism-nere-tere-voter-exploitation-of-lpv.html#more

THE EMERGING hype and calculated manoeuvrings in the run-up to the coming national elections of May-June 2017 have brought to light how limited preferential voting (LPV) can be exploited.

LPV was introduced to empower voters to choose candidates without being forced to select just one who would be the favoured candidate of tribe or clan and who must be voted for as an act of loyalty.

But unintentionally, LPV has empowered shrewd voters to find a way to aggrandise themselves during those months leading to the elections. The ‘Nere Tere’ (South Simbu slang for vote selling) system, referred to in a recent article by Mathias Kin, puts venal voters in a good place. They are effectively able to sell their LPV votes. Not once or twice but thrice.

A smart voter can easily make good money given the gullibility of candidates to do anything they can to secure the chance to step into the parliamentary chamber, that which now houses the ‘Big Book’.

There are some voters who can only sell their second and third preference votes. They do not have the liberty to sell first preferences as tribal responsibility binds that one to their tribe’s chosen contestant.

But smarter voters, equipped with slippery tongues and efficient lies, can sell their LPV votes to more than a dozen candidates; praying on the credulity of power-hungry and less vigilant wannabees desperate to buy their way into the Haus Tambaran.

How much a voter earns, monetarily or in kind, is a function of geography. Voters in the upper highlands of Papua New Guinea, with their proverbial sharp teeth, are set to bite away at anything coming their way. Brace yourselves, intending 2017 candidates. The LPV has empowered voters to become selfishly corrupt. It will be an intending candidate’s nightmare but a voter’s golden harvest time. Selling those preference votes multiple times to multiple candidates can yield a rich crop.

 

Agency to use bicycles to boost outreach activities

October 19, 2016 The National

The Catholic Health Service in Bougainville will introduce bicycles to carry out health programmes in rural areas. The agency has purchased 30 push bikes from Australia for workers to use in outreach activities, mainly immunisation programmes.
In the past years, Catholic Health Service had low immunisation coverage with most of its 13 health facilities reporting below 60 per cent coverage monthly. They are hoping that the bicycles would boost the service. The bikes will be presented to the sisters and officers in charge of respective facilities next month during their annual meeting at Hahela Parish, Buka Island.

‘Let’s show the world we’re as good as anyone,’ says Drekore

21 October 2016

JIMMY Drekore will refer to it as “a nation’s achievement” when, next Thursday, he receives the 2016 World of Children Health Award in New York City.

“Even though it’s Jimmy Drekore receiving the award, I will be proud to represent this beautiful country,” he told the media before leaving Port Moresby for the United States with wife Merlyn In 2005, Mr Drekore founded the Simbu Children Foundation, which strives to provide hope for sick and disadvantaged children. It is a charity that funds airfares, medical costs and expenses for sick village children from Simbu Province to enable them to travel to the city and overseas hospitals for medical tests, operations and other treatments that are unavailable locally.

Mr Drekore was also recognised in 2014 by the Digicel Foundation who gave him PNG’s Man of Honour Award.

In April, he was invited by World of Children to apply for the global award, referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for Children’s Health’. He was among more than 20,000 nominations from 100 countries screened by 39 judges around the globe. “To convince them, I think, is something this country should be proud of that we are as good as anyone out there,” Mr Drekore said.

“Despite everything else, I think it’s about time there’s a good story being told to the world that we are like the rest of the world, doing something for our people and humanity across the globe.

“All in all, it’s something this country should be proud of,” he said.

 

An insider’s view on education reform (and corruption) in PNG: an interview with Peter Michael Magury

By Peter Michael Magury and Grant Walton on October 18, 2016

An insider’s view on education reform (and corruption) in PNG: an interview with Peter Michael Magury

What does it take to implement the biggest education reform in PNG’s recent history? As Statistical Manager with PNG’s National Department of Education (NDoE), Peter Michael Magury – who currently works with the PNG National Research Institute (NRI) – is well positioned to answer this question. Peter was in the engine room of education reform as the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy rolled out in 2012. In a conversation with the Development Policy Centre’s Grant Walton, Peter reflected on the magnitude of the challenge that faced him and his colleagues, and some of the ways they coped with the complexity, long hours, and even offers of bribes, as they oversaw the roll-out of this large-scale policy.

One of the key challenges the NDoE faced in implementing the TFF was the short timeframe in which they needed to deliver it. As outlined here, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced the policy in August 2011, which caught the NDoE by surprise – they’d been planning to increase student enrolments much more slowly. Despite this, the response was quick: by January 2012 the NDoE had released a policy outlining how the TFF would be administered.

This time pressure jolted many in the department into action. To get subsidies for enrolled students out to schools before the start of the school year, Peter and his colleagues spent long days and nights at the office. NDoE officers took turns sleeping at their desks (often without pillows or blankets), while working through the night. While Peter sorted through payments for thousands of schools across the country, he barely saw his family. Dedication of this kind is not generally associated with the PNG public service, but on this occasion many NDoE staff went to extraordinary lengths to get funding to schools.

The tight timeline made explaining the policy to key stakeholders difficult. This resulted in confusion, particularly amongst school management and parents. Peter devoted a lot of time to explaining how the payment would be calculated and how much schools should expect. Yet a number of schools failed to provide enrolment details on which the subsidy payment were to be based, making it difficult for the NDoE to get funding out to schools. Despite these challenges, according to Peter, three-quarters of all schools registered with the NDoE had their funding delivered before the start of the school year, a figure that he claims – and the NRI and ANU’s Lost Decade? report confirms – rose through the first year of implementation (2012). With the promise of more funds and confusion about how subsidies would be calculated, some principals and school managers thought they could influence their allocation. Peter said:

There were a lot of demands coming from principals, and school’s board of management. Sometimes they wanted to get the school fee urgently. And so they would try to give you some money to speed up the process or inflate the fees, so they would get more money.

Despite this pressure Peter insists he did “not accept cash for inflating the TFF [enrolment] counts” (which would result in higher payments); however, he believes many others have been seduced by the lure of a quick kina. The revelation that subsidies worth 50 million kina were paid to ghost schools was, he believes, caused by high levels of collusion between education officials: People in the district, and the province, they knew that those schools were closed or suspended, they still submitted the census forms to get more funds. They also knew that schools without school codes are not registered schools.

 

Violence activist needs help
Post Courier,
October 26, 2016

GENDER-based violence survivor Joy Wartovo’s help desk needs help.

Joy Wartovo was featured in Post-Courier, in 2012 after her plight to save her two children and herself from her violent policeman husband brought a huge public discussion, including the international community on PNG’s gender-based violence.

The following year, she won the bravery and courage award from the City Pharmacy Pride of PNG Women’s awards. Joy now lives in her home in Raluana village, East New Britain, and has created an outreach program that reaches out to survivors of gender-based violence.

She is not a trained counsellor but calls herself a “brukim bush” counsellor, she’s found home to be a place full of women, girls and children in need of support. Outreach Violence Desk was set up last month.

Prior to that, Ms Wartovo has been counselling victims like close friends and giving advice to people enquiring on complaints they have that needs to be reported. She also helps the illiterate people write up affidavits and statements for their complaints.

“I have had challenges on what I was doing but I knew it was the right thing to do,” she said.

A September workshop on GBV gave her insights through networking with participants on how to help each other set up projects to curb gender violence.

She picked up lots of training on how she could educate the Tolai women and girls on issues relating to gender-based violence, human rights and child abuse, which she says is on the rise in East New Britain Province.

In the lead up to the Universal Children’s Day on November 20, Ms Wartovo is empowered and plans to further educate her community raise awareness about child abuse.

“Where do you go to report if you fall victim to any form of abuse? Who should you seek help for counseling? These are some questions we need to answer.

“We plan to use any possible venues to raise the awareness toward and celebrate.

“My aim is to educate children of all age groups on what child abuse is? Where do you go to report if you fall victim to any form of abuse? Who should you seek help for counseling?” she said.

She said education and awareness starts at home and that is the emphasis she is making.

Ms Wartvo plans to work with schools and raise the awareness with children.

 

Trafficking in PNG
Post Courier, October 26, 2016

PEOPLE really need to understand the meaning of human trafficking before we can talk about efforts to combat human trafficking.

“Often people think trafficking requires movement because of the name of the crime but actually people don’t need to be moved in order to be subjected to human trafficking.

The technical definition is the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit a person for profit,” explained Ms Kreider.

“My office, they coordinate the U.S Government’s anti-trafficking efforts but then we also lead our foreign policy efforts to try to help countries all around the world to better combat human trafficking because this is really a problem that happens in every country around the world.”

I’m here this week to meet with the government and nongovernmental organisations and other stakeholders to talk about human trafficking.

“To talk about the law that was passed a couple of years ago and how those efforts are coming in to address the issue and to try help people as they make progress on combatting the crime and to raise awareness to the issue.

“The Criminal Code was amended in 2013 to add an amendment that prohibits all forms of human trafficking. “And that was the first time that all forms of human trafficking were criminalised here in Papua New Guinea.”

 

Special report

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/10/a-special-report-on-2017-budget-to-be.html

 

Cheats cheated

The National, October 25

A GROUP of Grade 12 students went on a rampage in their school after realising that the answer sheets they had bought from a man before the national examinations started last week were fake.
Eastern Highlands provincial police commander Superintendent Alex N’Drasal said police were investigating the incident involving the students from Asaroka Secondary School outside Goroka.
He said the students had collected K1000 to buy the answers sheets from the man.
They realised after the completion of the national examinations last Friday that the answers sheets were fake. “They had memorised all the answers and (used them) in their examination papers,” he said.

“So after the examination, they destroyed school properties. The principal called the police. But the students had escaped (when police arrived). We are now investigating the damage and will soon round them up.”  He said reports reaching his office indicated that many Grade 10 and 12 students in the province had been buying fake answer sheets which they thought were genuine.
Meanwhile, N’Drasal said a man arrested earlier for attempting to sell Grade 10 and 12 students at the Lufa Secondary School “answer sheets” had been released from police custody.
Margaret’s Return – Positive Initiative by Catholic Church in Enga

Margaret, from Pina in Enga, was tortured after having been accused of causing a young boy to faint. The boy on recovering said that his fainting had been caused by witchcraft from Margaret.  She was rescued by the diocesan youth coordinator and an expatriate Lutheran Missionary along with help from Bishop Arnold Orowae and Sr. John Mary, FIHM of the Catholic Diocese of Wabag. Margaret was admitted to the Yampu Health Centre with severe burns over much of her body on 29th August 2016. She was discharged from the hospital on 20th September and was given a place to stay in a community near Yampu. On 29th September there was the first attempt at mediation with people at Pina asking how they could solve the issue in a Christian way.  The Diocesan Papa Group coordinator John Yukus and the Diocesan Youth Coordinator worked together to resolve the issue. The Catholic Bishop of Wabag instructed the Catholic faithful to say sorry to Margaret on behalf of their tribe and to welcome her back to the community.

On the 23 October 2016 the Diocesan Papa Group brought Margaret to Pina. The Bishop (in his absence) sent a Deacon with the group and let them use his car. The group included

Diocesan Papa Group Coordinator John Yukus

Pompobus Parish Chairman: Joe Berom

Pompobus Parish:  Lazarus Pitu

Pompobus Parish:  James Pyarangae

Pompobus Parish:  James Pyamban

Sari Parish: Timothy Kurai

Sari Parish: John Pambu

Sari Parish and OMS chair: Anton Yongapen

Deacon Stephen Yange (Sikiro)

Fr. Louis Kandamain – Pina parish

Pina Parish:  Dickson Tanda

Pina Parish:  Andrew Lukas

Par Parish: Petrus Andanda

Pina (Lakopenda Health centre OIC): Ted Dale

At the meeting John Yukus said how he had taken care of Margaret for a month but that it is difficult because he has many children to take care of. He wanted the people of Pina, especially the Sikin clan to take her back to her community.

Anton Yongapen, magistrate with OMS told the people not to do anything against Margaret.  Any concerns should be raised before the court. He warned all people especially the man that, you will be charged or arrested if the matter was taken to court. Therefore, i encourage you not to believe any Sanguma around in your community.

The men’s group told the people at Pina not to believe in “sanguma”.  They urged the people at Pina to do away with belief in sanguma because it is a false belief.  “Our forefathers had no belief in such a thing so we should not believe in such things.”

The brother of the “victim” said sorry to Margaret for what had been done to her. He said he was sorry for what they had done to her because of the sickness of his small brother.  He joined with the others declaring that “sanguma” is a false belief. He gave Margaret one pig, and the Christian community at Pina gave her some money (K100) to support their apology. The deputy chairman of the parish apologised to Margaret for not being around when she was accused in August.  They were elsewhere attending the funeral for a catechist and were not present when she was tortured by some boys from the village.  The church leader gave her K100 along with the apology.  He said that “if anything happens to you Margaret we will die with you. Those who are sanguma believers can kill us all. “

In accepting their apology Margaret said that she had nothing to do with sanguma.  It was people who believed in sanguma who accused and tortured her. “What you did you did it to your own sister. In the eyes of God and the people of God I forgive you for what you did to me your own sister.  I forgive you and I pray that God will forgive you for what you did to me.”  After that she accepted the pig and the money. All people welcomed Margaret with tears and huge her and welcome her back to the community.

A man from the Sikin people said that they were mistaken and they had done wrong.  They conveyed also their apology to Bishop Arnold Orowae.  They asked the Bishop to forgive them and that he could come to Pina again as usual.   They concluded that belief in sanguma is wrong and that if anyone dies and they want to accuse Margaret, that they will take the matter to court. If anyone from neighbouring tribe of Pina dies and try to blame Sikin or accuse  Margaret we will take the matter to court. This warning message must clear and every people living around Aiel valley must understand the cause for the death and do not try to accuse anyone in future.

The head of the local Health Centre said that people in the village are not going to work, but they spend their days playing cards and then they complain that Margaret “did it to us.”  He warned the people of Pina not to talk about sanguma and that they should take people who are sick to the health centre for treatment. He warned that if anything happens let doctors and nurses tell you the cause of the sickness or death.

[Phone interview with Dickson Tanda 24th October 2016]

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Social Concerns Notes – September 2016

Australia & PNG warn Manus detainees: ‘No future for you here’

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/09/australia-png-warn-manus-detainees-no-future-for-you-here.html

AUSTRALIA and Papua New Guinea are escalating efforts to clear the Manus Island detention centre, telling refugees they must settle elsewhere in PNG, while warning they are preparing to deport asylum seekers whose protection claims fail.

A four-page “communication guide” given to Manus Island detainees on Tuesday tells them “there is no future for you here”: The purpose of this centre is for refugee status processing. All processing will end soon If you are a refugee, you can either settle in PNG or depart from PNG to any country where you have a right to live. If you are not a refugee, you can either voluntarily depart from PNG to any country where you can have a right to live. The police may direct the movement of those who refuse to cooperate

Those found to be refugees will be moved to Foxtrot compound. Those with a ‘negative’ assessment will be moved to Mike. The document hints at “changes to the services and conditions” for the different groups. Those inside the detention believe those found not to be refugees will have their conditions significantly worsened in an effort to encourage them to leave. Their rights to limited movement, and their ability to access cigarettes, phone credit at the internal store, are expected to be cut.

“We will give you further information about these changes soon,” the document says. The inducements for people to leave PNG – in the form of cash payments – have been raised, reportedly up to $20,000, though this is denied by the immigration department. Efforts to resettle refugees in PNG have foundered. PNG told the UN last week more than 70 people had been resettled but the Guardian understands this figure includes refugees with severe medical conditions who have been moved to a Port Moresby hotel so they can access the capital’s hospital. They remain dependent on Australian government-funded support. Fewer than 20 have successfully found houses and ongoing employment.

Many of those who were moved, mostly to Lae, have been assaulted, robbed and, in one case, left sleeping on the streets. Several have travelled back to Manus and tried to break back into detention.

 Eviction Attempt on West Papuans     http://www.emtv.com.pg/news/2016/08/another-eviction-attempt-on-west-papuans-in-port-moresby/    Distraught West Papuan refugees in Port Moresby are pleading with the Government of Papua New Guinea to send them to a third country following another eviction attempt on them. The refugees say the eviction attempt and the court battle that they are pursuing over the property under dispute shows a distinct lack of government support to them as refugees. The eviction exercise began around midday today on a property in Port Moresby by members of the Hohola police station. Donatus Karuri, has been living on this property for over 30 years. He says they were not give any prior eviction notice. The police showed up this morning and forced them to start vacating the premises.

“Where will we go?” he asks. The property in Hohola, has become an informal refugee camp for West Papuans who have come to PNG seeking safety and protection. Donatus said this eviction attempt and the fact that they are representing themselves in court shows the lack of PNG government concern over their plight. “If the PNG government is not concerned, send us to a third country,” Donatus pleaded, repeating a plea he has been making for some time now because of the lack of government support to them as refugees. More than 50 men, women and children live on the property in Hohola. While the title of the property is a matter before the courts, the bigger question remains; How best will the PNG government provide practical support towards people who have been recognised as refugees, and are living on PNG soil.

 

Australia Sounds Alarm on Rice

https://www.facebook.com/groups/326819464091972/permalink/1076740599099851/

Sometimes all the hallmarks of an impending disaster are plain to see. The course of action has been charted and the engine is running at full steam, but a myriad of obstacles both big and small cover the tracks. Is there anything that can stop the train before it is too late? In this case the proverbial train is PNG’s proposed rice policy which aims to make the country’s rice production self-sufficient by 2030. This is no small task. However, it seems that the PNG government is determined to press ahead.

The challenge is to increase domestic rice production by 20-fold, from around 15,000 tons currently to 300,000 tons by 2030, according to the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Tommy Tomscoll, in his introduction of the policy in parliament. Despite a poor track record of previous government attempts to increase rice production by smallholder farmers, the government seems convinced that a new super-sized approach of focusing on large-scale highly mechanised irrigated farming will generate success.

Under the proposal, pioneering status will be granted to the investor willing to commit a large amount of funds (at least K200 million but possibly over US$2 billion) to build large scale rice farms in PNG. The pioneer investor will then receive protection and concessions to help it establish production, brand recognition and a customer base.

It just so happens that an Indonesian backed company – Naima Agro-Industry Ltd – has been negotiating with the PNG government over the last eight years to invest US$2 billion in a Central Province rice project. This project was approved earlier this year, and it may not come as a surprise that Naima has been slated to receive pioneer status. According to Trukai Industries, which currently commands an 80 per cent share of the PNG rice market, the PNG government is planning to implement an import quota system which would provide Naima with control over 80 per cent of the PNG rice market, clearly at Trukai’s expense.

There are two important points to note here. First, the proposed quota system will not require Naima to supply 80 per cent of the PNG rice market with domestically grown rice but instead allow it to supply it through imported rice. Second, Naima’s 80 per cent share of the PNG rice market would be the result of protective measures provided to it by the PNG government. This is in contrast to Trukai’s current 80 per cent market share, which according to the ICCC’s Review reflects its product quality, strong distribution network, and marketing efforts, rather than any exercise of market power.

Under the proposal, total rice imports will be restricted, and because increases in domestic rice production are unlikely to occur for many years, the amount of rice supplied in PNG will fall relative to demand. The likely result will be an increase in rice prices in PNG. There is no guarantee that these profits will be used to invest in domestic rice production in PNG at all, and if anything there may be a strong incentive for Naima to limit increases in PNG rice production to the extent that it keeps rice prices high.

How high can the price of rice in PNG go?  [See the url for the whole article].

 

PNG spots high rates child violence in Asia-Pacific region
Post Courier. September 08,2016, 02:12 am

ALTHOUGH there is no reliable national data on violence against children, the few available small scale studies have demonstrated that children in Papua New Guinea experience some of the highest rates of violence in the Asia Pacific Region, a study has revealed. According to United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund PNG End Violence against Children Campaign: 2016-2017 Strategy Summary, these children experience physical, sexual and emotional violence and around 80 per cent verbal abuse. The study also revealed that general lawlessness contributed to around 50 per cent of children feeling unsafe in their communities at night. 85 per cent of men reported that they beat their children while 29 per cent of children were beaten at least once a week by male family members.

The report also summarised that sexual violence is also perpetrated against children where in some areas in the country, 55 per cent of children experience some form of sexual abuse. Young girls and those living with relatives and step parents are at higher risk of sexual violence perpetrated against them by male relatives, the study showed. Available evidence from a domestic violence center in Port Moresby indicates that 60 per cent of children who went to the centre with their abused mothers had been abused as well. As a result of these, many more children are made vulnerable through the endemic rates of violence perpetrated against women. According to the study, some of the things that are linked to increased vulnerability of girls and women to violence and abuse are forms of sexual exploitation such as early marriage, polygamy, and the payment of bride price remains legal and are commonly practiced in many communities in PNG, with some girls forced to marry as early as 12 years old.

 

Madang settlements progress
Post Courier. September 06, 2016

Three urban settlements in Madang province that are notorious for crime have turned a new leaf.

Pilot poultry projects were established recently at Sisiak 3, Finch road and Kerema compound with their youth taking ownership and pushing for more participation by their peers.

According to project coordinator Chris Torot, the project is an initiative of the crime prevention and restoration justice office, which the Madang provincial government has undertaken to facilitate.

“These projects are a window for other projects that the provincial government will look forward to carry out in the settlements and other areas in the province. The team is grateful for the support of the provincial administrator who has been supportive to see the project is carried out,” said Mr Torot.

Under the Department of Justice and Attorney General, the poultry project is a priority area and would enable the engagement of youths in development projects such as a poultry business to sustain their livelihoods. “The main aim of the project is to see that youths could take responsibility to participate in the projects therefore could reduce bad social behavior and crime rates in the province,” he said.

Meanwhile youths in the three pilot project areas have vowed to work together with stakeholders in similar projects to reduce law and order issues in the province.

 

B’ville family finds refuge in Australia
Post Courier, September 09,2016

THE family of a primary school teacher beheaded for allegedly practicing sorcery in Bougainville in April, 2013, are now Australian refugees.

Former primary school teacher Helen Rumbali was beheaded by a mob in Lopele village, Southern Bougainville, after being accused of sorcery. The ordeal involved torture for three days and nights, before finally being beheaded. Houses were burnt down and the immediate family of the accused fled the village and eventually evacuated to a safe house out of Bougainville. The ordeal has been traumatising for the Rumbali family who have now found a new home outside of Bougainville. This week, it was officially announced that the family have successfully sought refugee status in Australia.

It was reported in The Australian newspaper this week that the Refugee Review Tribunal ruled that PNG police were unable to guarantee the safety of the man and his family, who fled their remote Bougainville village after attacks on their immediate and extended relatives over sorcery claims.

But The Australian newspaper reported that an unpublished copy of the case determination, seen by The Australian, suggested the use of sorcery as a justification for violent attacks which may actually be increasing despite a law change following the 2013 torture and murder of a school teacher in southern Bougainville by a mob convinced she was a witch. “The beheading of Helen Rumbali was the catalyst for the repeal of the Sorcery Act 1971, which provided a partial legal defence to a defendant charged with murder if he or she suspected the victim of black magic,’’ the tribunal noted. “(However) more recent reports indicate that in some parts of the country, sorcery-related violence has actually increased after 2013.” Experts on PNG also said sorcery claims were sometimes maliciously levelled at individuals during disputes about money or between families.

 

Rural health centres in Chimbu reduce operations

September 9, 2016 The National

TEN rural health centres run by the Catholic Church in Chimbu have scaled down operations.
That has put pressure on the healthcare system in the province, the chief executive officer of the Kundiawa General Hospital, Mathew Kaluvia, says. Kaluvia told The National yesterday that Catholic Health Services secretary Sr Elizabeth Koai advised KGH in a letter that the shutting down of 10 rural health centres was due to lack of resources and funding from the Government. Koai said they could not continue to provide health services because there was no funds to pay staff and no money to sustain operations.
She said they tried to continue to operate with limited resources available until they were exhausted.
Kaluvia is concerned about the impact it was going to have and has requested urgent intervention from the Health Department and the Government. “All the patients in these rural health centres are seeking medical treatment at the hospital and we are now running out of medicines,” he said.
“Our medical personnel are also becoming exhausted and it’s a very tough situation for us here on the ground.

Understanding needed on violence against children

September 9, 2016 The National

LITTLE priority is given to child protection due to a lack of general understanding about violence against children. This is among a list of findings from the Save the Children report on The Children Protection Systems in PNG which was launched yesterday. Family PNG operations manager Denga Ilave said there was a big need for crisis accommodation for children while their cases were processed. She said more than 10 child abuse cases in Lae had been committed through the national court and two of them were prosecuted.
“Two of those cases have been prosecuted and we are happy for those results and it’s the collective efforts of everyone that’s working together,” Ilave said.
“Our programme is to provide case management services to family and sexual violence survivors and child abuse.
“Children’s Crisis Centre in Lae has very limited space to accommodate children needing immediate crisis accommodation. “Child abuse cases are very critical and have to be placed where they are safe and we still have child abuse cases that need crisis accommodation.” Ilave acknowledged the many non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations that were providing services and awareness in terms of prevention. “I would like to recognise many of these NGOs that we work together. I hope that with all these challenges, we can work together. “With the report that Save the Children has launched, it helps me feel supported.

Addicts come clean

September 9, 2016 The National

MORE than 1000 people in Western Highlands have admitted publically that they are marijuana addicts and promised to change. Of that, 35 are women, 70 high and secondary school students and 16 others appear to have lost their senses, according to an advocate against marijuana. The figures were released on Wednesday by the chairman of the Stopim Drug Marijuana (SDM) association Ps Johnny Mawa from Western Highlands.
Mawa said the association was formed in 2011 at Kolge village outside Mt Hagen city and the purpose of it was to deal with the use of marijuana and save the affected population. He said marijuana was becoming a major problem and with awareness, it could change the people. Mawa said law enforcers such as the police and the court could impose heavy penalties but this would not do much as people would still get to live their lifestyles. He said there could be more addicts adding that the association was carrying out awareness with the support of SDM members who were using their own resources and money.
“My team is reaching out to the entire province as we have seen that marijuana is the root cause of every problem here,” Mawa said.

 

Violence cases increasing, Soi says

September 9, 2016 The National

THERE is an increase in cases of violence against women and children being reported to the Port Moresby General Hospital Family Support Centre, clinic manager Tessie Soi says. Soi said 70 per cent of children under the age of 16 have been brought to the centre and the rate was alarming since people from all over Papua New Guinea resided in Port Moresby. “I like to urge Papua New Guineans out there, please, if anyone is sexually abused or violated, bring them to the centre within the 72 hours to prevent HIV, pregnancy, hepatitis B,” she said. “We continue with the psychological first aid then we just do counselling then just trying to tell them that they are not at fault especially children.”
She said in a month they received over 30 patients and every year they saw over 1000 patients and that has increased compared to past years. “The severity of physical abuse is getting worse, before we were seeing just a black eye and now it’s cut and chopping and all those sorts of things and gang rapes are becoming high again,” she said.
Church Partnerships Program supports training for HIV counsellors
Post Courier, September 08, 2016

People living with HIV are being trained to become HIV-counsellors under a church-led initiative to improve the level of support to available to those with the virus. Twenty-five people living with HIV and their carers from across the Highlands region attended a recent counsellor training session in Mt Hagen hosted by the United Church of PNG. The session was funded by the Church Partnership Program – a successful partnership between the Australian Government, Papua New Guinea’s seven mainline churches and their seven respective Australian faith-based NGOs. HIV-positive woman Monica Joe, 40, from Hela Province, was one of 25 participants who attended the HIV and AIDS counselling session, hosted by the United Church of PNG. She said she was grateful for the assistance she received from the Kupari Voluntary Counselling and Testing centre, run by the Catholic Church. “In 2013, I took a rapid blood test at the Kupari VCT centre, as this was the only centre in my area offering care services to people living with HIV,” Ms Joe said. “When I found out about my status, I realised I had to do more to sustain my life for the sake of my children.” “I started to take the antiretroviral drugs which were introduced that year then worked for the centre as a counsellor and mentor for women living with the virus. Ms Joe said networks already existed in churches – such as youth ministries, and women’s and men’s fellowships – which could be used to sensitise congregations to the needs of HIV positive people.

 

Church’s health services in crisis

September 13, 2016 The National

CHURCH health services in Northern will shut down at the end this month if Government funding is not forthcoming, Anglican archbishop Clive Igara says. He said that 50 per cent of the health services in the province were run by the Anglican Church’s health services. “We are in a crisis situation because we have not been receiving the regular monthly grants for almost four months now,” Igara told The National yesterday. “The last grants we received were in June this year and that was it. “We have not received any funding since and we are in a very critical situation. “The church health services have started scaling down their manpower and the next step would be to shut down.”

Schools yet to get full funding

September 13, 2016 The National

SCHOOLS in National Capital District have not received their full allocation of funding under the Government’s tuition fee free (TFF) policy and most of them are just surviving. One of the biggest schools in NCD, Wardstrip Primary, with a roll of more than 3,000, is struggling, like others, to keep up with expenses and general operation of the school, head teacher Emily Ricky says. Ricky said the policy for the allocation of the TFF had changed over the years and this year the schools were receiving funding in three components. “They said they were going to pay the cash for administration. Commodity and infrastructure would be held back,” Ricky said. “They have confused us, this term for this quarter we received only K93,000 which is just one bit of the payment. They paid us K97,000 and then K73,000 (in the first and second quarters).
“Last year, we were paid K400,000 in the first batch and now we are receiving much lesser.
“They would pay one component from the ratio that they accumulated for the number of children we had and we would receive about K400,000.
“This year, the policy has changed. “We are only getting 30 per cent for the cash component so that’s not enough to run the school administration and all the little expenditures like bills. “When that cash component comes, we are expected to cover everything, maintenance, buy text books and administrations.” School treasurer Matthew Kulimbao said in 2013 and 2014, the Government paid in two batches. “The costs should cover all the damage, property repair and all these expenses but that’s all being excluded now,” he said. “As the biggest primary school in NCD with an enrolment of 3100 and a large number of teachers, we are struggling to manage within our means. “They paid 70 per cent for the first lot and 30 per cent towards the end of the year. But starting last year and this year, we don’t know what component they are paying.
Keep it below 1.5 – impacts of climate change on the Pacific

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/09/keep-it-below-15-impacts-of-climate-change-on-the-pacific.html#more

THE CALLS by Pacific small island developing states to curb emissions and reduce climate change impact are gradually being heard post the 2015 Paris Agreement. The reality is that some of these islands are headed for total annihilation. A 2014 United Nations report has locked in a 1.3 meter sea level rise, even if we reduce emissions tomorrow. This was a conservative estimate and other projections suggest that it may already be too late for some populations. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a 2 meter rise in sea level will see a displacement of close to two million people. This would wipe out atoll nations across the Pacific.

Extreme weather events such as the increased frequency and stronger intensity of cyclones, extreme and prolonged droughts, ocean acidification, water table contamination by salt water and coastal erosion are all threatening our Pacific people. In February, the Fiji islands witnessed the strongest ever cyclone in the southern hemisphere with an estimated $US1.4 billion of damage. As many as 40% of Fiji’s population was affected and many villages are still recovering in the wake of the destruction. Tropical cyclone Zena also wreaked havoc on Tonga and Fiji in April, killing three people. A similar disaster, severe tropical cyclone Pam in 2015, inundated and destroyed two of Tuvalu’s islands.

Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Kiribati have recently faced similar disasters and the terrifying consequences have led to redefining the concept of security in the 21st century. The 2015-2016 El Nino events affected 2.7 million people in Papua New Guinea, where the government spent more than $US60 million in development funds. This was one of the worst droughts to hit the Pacific. The UN estimated around 4.3 million people in 12 Pacific countries were affected.

We must respect the right to live and exist and to save our future. As stated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the small islands are a magnifying glass; exposing the vulnerabilities that all countries around the world may face in the future. And they know the world needs to act now because, if it fails to do so, it will condemn our future and the future of everyone on the planet.

 

EU Launches ‘2016-2020 Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategy’ for Papua New Guinea

http://news.pngfacts.com/2016/09/eu-launches-2016-2020-human-rights-and.html

Port Moresby, 9 September 2016 The European Union (EU) and two of its Member States, France and United Kingdom, have recently endorsed a five-year ‘2016-2020 Country Strategy on Human Rights and Democracy for Papua New Guinea’. The main activities to drive the strategy will be financed under the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy (EIDHR), other relevant financing instruments, and through targeted public diplomacy.
The strategy identifies three priority areas which the European Union, jointly with France and United Kingdom, willpursue in PNG. These are to:
· Promote a Human Rights culture in Papua New Guinea society,
· Support the ratification and implementation of Human Rights international conventions and instruments, and
· Strengthen good governance, democracy and rule of law.
In announcing this strategy, the EU Delegation and its Member States, France and United Kingdom, issue the following joint statement: “Papua New Guinea society is going through a vibrant transformation and the human rights landscape is evolving, while adequate responses and implementation by Government agencies are still progressing. Against this background, the EU Delegation and EU Member States will explore opportunities to align with government efforts and support areas where meaningful impact can be achieved.” The strategy targets to promote activities in two separate ways. It aims to build on former and ongoing projects, in particular initiatives to prevent violence against women, through awareness raising, targeting leadership and decision makers and empowering survivors. It will also promote activities that support Human Rights Defenders, provide technical assistance to counter People Trafficking or assist with the development of the Public Finance Management Road Map. Moreover, the strategy will also explore issues such as empowering women, raising awareness of LGBTI rights, advocacy of death penalty abolition, international treaties compliance, establishment of a Human Rights Institution and support to the Referendum on Bougainville.

Read more: http://news.pngfacts.com/2016/09/eu-launches-2016-2020-human-rights-and.html#ixzz4K7qtw4wP

 

PNG’s economic history: a failure to deliver to the people

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/09/pngs-economic-history-a-failure-to-deliver-to-the-people.html#more   Paul Flanagan | Edited extracts

The PNG economy, after allowing for inflation, is 3.3 times larger than in 1975. Many people doubted that this would be possible at the time of Independence given the challenges and uncertainties facing the new country. This growth is probably clearest in Port Moresby – it is a much more modern city with freeways, flyovers, luxury hotels, traffic jams, pollution, large shopping complexes and many taller buildings downtown. This in part reflects the strong urban bias of PNG’s economic policies.

For PNG, almost all of this real growth can be accounted for from population increase. Since Independence, the population has risen from 2.9 million to an estimated 7.6 million. For every Papua New Guinean at the time of independence, there are now 2.6 people. The number of people in the formal sector has more than doubled according to Bank PNG business surveys. While jobs growth is positive (a 2.1 times increase from 1978-2014), it is disappointing that it has not even kept up with population (a 2.6 times increase). In other words, the share of working-age people getting jobs in the formal economy has been falling. This is not inclusive growth.

The start of production from the Kutubu oil fields and new mines in the early 1990s led to massive increases in GDP of around 36% between 1991 and 1994 (even larger than the 25% increase in 2014 and 2015 driven by the commencement of the PNG LNG project). However, by 1994, PNG had fallen into recession.  And, since 2015, history is repeating itself as PNG has probably fallen into recession again after the promise of rivers of resource revenues led to poor fiscal, monetary and structural policies.

A better measure of economic performance is to focus on non-resource GDP which grew very slowly for the first two decades from 1980. Over the late 2000s, there was more rapid growth, but this had slowed by 2010. An even better measure of economic performance is to use per capita figures – how much income is available per person. This trended down through both the 1980s and 1990s.

The sharpest decline was related to the economic crisis of the late 1990s. A pattern of recovery slowly commenced from 2005, but this has flattened out since 2012 and is now in serious decline.

By 2015, using a five-year average, incomes are 4% lower than they were in 1980 and the drop in real incomes is larger if the comparison is made between 1980 and 2015 – a drop of 8%. On this key measure of economic well-being, real incomes in PNG have gone backwards. And emerging data for 2016 indicates this is getting worse. This is very disappointing, and a long way from the aspirations of people at the time of Independence. It is also a long way from future aspirations shown in Vision 2050. [See the full article at the url above]

Sorcery related killings on a rise
Post Courier, Sept 19, 2016

NORTHERN Province police commander Lincoln Gerari has received a threat on his life.The threat was issued following the deployment of police to his Katuna village in the North Coast area of the province, which saw his fellow clansmen threaten him with death through sorcery.

This has now earned the ire of the PPC who said that with such threats, people who believe in sorcery have gone on to kill innocent people without any evidence. “What these people have done, they have killed another person after claiming they (deceased) killed another through sorcery. You cannot prove a sorcery killing so why should you kill another person which will land you in jail. I cannot comprehend what these people are thinking,” MrGerari said. He added that the recent barbaric killing of a 45-year-old father and his 29-year-old son who had their heads chopped off by villagers at Mora in the Ijivitari district as suspects of sorcery was not right. He revealed that the two blamed each other openly over the killing of a young man by a crocodile. They were then brought before the village and without evidence and suspecting sorcery they had their necks chopped off. “It is high time the government reintroduced the repealed Sorcery Act. This will allow police to act upon sorcery related cases which will in turn save innocent lives and stop unnecessary sorcery killings,” he said. In another case 12 men in the same district are on the run after they accused a man of sorcery and killed his brother. They also destroyed his house and his food garden at Uvivi village. Mr Gerari said people are openly accusing others of sorcery so the government should reintroduce the Sorcery Act and allow the police to deal with it. He said that with sorcery cases there would be cause to look at the circumstantial evidence presented and thus get an elder in the village to describe what can be used in sorcery. This would then allow for the evidence to be presented as admissible or opinion evidence. I want the government to intervene and do something about sorcery related killings, Mr Gerari said.

 

Delay of TFF to affect students
Post Courier, September 21, 2016

THOUSANDS of students attending five secondary and seven high schools throughout Bouganville will be going home early because the schools are yet to receive their term three tuition fee free school subsidies. Principals of these schools met yesterday and decided to send all students home one week early before the Term Three break and not to return for Term Four after the one-week break.

The slow release of the term three TFF school subsidies has frustrated many service providers in the autonomous region who were longer willing to supply the schools on credit basis because they have already incurred high debts for their services. Secondary and High Schools Forum chairman Martin Takali, who is Hutjena Secondary School principal, said at the meeting yesterday that if the money did not reach the schools by week’s end “we will not continue Term 4 and this will greatly affect the Grade 10 and Grade 12 examinations coming up in week two, three and four next term.” Mr Takali said that if the Education Department did pay, then it must pay for both terms Three and Four in full because the Term Three payment will cover the expenses that had already been incurred by the schools from service providers.

 

Govt owes Church agencies
Post Courier, September 21, 2016

THE church health agencies have not received funds to pay for staff salaries for the month of August and operational cost for more than K8 million, says Christian Health Services chief executive officer Joseph Sika. He said that despite an assurance by Health Secretary Pascoe Kase that some money had been released for July and August, the information was incorrect because staff have not been paid for the past three pay days which is a total of six weeks.

On Monday Mr Kase confirmed the released of funds and K20 million captured in the Supplementary Budget, was sufficient enough to take the Church Health Services right through the end of this year. Mr Sika said that K9.4 million was released to the agency headquarters in July which included a shortfall from the previous month. For the month of August, the church agencies have not received just over K8 million to cater for staff salaries and the operational component. The agency receives about K8 million monthly under revised budget from a previous K12 million. “Government is not serious about the funding. This is affecting service delivery,” Mr Sika said. Mr Sika said that from verbal reports reaching his office, scale-down of services and cuts in staff ceiling have happened for Jiwaka (Kujip), Chimbu (nine facilities), Southern Highlands, West Sepik (Raiho), Madang, and Milne Bay and Northern.

These health facilities have scaled down services but not totally shut down. Christian Health Services has a staff ceiling of 3290 and 780 health facilities nationwide

 

Battling TB on the frontline in PNG
Post Courier, September 19,2016, 06:00 pm

For Papua New Guinean health worker Celestine I’Ova, tackling the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in her country has become somewhat of a personal crusade, after losing both of her parents to TB and contracting the disease herself. More than 9,000 people have died from TB in PNG over the past three years – including hundreds of children – and it is people like Celestine working on the frontline who urgently need support to tackle this terrible but treatable disease. “I always wanted to help sick people get better, but I never wanted to work with TB patients. I was afraid I would catch it,” says Celestine.  Celestine is a health worker at a small rural clinic in Papua New Guinea’s Central Province. The clinic is a basic shack, typical of many across PNG. There are just six staff to provide support for around 15,000 people, some of them travelling six hours by boat for medical attention.

In PNG, TB is a growing epidemic. Over the past three years, it has killed 9,000 people in the Pacific island nation, with children particularly susceptible to the most disabling forms of the disease. By comparison, the Ebola virus, which galvanised such international fear and concern, killed 11,300 people globally in the same period.

 

Article on economy

http://devpolicy.org/pngs-discretionary-expenditure-crunch-20160919/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=6f16909efb-Devpolicy_News_Sept_23_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-6f16909efb-227683090

 

Refugees refuse offer

September 23, 2016 The National

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato says most refugees based at the Manus regional processing centre have refused to be resettled in PNG. They want a third country to accept them, he said. Pato, who co-chaired a recent United Nations General Assembly meeting to address the huge movements of refugees and migrants, told of the constraints PNG faced in dealing with refugees and migrants. “Papua New Guinea currently hosts 1,007 refugees and other migrants from around the world at the regional processing facility on Manus Island,” he said. “And of these, 671 are prima facie refugees, 204 asylum seekers and 132 migrants.” He said the Manus centre was also a demonstration of PNG’s humanitarian gesture, goodwill and recognition of its international human rights obligations. He said PNG and Australia were in the process of closing down the Manus centre following the Supreme Court ruling in April declaring the detention as unconstitutional and in breach of their personal liberties and freedom.
Pato said the refugees were allowed to move around freely.

 

Five women get pride awards
Post Courier, September 24, 2016

Five Papua New Guinean women were the recipients of the prestigious 2016 Pride of PNG Awards.

The annual awards are funded by the City Pharmacy Group and co-sponsored by media organizations Post-Courier, PNGFM and EMTEK (EMTV) and are given to women bringing change in their communities and have little to no media coverage.

This year’s winners were Enid Barlong Kantha (bravery and courage), Mary Pakore Tore (care and compassion), Anna Hilda (community spirit), Sister Pauline Marie Kagl (education/role model) and Stephanie Paraide (young Papua New Guinean). For the environment category, the judges said there was no clear winner. The awards patron, Governor General Sir Michael Ogio, said the women had shown the ‘true spirit’ of PNG by intervening and changing their communities with limited resources. “They have, instead, stood up, used whatever limited resources they had to and serve their communities, oftentimes, at personal expense to themselves and their families. In their selflessness, they have shown the true spirit of Papua New Guinea,” he said. “And they do all this without expectation, without applaud, and sometimes, without reward. They do so, simply because they saw a need in their community and knew that they could meet it. They do so, because they care. They do so because they had to.” Sir Michael said this year’s winners are heroes and should be the inspiration for Papua New Guineans. “For the rest of us tonight and for all the people of Papua New Guinea, let these heroes, and all the past heroes of the last 10 years of the Pride of PNG Awards for Women, be our inspiration.

 

PNG supports Paris agreement

September 26, 2016 TheNational  http://www.thenational.com.pg/png-supports-paris-agreement/

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato has deposited PNG’s instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to the United Nations in New York last week.
The special event was hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly in New York which Pato attended on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Pato said depositing the instrument followed PNG’s support for consensus to adopt the Paris Agreement in Dec 2015 in Paris and the subsequent signing of the agreement on April 22, 2016 in New York.
“Parliament made a unanimous decision in Aug 2016 to ratify the accord, where 68 members of Parliament voted in support of the accord’s ratification with no votes against it,” he said. “So the deposit of the instrument of ratification now formalises the application of the Paris Agreement in Papua New Guinea.” He said 60 countries out of 185 signatories have ratified the accord. “This accounts for 48 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions and needs a further 7.2 per cent for the Paris Agreement to enter into force.” Pato said one of the two requirements for Paris Agreement to enter into force was fulfilled, which is for 55 parties to the accord to ratify it. “The second precondition not met yet is for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emitters to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the depositary.”

 

Momis urges B’ville unity as O’Neill government plays hard ball

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has made a call for unity to Bougainvilleans as the autonomous region prepares to decide its political future through a referendum. “Bougainvilleans must unite to peacefully implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the referendum and let it be a process of integrity,” Dr Momis said.  “Due to the Bougainville crisis it is only in Bougainville that we have the unique opportunity to develop a new socio-economic political order and determine our own political future.” He said it was imperative that Bougainvilleans make an informed decision to determine their future and they must be prepared to except the consequences of their decision in the referendum.

“If we mess it up now, then we are bound to fail and not realise our aspirations,” he said. “But if we follow through with the Bougainville Peace Agreement and respect the rule of law, promote good governance and accept responsibility for our actions, then we will be able to liberate ourselves.”

The referendum to determine Bougainville’s political future has been tentatively scheduled for 15 June 2019. Meanwhile the ABG and the PNG national government remain at loggerheads over the O’Neill government’s continued delay in releasing funds owed to Bougainville.

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