Social Concerns Notes – October 2020

Doctor raises concern over increasing number of children with cancer

October 7, 2020The National

THE number of children with cancer recorded at the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) is increasing every year but there are still many children with cancer in communities. Acting paediatric coordinator Dr Gwenda Anga said “In the last five years, it is estimated that around 300 children with cancer were seen at the hospital,” she said. “Initially, we had 20-30 per year and then it went up to 50-60 per year. “But we are still missing a lot of children.
“The increasing numbers is due to more awareness among health workers in recognising the signs and symptoms and referring them for further care.
“About 30 per cent of our children successfully complete treatment.” Dr Anga said it was important that children were brought to the hospital early to receive the treatment available.
She said the treatment for each childhood cancer was different and the regimes ranged from three months to two years – depending on the diagnosis.

We must change from extraction to inclusion

06 October 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/10/png-must-change-from-extraction-to-inclusion.html#more

PORT MORESBY – With the release of a new report today, Act Now!, Jubilee Australia, and the Oakland Institute, call for an urgent change of course from political leaders in Papua New Guinea. The report, ‘From Extraction to Inclusion’, analyses the country’s economic and development performance since its independence in 1975. The main finding is that the PNG economy has relied on the large-scale extraction of abundant minerals and other natural resources, under the illusion it will improve the lives of its citizens. Yet, on most indicators, PNG is faring worse than its Pacific neighbours and any progress that has been achieved does not reflect the huge value of the resources extracted.

“PNG has allowed some of the world’s largest mining, petroleum and timber companies onto its shores to extract gold, silver, copper, nickel, oil, natural gas, tropical hardwoods and palm oil,” said Dr Luke Fletcher, lead author of the report. “Yet, positive changes have been limited and the economic and social development that has been repeatedly promised has not been delivered. ”The report reveals that relying on the extraction of natural resources has failed to improve people’s lives for a number of reasons. The extractive industries tend to operate as enclaves with little connection to the rest of the economy. Foreign companies are allowed to externalise their enormous social and environmental costs while banking most of the profits offshore. They also contribute relatively little to government revenues. And the growth of these sectors has been accompanied by poor governance, theft of public money, and corruption.

“PNG has already lost much of its accessible forests – part of the third largest rainforest in the world – and this is a disaster for a country where forests constitute a key source of construction materials, food, and medicine for large swathes of the population,” said Frederic Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute. “The pollution of land and waterways by mining waste has also had devastating consequences for local communities, compromising their access to fresh water, to food sources, and to prime gardening land.”

‘From Extraction to Inclusion’ also details how extractive operations often involve widespread human rights abuses. Communities opposing extractive projects face repression, threats, and violence. Through its comprehensive and objective review of the facts and figures, this new report makes it clear that it is urgent for PNG to change course and put people back at the centre of its development policies.

Frieda mine plan disregards human rights

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/10/frieda-mine-plan-disregards-human-rights.html#more

09 October 2020

Lyanne Togiba and Ben DOHERTY
PORT MORESBY – The plan for the largest mine in Papua New Guinea’s history carries a risk of catastrophic loss of life and environmental destruction and “appears to disregard the human rights of those affected”, according to United Nations officials. In an extraordinary intervention, 10 UN special rapporteurs have written with “serious concerns” to the governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia, China, and Canada, as well as the Chinese state-owned developers of the gold, copper and silver mine proposed for the remote Frieda river in the country’s north. The UN’s special rapporteur on toxic wastes, Baskut Tuncak – who has since retired from that role – and nine other senior UN officials, jointly signed letters in July “to express our serious concern regarding the potential and actual threats to life, health, bodily integrity, water [and] food”.

The letters ask for governments and the company, PanAust, to respond to key questions including an alleged “lack of information for free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous people” to the mine proceeding. The mine, if approved and built, would be the largest in PNG’s history, and one of the largest in the world, covering 16,000 hectares. To be built on the Frieda river, a tributary to the Sepik in the north of New Guinea island, it is forecast to yield gold, silver and copper worth an estimated US$1.5bn a year for more than 30 years.

The UN rapporteurs argue the “the project and its implementation so far appears to disregard the human rights of those affected”. There is particular concern a proposed dam to store up to 1,500 Mt of the mine’s tailings could break, destroying villages downriver. “The proposed location is a seismically active area. The risk of major earthquake causing damage to the dam will persist for millions of years. PanAust said it had engaged in “extensive and ongoing engagement … over several decades” with those affected by the mine, running information sessions in nearly 140 villages, attended by more than 18,000 people.

Do we really need sand mining in Madang?

https://mylandmycountry.wordpress.com/2020/10/13/do-we-really-need-sand-mining-in-madang/

As a Singaporean company with Chinese interests works to get approval to mine sand along North Coast of Madang, many Papua New Guineans are unaware of the impacts of this multibillion dollar global industry. Sand Mining remains, largely, under the radar in Papua New Guinea. The lack of understanding of the environmental and social impacts of sand mining puts communities  at risk of bad decisions that could cause  widespread destruction. Niugini Sands Limited wants to mine a  50 kilometer  stretch of beaches where people from 10  communities live.  The beaches also include the villages of Tokain and Karkum where endangered leatherback turtles come to nest every year. PanAust said it had engaged in “extensive and ongoing engagement … over several decades” with those affected by the mine, running information sessions in nearly 140 villages, attended by more than 18,000 people.

Moresby’s gangsters have high level connections

29 October 2020 – Scott Waide.

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/10/moresbys-gangsters-have-high-level-connections.html#more

For nearly two decades, senior journalists who covered the work of foreign cartels in Papua New Guinea have continually warned successive governments of the impending threat of organised crime. It is no longer just a threat.

In 2003, a father of three, came to the EMTV office in Port Moresby, his face covered in blood from a cut on his head. Earlier, he had an altercation with a Chinese shop owner in Gerehu after finding that his primary school age child had become addicted to playing horse race gambling machines. The machines were made of wood and the electronic parts brought in from China. The businesses that made them had warehouses in Hohola, Gerehu and several other locations around Port Moresby. They were essentially, slot gambling units that paid small amounts of money if your ‘horse’ won.  The machines had no clear legal classification at the time. They could not be easily taxed under the gaming laws and they were a cross between poker machines and arcade games. The man had found his son at one of the shops playing the machines when he should have been in school. He confronted the Chinese shop owner and the argument escalated into a fight.

This was just one of many confrontations that happened in a space of three years. It took several public protests, intervention by churches, the Public Accounts Committee and other government agencies before the proverbial wheels of justice began turning … slowly. The Public Accounts Committee, under chairman and Bogia MP John Hickey went after the cartels, summoning every relevant government agency including the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC). Hickey became the target of several attacks.  In one instance, in the middle of a Public Accounts Committee hearing, his house, in a relatively well protected area, was broken into. Police were called to the scene. He suspended the hearing temporarily and was in subsequent days placed under police guard. IRC Commissioner David Sode was called to give evidence. His testimony at the hearing exposed a network of businesses dealing in counterfeit products, illegal gambling and arms smuggling. Nearly every one of them was being investigated by the IRC for tax evasion.

As the investigation continued on several fronts, the cartels were bold enough to attempt to assassinate David Sode himself. Information was leaked from within their own circles and the police and the IRC came down hard and arrested a kingpin. According to the evidence gathered, the man had five gun licenses in his name, all issued by the government of Papua New Guinea. Within government circles, there was a lot of frustration.  Officers within the National Intelligence Organisation (NIO) said they had limited success convincing police to arrest several key figures involved in human trafficking and gun smuggling, despite repeated offences and evidence provided to police.

During joint raids by customs, IRC and the police Transnational Crimes Unit, the media was shown documents which were authorisations from senior ministers and high ranking government officials. The cartels were using government officials to authorise their operations. Several arrests were made. The lead police officers, the NIO and transnational crime unit faced stiff resistance when they tried to deport a group of foreign nationals during that period. The Chinese Embassy paid for lawyers to represent them, arguing that they had the right to remain in the country. The head of the NIO, Bob Nenta, eventually succeeded in ensuring the deportation happened. At the end of that episode, several people were deported and the horserace machine operation crushed.

Mother Saved

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Social Concerns Notes – September 2020

Medical stores blamed for disrupting medical supply chain

September 10, 2020 The National

THE five area medical stores caused many problems in the medicine distribution supply chain, a Public Accounts Committee inquiry revealed.
Committee chairman Sir John Pundari told Parliament yesterday that the medical stores were the “bottlenecks and may have outlived their usefulness”.
Sir John said a lot of medicine went missing or were misplaced in the stores.
“They have a slow response to orders and poor recording of medicine levels, (contributing) to medicine shortages in the country,” he said. He said security issues in stores around the country were raised during the inquiry by health department and health facility staff.

Bishop condemns rape, opposes prostitution

September 9, 2020 The National

A CHURCH leader has condemned as inhuman and cruel the recent gang-rape and assault of a sex worker in Port Moresby who was left to die on a roadside.
Evangelical Lutheran Church PNG head bishop Rev Dr Jack Urame said the men involved had taken advantage of her vulnerability and should face the law for it.
“They have no respect for the defenceless woman,” Rev Urame said.
“They only wanted to satisfy their desire without considering her safety.”
He said just because she was a sex worker did not mean she deserved that kind of cruel treatment. “No matter who she is and what she is doing, she is still human and deserves better treatment,” he said. “Gang-rape and beating a woman in such a cruel manner is unacceptable. “It indicates how disrespectful some men are to women, especially women in vulnerable situations.” He however opposed prostitution, saying human beings are created in God’s image “and not commodities to be sold”. “God created human beings and accorded them with dignity and value, not with price tags,” he said. “We are created in God’s image and we are his temple.”

Reflect on nation’s achievement, failures, says Bishop Urame

September 15, 2020The National

FORTY-five years as an independent nation is a long journey and everyone should critically reflect on the nation’s achievements and failures, a church head says. The achievements are our strengths and pride while the failures are lessons to learn from and find new ways to improve, said Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG head bishop Rev Jack Urame.
“There is huge potential to do more and better but we must admit that there are critical development challenges we must address and overcome them,” he said.
“Some of the challenges are manageable but others are not. On the occasion of our 45th independence anniversary, let us reflect on some of the challenges and address them so that future generations do not suffer the consequences of our ignorance today.
“We must admit that there is a lack of progressive development. There is an imbalance in the physical growth of our country.
“Most of the infrastructure development is concentrated in urban areas and many rural communities are neglected. Many of the colonial infrastructures are falling apart.
“Roads are deteriorating, bridges are collapsing, schools and health facilities are aging while law and order issues are increasing. “After 45 years, life in many rural communities has not improved much while urban migration continues to increase, thus urban settlements have expanded throughout. “This adds additional social and economic stress to the country.
“We have not sufficiently addressed the economic inequality – there are enough resources in the country to meet the needs of the citizens but living standard has not improved much and many families are living below the poverty line.”
Urame said the wealth of the nation was not properly managed.

Public service a threat to security & unity

16 September 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/09/public-service-a-threat-to-security-unity.html

NEWS DESK| Kalang FM News PORT MORESBY – Acting Chief Secretary to Government, Ambassador Isaac Lupari says the public service is a threat to national unity and security. He says the system of the PNG public service is broken.

The reason he says this is because there is no reform or policy development. Controls are lacking and appointments and recruitment are based on association rather than merit. Lupari says discipline is poor without sufficient investment in skills development and training. He says at all levels appointments are made based on political affiliation and place of birth.

At the provincial and district level, 99% of public servants in provincial administrations and 95% in the districts come from within, as a result PNG continues to see a continued decline in services. This extends also to our police service, schools, and health clinics. Lupari says public servants have become territorial where they act on self-interest rather than the interests of the nation, and they have failed to deliver for the public they serve. The government spends K4.6 billion each year on public service payroll.

“A stable and capable public service is critical to the unity and long term economic and social security our nation,” Lupari added

The Covid-19 ‘new normal’

16 September 2020

MICHAEL DOM
LAE – The global pandemic of Covid-19 has had many repercussions to daily life and keeping abreast with World Health Organisation recommendations, the Papua New Guinea government has also defined the ‘new normal’ for its citizens. But to thousands of the peri-urban poor, struggling to survive during trying economic times, the impact of policing health measures is just another normal day.

At Nine Mile on the Okuk Highway outside Lae City, PNG’s economic hub, market vendors, mostly mothers, have set up their vegetable selling activities along the side of the road, seated one meter away from moving traffic. The highway-side markets have been going strong since the middle of May this year, even before the first official nationwide lockdown ended on 2 June. It’s a basic survival need for households with annual incomes less than 2,000 Euro (K8,000).Nine Mile market is one of a number of popular fresh vegetable markets set up on an informal basis along the highway leading out of Lae. It operates in the afternoons seven days a week but was officially closed during the April to June enforced Covid-19 lock-down, when an expatriate worker fell ill to the viral infection in a hotel at Ten Mile.

Informal marketing is the most important economic earning activity for more than half of the population while it is estimated that only about 15% of the country’s eight million people have formal means of employment. Yet informal vegetable markets are given scant attention by local level governments for even the most basic services, such as sanitation as simple as a source of clean water to wash hands, let alone a latrine. The best the women marketers at Nine Mile can hope for is that the police won’t turn up to run them off and destroy their produce, as was done to women in a similar predicament in the capital city Port Moresby.

This normal is not new.

True independence starts in the mind.

18 September 2020   https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/09/true-independence-starts-in-the-mind.html#more

LAE – If you don’t like the state of the country, commit yourself to changing it.  You don’t have to be in politics to do it. If there is trash outside your fence, pick it up. It is not the job of city and town authorities to pick it up for you. If people aren’t doing it, commit time to teaching them what is right.

It takes time and effort. Nobody gets paid. Don’t expect rewards. Building a country doesn’t work that way. If you have a job, if you are employed, arrive 15 minutes early every day. Work one hour extra each week for free. If you are unemployed or work for yourself, think about ways to help your community, instead of being a burden on those around you. Fix the potholes in your road. Yes, your road. Not the government’s road.

Make sure the children in your neighborhood, your community, your family, go to school on time. Help your relatives start businesses. Help your brothers and sisters create jobs. Help them to be independent. Why should jobs be created only by foreign investors? Why should we work for slave wages when it is in our hands to create work for our own people? If we are to work for pay, it must be for ourselves and for our own countrymen and women who understand the complexities of PNG society and the family obligations that come with it. Our systems are different.

Teach the youth in the community about the true reasons why the government allows alcohol to exist and allows the troubles it causes to go unabated. Teach them about the slavery of mind and spirit caused by alcohol. We have great opportunities here in this country. We have a young country waiting to be molded into how we want it to be. It starts with little actions, hard work and consistency. Stop sending lazy petitions to heaven when you have not done the work here on earth. Stop demanding for an end to corruption when you are a person that turns up late for work and mistreats your fellow Papua New Guinean. Shame the government into acting by being better than your leaders. Only an independent thinking people will choose the best leaders to represent them.

Mass arrest

September 21, 2020The NationalMain Stories

A GROUP of 81 students is expected in court today charged with cult worshipping, homebrew and drug consumption and drinking in a public place. East New Britain police commander Chief Inspector Joseph Tabli said two girls reported the matter to the Kokopo police station on Saturday after they were robbed of their bags and phones while delivering food to their boyfriends in the group. Police found the 81 students at the Mamapua beach between Butuwin and the Kokopo Secondary School in Kokopo. He said when police arrived, the students aged between 16 and 21 were allegedly in the middle of “worshiping” a young man. The 81 were taken to the Kokopo police station where they were detained overnight before being interrogated.
“The reason we kept them overnight was because they were drunk and unable to talk properly,’’ Tabali said. “On Sunday we began talking to them and called all their parents who expressed their disappointment over the activities of their sons.” He said 74 had been charged with loitering and released on a K100 police bail. One is charged with being in possession of marijuana and detained.
Six have been charged with being in possession of homebrew and granted a K400 police bail each.
The 81 students are expected to appear in the Kokopo court today.
Police will write to the schools explaining why the students have been arrested.
“While we will charge them according to the law, the schools will deal with them according to their own rules and regulations,” Tabali said. He urged parents to know the whereabouts of their children at all times. “If your child comes home late, question him or her where they have been.
“Know where your child is. You do not want police calling you to come down to the station or even worse the morgue to identify your child. “Talk to your children every day. Remind them the laws are there to protect everyone in the community and breaking the law will see them facing police.”

Mass surrender to law

September 28, 2020The National

MORE than 300 men have surrendered to Madang police for various crimes including arson, rape and cult activities among other offences, police commander Supt Mazuc Rubiang says.
He said 272 of them were from the Transgogol area.
Supt Rubiang said 83 had been processed and 25 of them were arrested and charged with wilful murder and sent to Beon jail. He said a further 36 men from South Ambenob surrendered and were being kept at Jomba cell to be screened and processed.
According to police reports, the majority of the men said they wanted peace and normalcy to return to their communities and had turned themselves in following weeks of law and order awareness by stakeholders in Madang. Meanwhile, Supt Rubiang said three major car accidents were reported in Madang on Saturday.

Children diagnosed late

September 28, 2020The National

MANY children with cancer in Papua New Guinea are diagnosed when they are in the late stage of the disease, doctors say. Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) general pediatric surgeon Dr Jack Mulu said in other countries, children were taken to the hospital earlier, diagnosed and treated appropriately. “For our setting they come at a very late presentation,” he said.
Dr Mulu was speaking during the childhood cancer awareness month celebration at the PMGH children’s cancer ward on Friday. “It has been very challenging managing these cases,” he said.
“Sometimes we just say we open the patient up, it goes beyond the operative, we say we can’t go any more because it’s inoperable. “Sometimes, when it is operable, we do everything under the sun and then we say we’ve done everything under the sun.
“With prognosis, sometimes they do well, sometimes they don’t but we continue and provide services. “We do what we can.” Dr Mulu said they had problems, shortfalls and limitations, but doctors at PMGH always did their best to treat and care for patients.
He said there were three pediatric surgeons in the country at the moment and three more were undergoing training. He said it was important to think about the other parts of the country as well and they hoped to train more doctors in the future.
PMGH acting pediatric coordinator Dr Gwenda Anga said there were 40-60 children with cancer coming through PMGH yearly and 20 were on treatment currently.

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Social Concerns Notes – August 2020

PNG’s job crisis and COVID-19
https://devpolicy.org/pngs-job-crisis-and-covid-19-20200807/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pngs-job-crisis-and-covid-19-20200807

There is no doubt COVID-19 is causing great economic damage all round the world, and Papua New Guinea is no exception. One estimate from the PNG Trade Union Congress is that more than 10,000 jobs in the private sector have been lost due to the pandemic and the subsequent state of emergency. Nambawan Super has recently indicated that unemployment claims are up by 25% in May and June.

There is no official data yet, but, if we accept the 10,000 figure, how big a blow is it? The sad reality is that PNG has been haemorrhaging jobs since 2013, the year in which PNG LNG construction was completed.

The Bank of PNG (BPNG) tracks formal sector employment every quarter. June 2013 was actually the highest that index has ever reached since independence. For the purposes of this analysis, we set that quarter equal to 100. Employment has fallen most quarters since. There was a brief recovery around the time of APEC at the end of 2018, but the index had fallen by March of this year to 87.6, its lowest since June 2013. This is a level not seen since 2009 – that is, more than a decade ago. In the meantime, the population would have grown by some 30%.

ANZ Research Pacific Insight 10 August 2020

PNG’s budget assumptions under threat, cuts inevitable

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Hon James Marape said recently that he was handed a weak economy in 2019 and that’s the main reason government revenue in 2020 will be well below expectations.

PNG’s economic performance has been below par for several years. The economy has been bumping around the bottom of the cycle waiting for a recovery in construction, in particular resource investment, to come through. Without such an upturn, 2020 was never going to be better. With no recovery in sight, it is no surprise that government revenue will undershoot targets this year, notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19.

With a smaller revenue pool and a large component of budget deficit yet to be funded (see below), we believe the government’s goal of sticking to the record spend of K18.7bn in 2020 is ambitious. In our view, it will have no choice but to cut expenditure via a supplementary budget later this year.

Many dying from preventable diseases, says doctor

August 12, 2020The National

MANY people are dying of preventable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and cancer, while everyone is focusing on the Covid-19, a doctor says.
Deputy chairman of the PNG Health Board Dr Mathias Sapuri said while the Covid-19 pandemic was a major health issue that required the government’s focus, the health system must be strengthened to cope with the Covid-19 as well as existing health challenges.
Dr Sapuri said the government must be mindful of preventable deaths from other diseases due to the reduced availability of essential drugs and medicines while more attention was given to the Covid-19.
“Most of our routine health services have ceased or scaled down and significantly affecting our nation’s health service delivery,” he said.
“We do not know the actual figures yet but reports are saying (that) more deaths are occurring due to diseases like cancers, malaria, TB and others.”….
“Public must not be made to feel scared to go to hospitals and get treatment,” he said.
“People with existing diseases need care and treatment.”
Dr Sapuri said medicines from overseas and health consumable supplies for many other health conditions were way past the eight month deficit.
The non-availability of these medicines has resulted in patients not getting the treatment they needed.

Sea piracy a concern

August 17, 2020The National

Samarai-murua MP Isi Henry Leonard says that criminals are strangling efforts to deliver much needed government services and economic projects in his large maritime electorate in Milne Bay. “We are really at the mercy of the pirates,” he said.
“We are spending most of our funds, time and energy in chasing them instead of delivering our programmes. “We just spend K500,000 last month in deploying a mobile squad from Port Moresby to hunt them (pirates) down in our many isolated islands.” Leonard said this on Friday during the presentation of the Samarai-Murua 2018 DSIP acquittal report to the Department of Implementation and Rural Development secretary Aihi Vaki. “The increase of sea piracy is also another very important factor that has caused a lot of business confidence to drop in the district and also affected the movement of people,” he said..

Clinic on the verge of closing

August 17, 2020The National

THE Salvation Army Clinic at Koki in Moresby South, National Capital District, will close in the next two weeks if funding from the government is not made available, an official says.
Salvation Army land and property manager Bugave Kada said the clinic was operating with its own means to serve the community since March 31. “It has been very challenging for us with limited funds to continue the operation and has come to a state that we cannot continue anymore,” he said.
The clinic signed a memorandum of agreement in 2018 with the Health Department but were never given funding until Oct 2019, receiving only K200,000. The funds sustained the clinic for six months until March this year. “Even with the Covid-19 and the closure of other clinic commends we are still operating to serve the community”
Kada thanked their main partners, the Health Department, NCD Provincial Health Authority and Christian Health Services who supported the clinic during the last few months
According to SA acting director for health Charlie Clement the clinic served a total population of about 27,000.
Services offered include general outpatient, baby clinic, immunisation, post-antenatal care, people living with HIV and Aids and other services offered at the clinic free.
Clement said the closure of the clinic would make life harder for the people.
He appealed to the Health Department, NCD PHA, and NCDC to assist with funding for the clinic.

Lack of audit raises concern

August 27, 2020The National

TRANSPARENCY International PNG has raised serious concerns on the Government’s lack of follow through on its promise to conduct and table a proper audit of Covid-19 state of emergency funding. TIPNG chair Peter Aitsi said with the August sitting of Parliament commencing this week, the Government had 21 days left to produce and table in Parliament a report on SOE expenditure, as required under Section 8 (3) of the Emergency Act 2020.
Aitsi said an announcement by Police Minister Bryan Kramer last month on the completion of an internal audit report covering K45.3 million in funding released to the Health Department raised a number of questions:
What about the funds and emergency supplies donated, given or otherwise injected into Covid-19 emergency response operations (figures TIPNG based on available public records indicate an estimated total value of these external contributions at approximately K145 million)?;
If not the Emergency Controller, then who is responsible for reporting on this additional tranche of funding?; and,
Why did the Government not use an independent external auditing firm? “TIPNG has not been able to see a financial report which comprehensively captures all the various contributions (funding and in kind) provided by both the international and domestic community in supplementing government allocations for Covid-19 emergency response operations,” Aitsi said.
“Our country has seen the overwhelming support and contributions made by international and national organisations to Covid-19 emergency operations since February.
“These contributions are all publicised on both mainstream and social media.
“However, as it stands, the government has yet to fully account for the total value of resources received and expended under the Covid-19 SOE,” he said.

PNG to be officially declared a ‘Christian country’

12:55 pm on 19 August 2020 

https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/423898/png-to-be-officially-declared-a-christian-country

Papua New Guinea’s National Executive Council has approved a proposal to formally declare the country Christian under the Constitution.

The Post Courier newspaper reported the preamble to the Constitution said PNG was founded on two basic principles – of cultural heritage and Christianity.

Prime Minister James Marape said PNG had more than 20 different Christian churches.

“Many who claim to be Christian integrate their Christian faith with some indigenous beliefs and practices,” he said. “The influence of the church has over the years transformed many societies across the country to the extent of replacing some of their cultural beliefs, while some have merged culture with religion.

Marape also said the churches provided 60 to 80 percent of social and welfare services in the country. “Church networks are trusted by most people.”

He said the proposal of declaring PNG a Christian country was justified by the overwhelming number of citizens following the religion and the influence it had on Papua New Guineans.

However he added that while the preamble starts with “noble traditions and the Christian principles”, Section 45 of the Constitution recognised other religions as well.

“Every person is given the freedom of religion and to practice it as long as it does not interfere with the freedom of others, but this freedom is not complete freedom.

“It can be regulated or restricted by the government for purposes of defence, public safety, public order, welfare and public health as per section 38 (general qualifications and qualified rights) requirements.”

Marape said Section 55 also further promoted equality of citizens irrespective of religion.

He said therefore any amendment to declare PNG a Christian country would not have any major constitutional implications.

The unChristianity of becoming a Christian state

30 August 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/08/the-unchristianity-of-becoming-a-christian-state.html#more

PORT MORESBY – In a recent article, Dr Eugene Ezebilo of the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute asserts that “PNG’s Constitution does not recognise Christianity as the country’s religion”.

He proposes that if PNG wants to be a Christian state, Section 45 of the Constitution should be amended to specifically recognise Christianity as the state religion and a state church be established.

Following this, the PNG National Executive Council recently approved a proposal to formally declare PNG a Christian country under the Constitution.

While this may seem logical for a country like PNG where 97% of its people identify as Christians, the framers of the Constitution understood that it would result in religious authoritarianism, a pernicious consequence.

The PNG Constitution finds its origins in God. It protects every man, woman and child and gives them certain unalienable rights while simultaneously conferring upon them certain obligations and duties towards fellow humans.

One could certainly argue, and indeed I would, that the PNG Constitution is founded on objective moral laws, values and duties, and the idea that God is the source of objective moral laws, values and duties, and, therefore, that God is the source of the Constitution of PNG.

The Preamble to the Constitution states in no uncertain terms that this nation was established under the “guiding hand of God” and pledges to pass on to future generations the “Christian principles that are ours now”.

Beyond these references in the Preamble, however, Dr Ezebilo is correct that Christianity or God is not explicitly part of the PNG Constitution.

Section 45 deals with freedom of conscience, thought and religion, and makes no reference to Christianity. This omission is intentional.

First, an explicit preference for a particular religion in Section 45 would be a direct contradiction of that very clause.

Second, Section 45 emanates from rich Christian concepts that find their origins in God.

The freedom to choose was given by God so that humans can decide to love and obey Him freely, for without the freedom to choose a person cannot truly love.

It ultimately follows that a person can decide to not love and obey his fellow humans and God. Therefore, Section 45 when referring to the human right of freedom of conscience, thought and religion is not in contradiction with Christian principles and teaching. It is consistent with them.

The case of Somare v Zurenuoc 2016, regarding the removal of sculptures from the National Parliament, hinged on the National Court’s interpretation of Section 45 of the Constitution.

The court’s interpretation was as follows: that everyone has the right to practice, manifest and propagate their religion and beliefs.

However, they are subject to a number of restrictions including not interfering with the freedom of others, not intervening in an unsolicited way into the religious affairs of other persons who have different beliefs, and, finally, not forcing their religion on other persons.

This interpretation is in harmony with Christianity.

The unification of the church and state would present several significant problems. Throughout history, it has resulted in states usurping power by claiming divine authority for political use.

The inquisitions throughout Europe at the beginning of the twelfth century are evidence of states managed by tyrannical clergies and evil politicians.

Second, the separation prevents undue influence on the church by the state. Every government measure is compelled by the use of force, which stands in direct contradiction to the principles of the Christian church.

The union of the church and state would result in the latter corrupting the former. History is replete with the desecration of churches by the state, such as the infiltration and corruption of the early Christian church by the Roman government.

Third, which church would actually be selected as the state church? PNG is home to a number of thriving and in some ways competing denominations.

The American legislator Thomas Jefferson recognised the importance of the separation of church and state.

Thanks to his and others’ efforts, the First Amendment to the US Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

This ensures both that the government does not show preference to a certain religion and that the government does not take away an individual’s ability to exercise religion.

In other words, the church should not rule over the state, and the state cannot rule over the church. With the separation of church and state, the freedom of religion and conscience is assured, conflict becomes less likely and cooperation for the common good is much more likely.

Christianity contains the foundational principles that permeate the Constitution of PNG. A lack of preference for Christianity and establishment of any official religion in the PNG Constitution is crucial for the sustenance of order and harmony in PNG.

It would be unchristian to amend the Constitution to give preference to Christianity.

Robin Oge is a medical doctor and public health scientist at the Port Moresby General Hospital

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Social Concerns Notes – July 2020

PNG hospitals brace for Covid-19 surge. 27 July 2020 https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/07/png-hospitals-brace-for-covid-19-surge.html

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Covid-19 outbreak could overwhelm its health system within days, the country’s pandemic chief has warned, as masks have been made compulsory in the capital, and the government has called in the World Health Organisation and the military for help.
PNG’s pandemic response controller David Manning said a dedicated isolation unit
established in Port Moresby to treat Covid-19 could soon be overwhelmed if current infections trends continue. The largest number of infections are of healthcare workers who have been working in a Covid-19 testing lab and been exposed.
The governor of Port Moresby, Powes Parkop, told Australia’s ABC that the capital faced “a situation that we dreaded, simply because of the impact of the virus and also our capacity to respond. “We simply don’t have the capacity, we don’t have enough space in isolation facilities, in the hospital, we don’t have enough medical officers and we don’t have enough equipment,” he said. By global standards, PNG’s known Covid-19 infections remain low – with just 39 confirmed cases – but it has trebled in just over a week. There are also significant concerns that infection rates are far higher than reported because of low testing rates, particularly in remote areas. Manning conceded that outside Port Moresby testing has been “very limited”.
A nationwide testing sweep during the country’s declared state of emergency found at least 300 people with Covid-19 antibodies: it appears they have had the disease and recovered. PNG had gone more than a month without reporting any new cases of Covid, before two major clusters, first at the country’s military headquarters, Murray Barracks, and then at
Port Moresby general hospital. Marape announced masks would be compulsory outside the home in Port Moresby, a city where more than half of the nearly 500,000 population live in densely crowded unofficial settlements where social distancing is difficult. PAPUA NEW GUINEANS AGAINST VIOLENCE
Dominica Bessie Abo
Young Dr Rebecca Williams serving the remote rural people of Kompiam diligently for five years now. Many a times she reach the sick and dying on foot walking the rough terrains of Kompiam in Enga. She could have easily chosen to work in a Provincial or City Hospital but has committed her life to serving the majority of our population in remote rural area.
As her mother I was concerned about her taking up this call initially but her reply to me was, “If I don’t do it who else is going to do it.” There are other health care giver’s out there like
her serving the population at large in the rural remote parts of PNG without much government support. They do not travel in limousines on paved road or fly in jet planes to reach their clients. They walk through rough terrains on foot climbing mountains, crossing fast flowing rivers in rainy or sunny weather. They need government support to continuously support the rural population. Most of the Church Health Services have been
closed for some months now due to lack of government funding support. Who is going to attend to the sick and dying in the remote rural areas of PNG?
Successive governments have been barking a lot about wanting Medical Officers to serve in rural areas. It is only hot air where is the support?

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Domestic violence a pandemic in PNG: UN

July 14, 2020 The National

DOMESTIC violence is a different kind of pandemic in PNG which requires immediate action to stop, an official says. “Like coronavirus, it requires immediate action to stop – justice to hold perpetrators to account, health services to treat wounds, housing for women and children, opportunities for women to earn and control their own income so they can build a better life,” UN Women’s country representative Susan Ferguson said. UN resident coordinator Gianluca Rampolla said violence against women and children was a scourge. “Civil society, including churches and unfunded women’s organisations, continue
to carry much of the burden for this emergency,” Rampolla said.
“The UN redoubles its commitment to support the Papua New Guinea Government as it bears the primary responsibility for recovery from this plague.
“Prevention and response to domestic violence will improve the lives of many women and children suffering abuse; and prevention and response will improve the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic itself.”
The UN thanked development partners for their support to eliminate violence against women and children in PNG. The Real State of Emergency. Jennifer Baing-Waiko
The real State of Emergency is the Demon in your community, patriarchal abuse of power and resources: … Let’s all be honest about this we are surrounded by violence against women on a daily basis. At least once a week someone connected to me or near to me faces domestic violence. Just two weeks ago a women had her cheeks stabbed open by a husband who had to be taken to jail with our car. We jailed one of my close relatives for trying to strangle my cousin sister in my own house while I was breastfeeding my child last year and had just arrived home from Port Moresby. Our country is sick!! The sooner we confess it we
can start the process of healing it. Children growing up on the street at market places, neglected by their parents busy playing cards until late at night. Children physically and sexually abused due to neglect and acceptance of perpetrators in our communities!!! ENOUGH is ENOUGH!!! We have to pay police fuel money to come and protect us, families getting cartons of lamflaps as compensation for sexual crimes against women and children!!! Sick nation, sick people we have all become!! The foundation was never built properly we are crumbling to pieces let’s stop pretending that things are improving, they are not!!! We are only trying to cover the bleeding wounds and open sores of this nation. We want real and meaningful change, not money and handouts, bel kol mani!!!! Check yourself, reflect on your own attitudes. Our minds are in the gutters. We need to start with the next generation and build up from there. This is a cursed generation. Look to your
children and the youth of this nation for change. #womenslivesmatter

Official: 3mil living under poverty line

July 8, 2020 The National

AN estimated three million people in Papua New Guinea are living below the poverty line, a senior Government department official says.
Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) director of food security branch coordinator Brown Konabe said the data was based on a lack of income because one way to have food security was to have money.

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Konabe pointed out that the country had a high rate of malnutrition because of protein deficiency.
“Children under five years old have a very high level of protein deficiency due to not getting enough protein in their daily diet,” he said.

He said the number of those living under the poverty line stood at 48 per cent and was one of the highest in the world

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Covid-19 & the urban poor 11 July 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/07/covid-19-the-urban-poor.html#more

PORT MORESBY – On the eve of Papua New Guinea’s state of emergency shut down, little did informal vendors know how this sudden decision would snap their daily livelihoods. While the state of emergency was a crucial measure to prevent the spread of the virus, the restrictions imposed had a devastating impact on the majority of urban people.
“Suddenly everything comes to a close, like as if our lives were put to stop by a greater agenda,” said one vendor. The government was caught unawares and severely underestimated the impact of the lockdown on the urban poor.

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The belated attempts to provide food were uncoordinated and failed to compensate for the loss of earnings.
Morata is one of Port Moresby’s largest squatter settlements, one of many shanty towns and settlements throughout the country. It is densely populated; home to thousands of people whose main income is generated through informal economic activities. The impact of the state of emergency restrictions on the people of Morata was immediate and severe; with the poorest families faring the worst. Within two weeks, incomes had dropped by as much as 90% for the poorest families. On a typical evening, with an average of over 15 mouths to feed in a household, middle to high income earners were able to survive the first few weeks. Sadly, low income earners immediately went without food.

The primary problems revealed by our survey were:

Access to food and other supplies.

Public transport suspension.

Public gatherings prohibited.

Markets price increase.

Restricted access to health and education.

Hunger and starvation. 95% of households confirmed they skipped meals in the first week of the state of emergency and experienced hunger and starvation in the second week. Five percent of respondents went to churches to get food through the government supported feeding program.

The pandemic has amplified and further widened the gap between rich and the poor.

Gender violence: Much at stake in Jennelyn case 11 July 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/07/gender-violence-much-at-stake-in-jennelyn- case.html#more

PORT MORESBY – Never has a court case concerning domestic violence captivated the
nation like the one involving Bosip Kaiwi, charged for the wilful murder of his partner, Jennelyn Kennedy. Already there are public concerns about how police are handling the situation; concern justified based on many accounts of police officers failing to carry out their duties diligently and without favour or bias. The honest and dedicated police officers seem to be outnumbered by bad coppers who are tainting the image of the force. And all this exacerbated by other high profile cases swept under the rug. The result is obvious – public trust and confidence in the police force has been eroded to an extent where its members are treated with disdain and doubt. One gets the feeling that we are reaching a breaking point in our nation’s history as people lose trust in the justice system. It seems just a matter of time before we witness a nation engulfed in jungle justice where people will take the law into their own hands. In a country already marred by revenge killing, the last thing we want is for the justice system to fail totally.
Kennedy’s’s death and Bosip Kaiwi’s court case be a watershed moment in our nation’s ability to address gender based violence? The majority of Papua New Guineans would like to think so.

WHO: Too many die in childbirth

July 14, 2020The National

THE country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Western Pacific with two women and 20 newborns dying per 1,000 live births, says World Health Organisation

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(WHO).
It is based on its 2016-2018 Demographic and Health Survey.
“This number is unacceptably high,” says WHO country representative, Dr Luo Dapeng. “Although progress has been made in PNG’s maternal health statistics, too many women continue to die during childbirth.” Dr Luo said with the essential resources, skilled workforce and political leadership, many of these deaths could be prevented. “Families must also make it their priority to ensure that pregnant women continue their ante-natal and post- natal checks, even in the midst of the Covid-19,” he said. “This is very important to allow health-care workers to check for any early warning signs and treat any concerns.
“Currently, only 40 per cent of women deliver their babies at a health facility supervised by
a skilled health worker.” HEALTH CRISIS AN EYE OPENER ON THE CARE FOR THE POOR Fr. Giorgio Licini. Post Courier – 14 July 2020, p. 11
The current crisis in the health sector in Papua New Guinea is an eye opener. The nurses and doctors of the Christian Health Services and Catholic Church Health Services have scaled down or completely interrupted work by the 3rd of July due to no release of operational grants and no payment of salaries by the government since January 2020.
The financial difficulties of the government in these times of pandemic and apparent change in economic policies and foreign investments can be understood. The question, however, arises when it comes to the setting of priorities. The health services of the different Christian denominations in PNG cover about 50% of the total national health sector. The fact that they are located mostly in the rural areas, where there is nearly no government infrastructure, tells how vital these services are for millions of disadvantaged citizens in the country.
Yes. Salaries may have been delayed by relying on the fact that Church management serves
as a deterrent against quicker abandonment of duties. And the Churches may in effect be able, as in similar instances in the past, to mobilize emergency resources for a few fortnight contributions. But the Churches are not raising taxes. Without government paid salaries, their health services would be all gone in much less than one year. The government must be careful not to undermine its claimed Christian inspiration with practices that jeopardize it, such as spots of blurred financial accountability, neglect of remote areas, financial rewards for hosting scores of asylum seekers and refugees who never aimed at our shores. The issue here are the rural health services. Should they fall again at a very low level of priority, then the commitment of the government to the most disadvantaged people in the country could be seriously questioned. In a post COVID-19 poorer world, there will be no margins for personal and corporate greed; or human arrogance will once again push millions to the fringes, and in conditions of
starvation, sickness, and death. Papua New Guinea is a rare example of a country refraining from investing in armaments and weapons of war. Still the task of ensuring sufficient financial resources for the required basic services, for the State machinery, and the infrastructural improvements for a growing population is daunting. Can’t waste a single toea. International solidarity helps, but not at the price of sacrificing human rights and moral standards. At the end of the day every person and every country are largely
responsible for their destiny. What is essential is the integrity and commitment of the leadership, which is immediately seen in the treatment reserved to the marginalized and the poor.

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PNG drops in human development

July 15, 2020 The National

PNG continues to plummet in the world human development rating 40 years on, according to Wewak MP and chairman of the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) Kevin Isifu. “This is a grave concern,” he said, adding that he would take this opportunity as new According to Isifu, PNG was ranked 78th in the United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI) in 1995. He said in the same year, provincial government reforms took place in the
country. “This impacted very much on service delivery at the sub-national second-tier level of government,” he said. Isifu said in 2010, the HDI rating of PNG plunged further to 147th placing and further plummeted to 158th in 2019 – a drop by 80 places in 25 years.
“After 45 years, we must reflect to see where we’ve gone wrong,” he said. “It is something that all of us need to question.
“ “Every year, our gold, copper, oil, gas, logs, and fish are being exported. Every year, our budget is increasing.
“We have so many resources yet our people are so poor. “It is time to go back and review these things.”

GBV out of control, says doctor

July 22, 2020 The National

GENDER-based violence (GBV) in the country has gone out of control and is an emerging public health crisis and serious human rights issue, a doctor says.
Deputy chairman of National Health Board of PNG Dr Mathias Sapuri said the few high profile cases in the media of brutal murders and violent attacks on women and girls was just
a tip of the iceberg of a problem that had reached national epidemic proportions.
He said the government needed to take decisive action to protect women and girls.
Sapuri said a commission of inquiry should be established to look into the root causes of gender-based violence and develop effective policies to fight this social ill that was affecting society. “As a senior specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist in women’s health, I see victims of gender-based violence frequently and am alarmed by the widespread escalation of GBV in all parts of the country in the recent years,” Sapuri said.
“The national government needs to take a drastic action to control and eliminate violence in all its forms. “We need evidence-based solutions for GBV in the country.
“Without knowing the root causes of GBV in the country we cannot afford to adopt reactive measures to address a serious public health issue. “We have existing laws to protect the victims but sadly these are not effectively enforced. “The country needs a new approach to
dealing with gender-based violence and the findings of a Royal Commission can help us achieve that. “Women are victims in sorcery-related allegations, women and girls are victims of polygamous marriages, they are victims of breakdown in marriages due to mistrust and infidelity, women and girls are victims in younger age marriages, they are victims over stress on finances on families” he said.

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Concern raised over doctor, patient ratio

July 20, 2020 The National

AMONG bad health indicators facing PNG, the current one doctor to 17,620 patient ratio (1:17,620) is more than 40 times worse than the World Health Organisation (WHO)
approved ratio of 1:400, chief consultant to the University of Goroka’s school of medicine and teaching hospital project Dr John Tonar says.
He said the medical school and teaching hospital project was attached to the current

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programmes the university was delivering; it would greatly assist PNG to reduce the ratio and its ailing health indicators.
Tonar outlined the rationale for the project and the doctor-patient ratio stood out.
He was accompanied by chancellor of UOG Joseph Sukwianomb. “Some developed countries in the world meet the WHO ratio, in PNG we need 23,000 doctors to meet that requirement with a current population soaring towards 8.9 million people,” he said. “The 120,000 health workers currently in our health system, just cannot satisfy the demand,” Tonar said. He said the only medical school in the country produced 30 to 50 doctors annually, a the cost of around K20 million under an Australian-devised curriculum, there were some
compromise in the quality of doctors graduating every year.
“The scenario does not help the indicator, PNG is rated 154th out of 187 countries in the world in the human capital development index, the situation is not only for medical professionals and manpower in the health sector but other sectors as well.
“We even do not have 1,000 doctors in PNG, we have below 950 doctors in the country, according to the National Doctors Association statistics,” Tonar said.
He said with a 2.5 per cent population growth rate annually, with the sector leaning on deteriorating colonial health facilities with minimal manpower it could not absorb the demand. Tonar said the question was how the country could improve its ailing health indicators.

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/07/icac-will-not-be-politically-independent.html

ICAC will not be politically independent 22 July 2020 EDDIE TANAGO
PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption will not be free from possible political interference under the terms of the draft bill to be debated in the next session of parliament. The prime minister will chair and the leader of the opposition will be a member of the committee that appoints both ICAC commissioners and the members of the oversight committee that will constantly review the operations, functions and powers of the ICAC. The prime minister will also have an absolute power to block investigations into corrupt conduct where he determines the matters under investigation should be kept secret on the grounds of national security, international relations or the public interest. Both these provisions are completely unacceptable and fundamentally undermine the basic principle of an ICAC that it must be independent and free from any possibility or even perception of political interference. The power to block investigations on the grounds of national security, international relations or public interest
is one that should be given to the chief justice who should make a determination on the basis of arguments from both the government and the ICAC.
It should not be an absolute power given to the prime minister. Catholic Bishops raise concerns at Press Conference Port Moresby: Following a week-long Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Catholic Bishops
have raised concerns and issues relating to their ministry as shepherds and pastors.

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A press conference was held on Thursday, 2nd July, at which pressing issues were presented by the newly elected president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Anton Bal, Archdiocese of Madang supported by sixteen other Bishops.
“The primary mission of the Church is to help people to encounter the loving and saving person of the Lord Jesus. The Church is also concerned with the totality of the human person and their life in the world and therefore we have considered these issues,” stated Archbishop Anton Bal. According to the statement by the Bishops, the first point highlighted the joint decision of Catholic Church Health Services and Christian Health Services to stop work at health centres.
“The bishops came to the very difficult conclusion of endorsing the joint decision of the Catholic Church Health Services and Christian Health Services because the government has failed to pay health care personnel under these agencies for several months.”
They are urging the government as a matter of justice to reimburse the full amount owed to the nurses, so that they may continue their crucial work of caring for the sick and suffering. There was also a mention made by Bp Francis Meli about the operational grants due since 2017 for the medical schools run by the churches. Bishop Anthon Bal said the Bishops are grateful for the measures being taken to safeguard the people of PNG from the threat of COVID-19. At the same time, the bishops urge the government to adhere to legitimate constitutional principles when instituting further measures. “We urge the government to adhere to legitimate constitutional principles when instituting further measures and that transparent accounting must also be made of all funds secured for the purpose of the COVID-19 mitigation and response.” Another point stressed upon was the issue of violence. Abp Anton Bal stated that the church
promotes the respect for human life at all stages and rejects all kinds of violence including domestic violence, sorcery accusation violence and tribal fighting. “The bishops join the wider society of PNG in their condemnation and horror at recent examples of brutality and violence toward women. These practices, which are all too common and often committed with impunity must cease,” he said. He also pointed out that the bishops are concerned that unscrupulous people are taking advantage of many people in our communities with illegal financial schemes and others who are lending money at exorbitant rates of interest. The Bishops are now calling on the appropriate government offices to investigate these matters and to prosecute those found guilty of these immoral practices which harm the poor above all.
The concern of asylum seekers and refugees was also raised at the Bishops AGM where they met with H.E. Jon Philp, High Commissioner of Australia to PNG and raised important issues regarding their welfare.

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Social Concerns Notes – June 2020

Transparency and Coronavirus

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/transparency-weighs-in-against-corruptavirus.html 31 May 2020

| Transparency International PNG Link here to the full article which includes useful tables

PORT MORESBY – As most countries have begun scaling down safety measures against Covid-19, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has heightened its efforts in calling on the government of Papua New Guinea to implement measures to safeguard state of emergency funding against misuse and misappropriation. This call to action by TIPNG comes after concerns raised by PNG treasury minister Ian Ling Stuckey in early April regarding allegations that a bulk of the initial K23 million released by the PNG government for the Covid-19 state of emergency had been spent on hire cars and media consultants.

Although PNG prime minister James Marape and police minister Bryan Kramer have since refuted these allegations, the government has yet to provide verifiable evidence in support of their statements.

The greatest concern for Papua New Guineans is PNG’s track record of grossly mishandling government sanctioned special projects for which project funding and management are exempted from strict transparency and accountability protocols. Such protocols are normally provided under the PNG Public Finances Management Act, and include competitive bidding and the Integrated Finance Management System or IFMS.

The most recent example of exemption from these requirements was the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, hosted by PNG, during which, millions of kina are believed to have been spent by the previous government, often on questionable expenses. The debacle notoriously came to a head when hundreds of police, military and prison guards stormed and vandalised the PNG parliament over unpaid allowances. Despite calls from TIPNG and other PNG citizens, no financial reports have been made available to the public since, with many service providers still waiting to be paid.

If corruption is not prevented, Covid-19 could have a devastating effect on PNG, with the potential loss of life exacerbated by mismanagement and the misapplication of resources.

Our systems worked, so what happened?

04 June 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/our-systems-worked-so-what-happened.html 

| My Land, My Country

The quality of transport infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – determines the price of food. Apart from consumption, this single factor influences the rate of supply and demand to a large extent. Economists can argue about the theory.  But if you ask any kaukau and broccoli  seller in Lae or Madang where produce from the highlands ends up, they will tell you why their prices are high in many instances.

If a road section is damaged (which happens a lot), the bags of food have to be shouldered to the other side of the road where another vehicle has to be found. The carriers have to be paid and the vegetable dealer pays twice for transport. Where does he pass on the cost? To the consumer in Madang or Lae.

Papua New Guinea’s food security challenge has to be confronted on multiple fronts.At the top of the list of priorities should be local production and food security followed by the country’s food distribution network – roads and bridges. Food production and research hubs – if that’s what you want to call them – have to be reestablished.  I say reestablished because we had them in the 1970s and 1980s. They were called DPI (Department of Primary Industry) stations. Those stations were located in strategic locations around the country. They were nuclei for research, agricultural support and seed distribution.  Government workers lived and worked at those stations. Some still do, but without the support they used to get. Those stations were connected by well-maintained road networks managed by the Works Department, which had a similar system of works camps along highways and feeder roads. The DPI stations supported farmers by providing advice, managing disease outbreaks and attending to the impacts of natural disasters. All this was done by the government of Papua New Guinea.

We seem to be suffering from generational amnesia. It is baffling that we keep trying to reinvent the wheel when we already had systems that worked for our people. Why can’t we bring them back? ….

The bottom line is, we had systems in place. Systems that worked. We listened to wrong advice in the 1990s and look where it got us.

Lung cancer killing many, says doctor

June 2, 2020 The National

 LUNG cancer affects a significant population and is a top-killing cancer in Papua New Guinea, a doctor says. United Nations in-country physician Dr Mathias Sapuri said this during the commemoration of World No Tobacco Day by the PNG Cancer Foundation (PNGCF) on Sunday.
“It is important to know that smoking leads to the development of lung cancer,” he said.
“Children and adolescents should not pick up the habit of smoking.
“Exposure to smoking by family relations are common, where a parent or relatives currently smoke, it’s most likely that children adopt the habit.”
Sapuri stressed that passive smoking (the breathing of other people’s smoke by non-smokers) was a concern as it could affect people. He said it was important to break the cycle.

4,000-plus church health workers waiting to be paid

June 11, 2020The National

MORE than 4,000 health workers employed under the Church Health Services (CHS) are still waiting to be paid after more than four months, officials say. The CHS and the Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) are calling on the Health Department to immediately release their outstanding pay and operational grants.
Catholic Bishop Francis Meli said the salary and operational grants from February to June as appropriated in the 2020 Budget were yet to be released. He urged the Government to pay outstanding operational grants for all church-run health worker training schools from 2017 to 2020.
They are giving the Government 15 working days to release the funds. “An indefinite stop-work will commence at 8am on July 3 unless outstanding salary and operational grants from February to August are paid in full and cleared by the Banks,” he said.
Bishop Meli said the churches had their own ethics and values and to stop work or strike was always the last resort. “But health workers and training schools have run out of patience,” he said.
“We know that it does not sit well with many but we have come to a stage where we have to make a decision for fairness and justice for our health workers nationwide.”

Agency hospitals may stop

June 26, 2020The National

 MORE than 700 health facilities run by churches may stop work next week if the Government does not release all their outstanding funds, officials say. The Christian Health Services (CHS) and Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) were forced to serve a stop-work notice through the Health Department on June 10 giving the state 15 working days to release the outstanding grants from February because staff had been deprived of their salaries for four months.
Chairman of the executive and general assembly of CHS, Japalis Kaiok, told The National yesterday that the Government responded by releasing a month’s operational and salary grant of K6 million as appropriated in the 2020 Budget and it was distributed last Friday.
Kaiok said that was basically the February grant that covered two fortnights.
“Although the one-month grant was released, we still need the four months grants (March-June),” he said. “The church-run training schools operational grants since 2017 are still outstanding as well.
“To confirm with you if the government has come very clear and positive on their commitment for the four months, that’s something that we still need to hear from the Government,” Kaiok said.
The churches are an important partner in healthcare service delivery in PNG with 4,764 health workers, 745 health facilities and 19 health worker training schools.
“We are very mindful of the impact and the consequences it (stop work) will have on the population but we can’t compromise on our statement. “We will stand by the conditions of the petition until July 3.”

Momis bows out with a sense of fulfillment| Radio New Zealand

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/momis-bows-out-with-sense-of-fulfilment.html#more

AUCKLAND – In his last speech in the Bougainville parliament last Thursday, president John Momis spoke passionately about a political career that began nearly 50 years ago. He spoke of how it began in the early seventies when he was anointed by chiefs in Kieta in a cultural ritual and sent on a mission to help the people determine their own future.

Dr Momis said the success to date of the peace process is down to the unity, creativity and productivity of the people. “We are very lucky, although we face a lot of challenges, but we have also been very creative, productive and despite the  differences we have worked together to achieve so much,” he said.

The president also spoke of the coming consultations on the result of the Bougainville referendum, where the new Autonomous Bougainville Government will have to consult with the Papua New Guinea national government. He called PNG prime minister James Marape a responsible leader, who recognises the Bougainville issue is a national issue. Dr Momis encouraged both governments to continue to work together. The two term president said he will “bow out with a sense of fulfilment and a sense of gratitude that the Almighty has seen fit to ask me and you, mere humans, to share in his creative power to create something new.”

Plant More Trees campaign underway

17 June 2020https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/plant-more-trees-campaign-underway.html#more 

PORT MORESBY – A campaign to plant more trees in Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea has been initiated by Travel4Green (T4G) PNG, a not-for-profit project in partnership with Catholic Bishops Conference.The campaign has adopted the ‘Keep It Clean. Go Green’ under Pope Francis’s Laudato Si statement and the PNG Conservation and Environment Protection Authority’s recently launched ‘10-million trees in 10 years’ target.

The joint campaign is aimed at involving students in tree planting activities and monitoring PNG’s standing forests to make the environment and communities healthier and more livable.

Annual Progress Report 2019 for the United Nations in Papua New Guinea

Development Trends

The Papua New Guinea economy grew by 4 per cent in 2019 driven by commodity exports, agriculture and logging. Government expenditure prioritized free primary healthcare, infrastructure projects, and the Provincial and District Services Improvement Program.

Despite socioeconomic challenges including high rates of unemployment, especially among young people, lack of educational opportunities, underrepresentation of women in governance and decision-making, violence against women and girls, malnutrition and limited access to improved water sources, life expectancy continues to increase in PNG. Digital economic innovative intervention, and information and communication technologies (ICTs), also gained momentum in several government sectors. Furthermore, the Bougainville Referendum Commission conducted a peaceful, violence-free referendum.

Development Context

PNG, a lower-middle-income country ranked 155 out of 187 countries in the 2019 Human Development Index, is the only Pacific country in the low human development band of the Index. Population statistics indicate that 52 per cent of the population is below 24 years and 85 per cent of the population lives in rural areas.1 The country faces a number of challenges in translating economic growth into inclusive, sustainable human development, including chronic youth un- and underemployment, which remained unchanged at 2.40 per cent in 2019,2 as well as low absorption of school leavers into the formal employment sector.

Opportunities for formal tertiary education are minimal, and opportunities for paid untrained workers even more limited. Unemployment is felt, not only among the youth, but throughout the abled population. It is a substantial contributing factor to the challenge of law and order, to the continued, and indeed increasing, levels of crime and violence, and high costs of security protection. Uncertain economic conditions and rising fiscal pressure affect the country and contribute to the breakdown in the rule of law in both highland and coastal provinces. In all, there is an imperative for peace and greater social cohesion throughout the country.

The complex challenges and exciting opportunities PNG witnessed in 2019 included the change in National Government, a referendum on the political future of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, two budgets, a cabinet reshuffle, and new infrastructure such as the Coral Sea Cable communications system. A vote of no confidence in the O’Neil government in early May ultimately led to a change in Prime Minister in late May. On 7 June, the new Prime Minister, James Marape, swore in a full cabinet. Significant reshuffling followed in mid-November. Years of deflated economic and social progress, including political will, have put a considerable constraint on the progress of the new Government’s focus and other development work.

The new Government expressed its commitment to improving the quality of life for Papua New Guinean citizens by addressing health, education, and law and order. The Government proposed to grow the economy through investing in the skills, business and employment opportunities that would unlock the country’s potential, promote economic development outside of Port Moresby, and clamp down on corruption.
The Government set out to increase the country’s internal revenue by 50 per cent, from a PGK10 billion a year on-average internal revenue.

The wisdom from my culture

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/the-wisdom-from-my-culture.html#more 11 June 2020 SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE – Three years ago, I asked my dad what the role of women was in his culture and how women were treated. This was when another incident of violence came to the fore. I needed to understand how his culture dealt with women and their place in society.  My dad is a man of huge contrasts; he is an immaculately patient being with a frighteningly explosive temper. He is not someone you would easily walk over. If you did, it was because he tolerated the situation or he walked away from a fight. His restraint was and still is legendary. He was not a saint. He did extend his share of violence to poor unsuspecting souls who chose to pick on him.

Even in his worst, he never laid a hand on my mum. The wisdom in his reply has stuck with me since. His was a warrior culture, where the men pretty much ruled the daily affairs of the tribe. The decisions on where to settle, which alliances to forge, which clans to attack and destroy were made by men. However, the secret counsel and the influence came from the women. Our ancient culture understood the purpose of the man’s ego.  The women guarded it. They did not interfere or publicly embarrass their men in front of their peers.  But in decisions that were going to be disastrous, the women chided and counselled their men.

The man’s wealth came from the women who cared for the gardens and the pigs in partnership with her man. A careless woman spelled the downfall of her husband. Society understood that wars could be started because of the words of women and disastrous battles that could affect generations in the future could also be avoided through a woman’s counsel. Women were not mere property.My dad said despite the fierce reputations of the grandfathers, women were rarely beaten or abused. Shouting or fighting with your woman in front of your elders was shunned. It spoke of a man with boyish tendencies, unable to control his emotions and unable to function as a thinking, intelligent warrior in battle.

He said it was expensive to fix domestic disputes that came to the attention of older people in the tribe.  You had to pay compensation in pigs and whatever they demanded. Basically, if you are man enough to strike your woman, you must have the wealth and the emotional stamina able to fix multiple relationships affected by your actions. Diplomacy in the home and outside of it was a skill every man had to learn.

Years ago, when my mum was a feisty, hotheaded, young woman, I used to hear her say during my dad’s most frightening moments, “Noken wari, em ba no nap paitim mi.” I understood much later why, he always calmed down.  First and foremost, he loved his woman too much to strike her. Second, as per the wisdom of the ancestors, it would be too emotionally expensive to fix several relationships that came with the woman he loved. The disrespect shown to his in-laws – the young men and women who came to look up to him would be very difficult to repair.  The trust would be broken and it would take years to fix.  To restore his honour, he would work to repair all those relationships.

The parallels to the 21st century relationships remain the same.  Abuse has high penalties –emotional, financial and legal. That is the wisdom from my culture. You have to understand your own cultural context from your elders

PNG TokStret (internet)

CONCERNS ON THE PASSING OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY BILL 2020

**************************************************************************

MEDIA RELEASE

We make this Statement as protest. Firstly for the manner the Public Health Emergency Bill 2020 was rushed into Parliament by the Government and passed on Friday 12 June 2020. There was no prior wider consultation, openness, and debate in Parliament. The law was rushed in total secrecy without justification. Secondly, the law has serious constitutional issues, lacking transparency and accountability for political expediency, which required greater consultation with all stakeholders prior to presentation in Parliament.

We are told that the Bill that was introduced in Parliament was different to the initial draft that was circulated to Members of Parliament prior to the Parliament sitting on Friday 12 June 2020. The following are our fundamental concerns.

First and fundamentally, the Bill takes away the powers and functions of the Legislative Arm to the Executive Arm. In doing so it not only compromises the supervisory and oversight powers of Parliament on the Executive, but it surrenders or delegates its powers without reservation. A State of Emergency under Part X of the Constitution is a power vested on the Parliament during an emergency. This is so especially when the rights and freedoms of people under the Constitution are to be suspended and subjected to severe restrictions and deprivations. Only Parliament through the elected Representatives of the people can, when the occasion necessitates, make those decisions. By the Bill the Parliament’s supervisory and control powers under S. 239 appears to be abrogated and divested in the Executive Arm of the Government. The Parliamentary Emergency Committee provided for under Sections 240-242 are also been abrogated and divested of its functions to the Executive Arm.

Second, the Bill creates and confers more powers to the Controller seemingly without much oversight from the Executive (NEC) or the Minister responsible. While the appointment of a Controller is with the NEC there is no set criteria and qualification for the position of the Controller, except that he or she should be a public office holder (s. 7). It does not even provide from which public office the Controller will be selected from – the police, defence, CS, Health or such other public office. It is left to the prerogative of the NEC. The functions and powers of the Controller are quite unlimited during the period of the emergency (ss. 8, 9). This is dangerous given the experiences the common people experience with the law enforcement authorities in normal times. More so, when the Emergency Act already abrogates and restricts the Constitutional rights to privacy, movement, personal liberty, free speech, etc., of the people. It imposes a double jeopardy for the people.

Third, “emergency” is not adequately defined under the Bill. Any definition must be consistent with the meaning set out under Sections 226-243 of the Constitution. The definition under the Bill does not reference the relevant Constitutional provisions. This is dangerous especially when powers are left to the Executive Government of the day.

Fourth, financial accountability of public funds is seemingly without transparency and accountability. The normal safeguards to accountability under the Public Finances (Management) Act 1995, and the National Procurement Act 2018 are also suspended. It leaves room for misuse of public funds for the emergency without scrutiny and accountability. The Act effectively removes the oversight powers of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament to the Controller.

While it is understood that the suspension of the PFMA Act and the National Procurement Act is intended to avoid the cumbersome procurement procedures in emergency situation, the oversight functions and powers of the Auditor General (SS. 213-214, Constitution) and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (SS. 215-216, Constitution) cannot be removed. The Act abrogates their powers and functions and vests on the Controller, who is not duly qualified, and who only reports to the Minister responsible and to the NEC. Emergency if at all is a good reason for use of Certificate of Inexpediency as opposed to the public tender process under the FFMA. However, a Bill that extricates itself of the whole PFMA is a sign of bad motive.

The law does not even allow for the application of the Audit Act and the powers of the Auditor General to audit the books of the Controller after the emergency period. When audit is brought under the Audit Act it will subject the Controller to the oversight function of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. Parliament under the Bill will be totally divested of its powers to the Executive Government, which raises serious constitutional questions.

Fifth, the following constitutional rights and freedom of the people will be suspended and deprived – liberty of the person (S. 42), freedom from arbitrary search and entry (S. 44), freedom of expression (S. 46), freedom from assembly and association (S. 47), right to privacy (S. 49), right to freedom of information (S. 51), right to freedom of movement (S. 52), and protection from unjust deprivation of property (S. 53) for the cause of public interest in public safety, public order, and public affair. This is a major fear. The Constitutional implications in the deprivation of these civil rights of the people under Section 233 of the Constitution will need the interpretation of the Supreme Court.

Sixth, the Bill does not include provisions for “Extra-Territorial Application” of the Emergency law to PNG Citizens and subjects including PNG Flagged Vessels overseas; nor does it include its application to Foreign Flagged Vessels in PNG territory. The Bill does not include under the definition of “Vessel” reference to the Merchant Shipping Act and or the National Maritime Authority Act to allow the emergency law to apply to all vessels including PNG Flagged Vessels overseas and Foreign Flagged vessels in PNG territory. The role of the NMSA in this situation is not specified.

Seventh, the penalty provisions are too onerous considering the freedoms and rights being deprived on the one hand and the K50, 000.00 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years (individual) and K500, 000.00 (corporate) fines for breaches of the emergency law on the other under S. 44. While the penalties are designed to deter and enforce the emergency laws and directions it is too onerous and untenable.

Eighth, the transitional and savings provisions under sections 53 and 54 of the Bill has retrospective effect to all past actions, decisions, procurements, monies received and used under the past emergency laws and regulations. Any transparency and accountability of the funds, assets, contracts and works etc., under the repealed Emergency (General Provisions) (COVID 19) Act 2020 will be at the discretion of the Controller, Minister responsible and the NEC. There is no further oversight from the Auditor General or the National Parliament under the Bill.

The Bill has the appearance of creating Marshall law and Police State. It is a dragonian law to democratic rights and freedoms of people. This type of law cannot be allowed in a Constitutional democracy where the freedom and rights of the people are given special protection under the Constitution. It is a law that takes away the oversight powers of the Auditor General and the Parliament through its Public Accounts Committee. It will serve a bad precedent for future Governments.

The Bill extricates itself from the application of the Constitutional law, which is tantamount to altering the Constitution. This is a serious Constitutional point. To alter Constitution it requires wider consultation and over a number of sittings of Parliament over time intervals. It was not the case with this Bill.

In light of the above concerns, we had recommended for the presentation of the Bill to Parliament be delayed and allow for wider consultation with Constitutional offices, relevant State departments, think-tank groups and organisations, churches, and the civil society. We also thought it was necessary to seek a Supreme Court advisory opinion on the Constitutional implications of the Bill. There is no real or perceived threat or danger to public good and welfare to rush and push this Bill into law, especially when we do not have local data, evidence, or deaths in PNG yet for such urgency. Reliance on outside advice and situations alone is no justification for the urgency.

We are a faith-based professional organisation and we are also concerned with the extreme restrictions under emergency laws affecting our churches and religious faith and worship activities. Whatever we do God must not be left out of the planning and measures taken in any emergencies. Our churches and people have been praying and will continue to pray for the protection and end to this Covis-19 Pandemic.

FINALLY, GIVEN THE PASSING OF THE BILL WE CALL ON THE OMBUSDMAN COMMISSION TO INITIATE A CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENCE IN THE SUPREME COURT TO DETERMINE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THIS EMERGENCY LAW.

Paul Harricknen, OL President CATHOLIC PROFESSIONALS SOCIETY PNG

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2020

PNG Heading for Recession

08 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/png-heading-for-recession-say-forecasts.html

| Business Advantage PNG | Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY – Economists are forecasting a recession in Papua New Guinea in 2020 as the country struggles to deal with the global crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has also downgraded the country’s debt.

A report by ANZ Bank predicts that the PNG economy will be in recession in 2020, contracting by 2.6%. It says government expenditure will increase to ‘an all-time high’ of K19.3 billion, while revenue will fall by K2.5 billion. “The PNG government will have a shortfall of K1 billion in petroleum taxes and dividends, which, in turn, is due to a collapse in oil prices,” the report said. “We believe another K1.5 billion of projected overall tax revenue won’t be realised due to a lacklustre economy.

“The shutdown of the Porgera gold mine while the operator, Barrick Niugini, pursues a legal challenge to the government’s decision not to extend its special mining lease, along with disruptions at the Kainantu gold mine due to landowner disputes, will impact revenue.

Porgera Gold Mine

Business Advantage PNG (Paul Barker)

PORT MORESBY – There will be repercussions from the Papua New Guinea government’s decision not to renew the special mining lease on the Porgera gold mine. The Porgera valley is a very complex place, with communities long vying for control. Anyone treading in it should do so lightly, with thorough consultation and knowledge of that situation and avoiding disruption.

Barrick and its predecessor, Placer Pacific, had their difficulties over the years, with criticisms on social and environmental grounds, most of which the company denied.

However, the company effectively became the authority and the provider of jobs and all government services in the valley, which had a small population when it started over 30 years back and is a burgeoning community now….

Whatever the merits of the PNG government takeover or transfer plans for the Porgera mine, they will require very considerable preparation, capital, staffing and logistics to put into effect, all of which will take time and effort, and resources, which are not in great supply right now….

The government’s aspiration for taking control of PNG resources and the economy is understandable, in terms of the major overseas (and some local) resource grabbing over forests, land, marine resources, and even small businesses and jobs over recent years, and in the face of the major disappointment over the surprisingly low revenue from the extractive sector by the mid-2010s, when the government envisaged major revenue flows and planned major public expenditure….

It seems critical that a lot more dialogue is needed and an amicable outcome that does not jeopardise the limited harmony in the Porgera Valley, does not disrupt operations, employment of revenue unduly in 2020 and which does not further undermine shaky investor confidence in PNG.

Transparency to examine bias in PNG press

04 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/transparency-to-examine-bias-in-png-press.html#more

The question that has been asked by the public is; to what extent is there a bias in the media on governance issues, and more importantly, will it matter in the next major national event, e.g., the current Covid-19 emergency or the 2022 general elections?

To address this question, TIPNG looked at media trends on how the daily newspapers in PNG report on governance.

In PNG, most people rely more on print media than social media for their daily dose of current affairs and information. For this reason, understanding local print media story choices and general trends is important.

While PNG has enjoyed a relatively free media this has been under threat in recent years.

For instance, the 2020 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) world press freedom index assessed PNG to have a press whose independence is ‘endangered’, with a corresponding drop of eight places in rank since last year. Interestingly one of the reasons cited by RSF for the diminished ranking is that “Journalists nonetheless continue to be dependent on the concerns of those who own their media.”

The threats to PNG’s media freedom are most obvious when it comes to major national events that require objective reporting in the public interest.

Recent instances where the ability of the media to report have been hampered by other interests (often political) include the 2017 national election, the 2018 APEC leaders’ summit, the 2019 political transition and the 2020 Covid-19 public spending issue. Journalists in PNG are further disadvantaged by the lack of Right to Information (RTI) legislation to enable them to obtain public documents from the State. In the absence of a RTI law in PNG the media outlets are further beholden to political interests as sources of information – which further erodes public trust in news outlets.

Multi-drug resistant TB (MDRTB)

Facebook 15 May. Jimmy Drekore 

20th March PNG Reported First Covid-19 Imported Case

22nd March I stated MDRTB was more lethal than COVID-19

11th May Six Mile Clinic alone recorded 291 confirmed TB cases (last 4 months).

IF we are not vigilant it will lead to MDRTB and that PNG you can embrace yourself.

Marape Government Fails to tackle Corruption

20 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/marape-government-fails-to-tackle-corruption.html

James Marape was elected as prime minister on the back of a growing wave of discontent about political corruption and the misuse of public funds – and the initial signs from the new government were promising.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee emerged from the shadows to hold televised hearings into the procurement of medicines and medical supplies in Health Department secretary Kase was quietly removed.

A high-powered commission of inquiry was appointed to investigate the disastrous UBS loan scandal. Vocal corruption critic Bryan Kramer was appointed police minister and ex-Task Force Sweep boss Sam Koim took command at the Internal Revenue Commission.

Meanwhile, the legislation to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption was dusted off and brought back to parliament.

But the initial wave of optimism that the Marape government would decisively tackle the chronic corruption that is undermining service delivery and impoverishing the nation has been dashed in the face of overwhelming evidence that in Papua New Guinea it is business as usual.

Government minister William Duma, who managed to walk away from the Manumanu land scandal without facing charges despite the weight of the evidence, seems just as immune from any sanction over the Horizon Oil scandal.

The Australian chief executive of the oil company has been terminated after the board described his position as ‘untenable’ but Duma has not even been made to step aside while Australian and local police investigate.

Meanwhile 38 of the 40 Maseratis which sell for around $140,000 each in Australia are still sitting idle in a warehouse in Port Moresby. Yet the Minister responsible for the purchase, Justin Tkatchenko, who falsely claimed firstly that the cars were being imported at no cost to PNG and then were ‘selling like hot cakes’ has not answered for misleading statements or the waste of upwards of K20 million.

To make matters worse, while some APEC vehicles are sitting idle, the government is again spending millions of kina on hire cars to help with the COVID-19 response.

Nowhere is the lack of accountability more apparent than at the very heart of the prime minister’s own department……

While some people may point to the current COVID-19 crisis and state of emergency as having stalled progress on the ICAC and the UBS commission of inquiry, the truth is things were moving at a glacially slow speed even before the pandemic. In the last 10 months, despite a smattering of arrests and charges, there has not been one prosecution of a high profile leader for corruption or misappropriation and not one minister has been forced to resign or even temporarily step aside.

Group calls for lowering of flag

May 22, 2020The National

THE Catholic Professionals Society of PNG has called for the LGBTQ (lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer) flag to be lowered, saying that it was a threat to the country’s moral standing as a Christian nation. The society’s president Paul Harricknen said PNG was founded on the preamble of a Christian foundation and local tradition. “We have nothing against the LGBTQ community, our forum here today (yesterday) is about foreign governments pursuing their interest in our country,” he said. “It’s about the flag been raised, such an action makes a statement and we are against that statement because marriage is a union between a man and a woman.” “We call on our leaders of Government, civil service, churches and people to be vigilant against any blind reception of advices and terms and conditions from foreign aid givers and funding donors which are aimed at eroding and destroying our founding values, beliefs, faith and morality.
“We have a duty to safeguard these values, beliefs and principles for the present and future generations. We hope the Government can take heed of this issue. If PNG is to pursue the dream of becoming the richest black Christian nation, then issues of moral values and principles, beliefs and faith must be vigilantly safeguarded.”
Harricknen said they were not trying to incite any hate or violence against the community but only wanted the flag to be lowered.

Be vigilant: Doc

May 27, 2020The National

THE daily increase of the coronavirus cases in West Papua is a great threat to Papua New Guinea, says the State of Emergency (SOE) deputy controller and acting Health secretary Dr Paison Dakulala. The Papua region of Indonesia has seen an increase of 65 new cases, bringing a total of 686 confirmed cases.
Dr Dakulala said this week that the alarming increase meant that PNG was still in the danger zone and people should not be complacent.
In the Western Pacific region, countries worth noting are: Indonesia – 22,271 (1,372 deaths); West Papua – 130 (2 deaths); Papua – 556 (8 deaths); Singapore – 31,616 (23 deaths); Australia – 7,114 (102 deaths); Fiji – 18 (no deaths) and New Zealand – 1,504 (21 deaths)
For PNG citizens and residents stranded abroad, the Government is working to bring them back and this includes the 127 in Fiji.

PM presents over K1.8mil to bushfire victims

May 25, 2020The National

PRIME Minister James Marape presented a cheque for more than K1.8 million to the Australian government on Thursday to help those affected by bushfires earlier this year. The funds were raised through the PNG Hearts for Australia Fire Appeal 2020 by the PNG Government, business houses and individuals. In conveying PNG’s sympathies for those affected by the bushfires, Marape said it was not the amount that mattered but the goodness and kind gesture of our hearts. “We owe it to each other as neighbours, friends and wantoks,” Marape said told Australian High Commission Jonathan Philp. He said PNG’s relations with Australia was not by choice but by “our geographical location and dates back many centuries”.

The State of Emergency Cannot Fix Years of Negligence  — Michael Kabuni

Department of Pacific Affairs, In Brief 2020/15

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has registered eight positive COVID-19 cases across five different provinces since March 2020, though all have recovered. A two-week nationwide state of emergency (SOE) and lockdown to curtail the movement of people were initially declared on 23 March when the first case was reported. The SOE was extended for another two months when it expired, whilst the lockdown was lifted. The lockdown restricted travel between provinces and mandated a complete shutdown of non-essential services, whilst the SOE prevents international travel and travel to selected provinces. Despite these efforts against the spread of COVID-19, seven of the domestic cases were from local transmission. The cases of local transmission in Western Province — despite the restrictions on travel and the military deployed to monitor the borders — point to an ineffective monitoring of provincial borders, which was intended to restrict internal travel as well as travel between PNG and Indonesia, and highlight how a long-neglected health system could be put to the ultimate test during the pandemic.

This In Brief argues that PNG’s reliance on the SOE and lockdowns to contain COVID-19 is proving difficult due to years of government negligence that have led to both poor health infrastructure and limited police and military capabilities, including the ability to adequately police unauthorised movements across PNG’s borders.

DWU students, staff receive masks sewn by volunteers

May 28, 2020The National

STUDENTS and staff of Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang are beneficiaries of washable face masks sewn by a group of volunteers led by Sr Monika Steinberger. This was one of the measures DWU took to safeguard the university community from the coronavirus pandemic.
The project was supported by non-government organisation Bread for the World.
Sr Monika, who works as a counsellor at DWU, said the project began early last month and 3,400 masks were completed and distributed to students free while staff paid K3 for one. She said: “By May 11, all students received one mask each and we aim that by June 1 all students will be provided with a second one. “Thus, in case the virus reaches Madang at any time, students are prepared to wear the protective masks.
“A total of 400 masks have been sold to DWU staff and employees of Diwai Enterprise Ltd, the business of the university. “We hope to complete our project by June 5.” The masks are being made from household materials.
Precautionary measures are taken to ensure the materials are good enough to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 in lecture rooms, students’ mess and other public places on campus. “Bread for the World is covering the cost for the students’ masks.” The volunteers sewing the masks include DWU staff, female students, sisters from the Catholic Church and Catholics from the communities.

Who’s financing deforestation in Papua New Guinea? A new report follows the money.

By Rachel Ramirez on May 18, 2020

Papua New Guinea has one of the largest expanses of tropical rainforest on the planet. But in recent years the island nation just north of Australia has seen a surge in deforestation from logging and mining, which has threatened to release large stores of carbon into the atmosphere.

Deforestation has left behind patches of bare land across the country, and indigenous communities bear the brunt of the environmental consequences. Many are wary of companies that clear the land without providing something to the local community in return. So in 2017, when the Malaysian timber company Maxland secured a permit to clear rainforest on the country’s Manus Island, it promised to plant three to five million rubber trees and said it would benefit nearby communities through jobs, royalty payments, and improved infrastructure.

Critics say that Maxland is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. According to a new report released this month by the human rights and environmental watchdog Global Witness, Maxland has not planted a single rubber tree, despite being two years into its five-year contract. Instead, the report claims that the company has prioritized illegal logging and exporting the island’s valuable hardwood timber, raking in millions of dollars in the process…..

Can coronavirus bring positive change?

28 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/can-the-middle-class-reform-the-economy.html#more   Philip Fitzpatrick

History tells us that more often than not the educated middle class are the change agents in society. This is why the Australian administration in Papua New Guinea was keen to establish an educated middle class prior to independence.

The theory goes that while the lower classes are busy concentrating on survival and the upper classes on protecting and increasing their wealth only the educated middle class has the inclination, wherewithal and time to think about social issues.

What is recognisable as the middle class actually contains two sub-sets, the educated and the aspirational. The former is largely made up of the caring professions, doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists and the like, while the latter is made up of business people. Aspirational thinkers among the middle class usually spend their days trying to climb up social ladders and tend not to be too concerned about social conditions except where they affect them directly.

It is unfortunate when the educated sub-set of the middle class becomes too comfortable and complacent because that makes change difficult. This has become blazingly obvious in places like Papua New Guinea. In Papua New Guinea the distinction between the educated and the economically aspirational disappeared very quickly. The result is a single hybrid middle class whose main interest is looking after its own interests….

An old French saying is “plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes” (the more things change the more they stay the same).

Right now, various governments across the world are grimly determined that things will indeed stay the same.

They are bending their will and resources to exactly this end: a return to normality.

Normality means a neo-liberal world in which the interests of the powerful and the wealthy take precedence over those of the poor, the weak and the helpless.

The relentless exploitation of the environment and people must be allowed to proceed at all costs, so as to fulfill the endlessly repeated mantra of “jobs n’ growth”.

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2020

Vigilant Nurse

Health system unprepared for virus

10 April 2020

Human Rights Watch

SYDNEY – Even before the coronavirus, the fragile health system in Papua New Guinea was underfunded and overwhelmed, with high rates of malaria, tuberculosis, and diabetes among its population of more than eight million.

Access to hospitals is extremely limited, with 80% of the population living outside urban centres. Prime Minister James Marape has acknowledged the country has only 500 doctors, less than 4,000 nurses, and around 5,000 beds in hospitals and health centres. The country reportedly has only 14 ventilators. A Covid-19 outbreak would be catastrophic.

To date, there have been two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in PNG. It could be that PNG will be spared the scale of the pandemic seen elsewhere such as Wuhan, a dense urban area with a mobile and older population. But Police Minister Bryan Kramer has acknowledged the country has a limited capacity to test people, raising concerns that the actual number of cases is higher.

Despite Marape’s assurances that personal protective equipment would be made available to health workers, the Ministry of Health released a situation report on 13 March detailing chronic deficiencies, as well as inadequate training on use of such equipment

Broken health system braces for Covid-19

12 April 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/04/broken-health-system-braces-for-covid-19.html#more

 KOKOPO – The first that staff at Nonga General Hospital in Papua New Guinea heard that they had been treating someone with coronavirus, was when they saw the country’s prime minister announce it in televised press conference on Monday. They had been treating the patient, a volunteer health worker at the hospital, for pneumonia. She originally came into the hospital in late March, but recovered and was discharged, before her symptoms worsened and she was readmitted.

“This person wasn’t put into isolation or even a different ward. She has been walking around freely in the past few days and talking with us, so we are scared. We all left the hospital and are waiting for someone to come and explain what is happening,” said Margaret Melke, a nurse in Rabaul district, where Nonga Hospital is located.

The woman, who is now recovering at her home, is the second confirmed case of Covid-19 in Papua New Guinea. The first was an Australian mining worker, who had flown into the country. But this time the infected person is a local, who had not recently travelled abroad. The case was detected in a village near Rabaul, a harbourside town on the island of East New Britain.

The prospect of the arrival of coronavirus in a country with just 500 doctors and around 5,000 hospital beds and which struggles to deal with even routine illnesses has terrified the public. Health workers are asking how the nation’s fractured health system, which routinely leaves clinics without soap or disinfectant and where nurses report using nappies as gauze to mop up blood and rice packets in lieu of gloves, would deal with an outbreak. The country is already dealing with outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, drug-resistant tuberculosis and polio.

“When one [Covid-19 case] is confirmed, it is a disaster for us. It is already an outbreak,” said Melke, who has spent more than 40 years working in Papua New Guinea’s beleaguered health system and is the Nursing Union leader for New Guinea Islands. “We are the frontline, but we do not have safety equipment to protect us, so how can we save others? We put our own families at risk.”…

Charles Abel‎ to Alotau District

Facebook 18 April

I’ve spent the last two days going from door to door in the settlements and in town. It’s is really just a continuation of our efforts over the last 2 months to do awareness , send people home and now deliver some rice . I’ve also spent much of my time as a leader in our villages in this electorate as shown on this page. The reality is that most of our people live in settlements and villages . In these conditions it is practically impossible for them to practice social distancing or wash their hands with soap or sanitiser on a regular basis.

Their main concern on a day to day basis is what they will eat for dinner on that particular day. A settlement dweller will rely on one of the wage earners living in the settlements or the informal cash economy in most cases. This informal economy is where the wage earners in general will buy betelnut, market food, cooked food, and resale items like cigarettes, noodles etc. There is also prostitution, sadly. The village people sell their crops to buy essential items like soap, medicine, garden tools, kerosene.

I often put myself mentally into the position of these people. Imagine if you did not get your fortnightly pay for one, two or three months. I just worry so much about the children especially. It has been four weeks of SOE now and soon five weeks. It looks like it will go much longer. We have other medical requirements that continue regardless of covid-19 such as tb, cancer, child birth etc. Access to health services become restricted by SOE.

We need to think about the wider consequences as people are put off jobs, markets close, no sports – an idle population with no income, no food and lack of access to other basic services. We are not like modern countries that can lock up in their houses or units and have savings and food stores. We are talking about the majority of our people here.

David Jah Blum‎ to Sharp Talk

#Reality
I saw a mother hiding in the flower garden with a packet of Cambridge cigarettes. The profit from the sale will guarantee her a 1kg packet of rice. The last thing on her mind is the dreaded COVID-19, she is more afraid of the police than some incurable disease. Personal hygiene is only for those that can afford to waste the precious water she keeps for only cooking and drinking.

An elderly man with a waist bag slung over his shoulders pretending to look at on coming vehicles discreetly pitches to anyone passing. “2 kina full buai stap” In his waist bag a handful of betelnuts with mustard to go with. Precious cargo that ensures he gets by a day with a simple meal. When you can’t afford firewood you depend on kai bars and shops for daily sustenance. He will gladly shake hands and share the lime (kambang) to any potential customer. He is more afraid of the rogue reservist policemen that occasionally beat him stealing whatever he earns because they know how he makes a living and on a good occasion will have enough cash on him to buy a 6 pack of beer. A few meters off his female partner and their malnourished half-naked children wait patiently for hopefully their first meal of the day.

Whilst politicians and bureaucrats sit in air conditioned rooms talking about the welfare and wellbeing of communities. The SoE lock down is either totally ignorant or just too plain selfishly arrogant to realise the most basic traits of human behavior. Not Papua Niuginians… What kicks a human being into survival mode. Humans beings are controlled by our instincts. We always have been, and we always will be.

Whether we realize it or not, our basic instincts govern our every decision. We like to believe that our big brains and free will grant us the freedom to be free thinkers, but in reality, the power of our primal urges is more powerful than many of us care to admit. The most developed civilised countries in the world acted like uncivilised fools over toilet paper. You won’t have to worry about PNGeans fighting over toilet paper. But when you make a mother act like a thief to feed her family, when families have no option but to become become scavengers.

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”
— Aristotle, Greek philosopher

Fees! Fees! Fees!  (Bank of South Pacific)
1. Branch Withdrawal Fee K3.00
2. Acc Maintainence Fee K3.00
3. Branch Deposit Fee K3.00
4. Checking Balance Fee K0.50
5. Transfer Fee K2.00
6. Mini Statement Fee K0.75
7. Deposit Fee K3.00
8. Withdrawal (ATM) Fee K0.50
9. Withdrawal (Counter) Fee K4.00
10. Cheque Deposit Fee K7.00
11. SMS Banking K1.50
12. Account maintainence Fee K10.00

By looking at all this rates and surcharges imposed on customers I am thinking where’s the security of the ordinary citizens of our country. Something has to be done and it has Has To Be Now!

#ActNowBPNG
#BSPRethinkUrRates
Goodness already.

18 April 2020

MONICA MINNEGAL & PETER DWYER
| DevPolicy Blog

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/04/god-covid-19-remote-health.html#more

CANBERRA – The first Covid-19 case reached Papua New Guinea on 13 March 2020, though it was several days before it was unambiguously confirmed. On 17 March the pandemic was declared a national security issue, and a state of emergency came into effect on 24 March.

….Jacko lived in and accessed the outside world in ways that were impossible for most of his kin. His learning, and his messages, influenced their understandings. Kiunga became quiet. Airlines throughout PNG were grounded. Port Moresby residents were now stranded in Kiunga, and Jacko filled his hours exploring the web and posting to Facebook.

Late in the morning on 24 March he posted a simple message: ‘PNG people will not be impacted by Corona virus disease’.

We were concerned that this might be the sort of message he would convey to the village people we knew. Though we seldom do this, we intervened. We wrote:

“Jacko. That is wrong. That is dangerous advice. If you love your friends and family, take this post down. You are spreading false information. People must follow the advice of the PNG health department to help prevent the spread of this dangerous virus that is killing people all over the world.”

Jacko replied: “Yes, we can advise our PNG People to take extra precautions measure to follow WHO advise from spreading the virus. Bottom line is PNG Christian country which God had placed in the center of the equator where it is consistent with a temperature of up to 26-27 degree Celsius.”

Jacko tells us that God placed the Christian country of PNG at the equator where moderately high temperatures would protect the people from the ravages of the virus. He agrees, however, that it would be sensible to take extra precautions with respect to hygiene……   (See the url for the full story….)

The prayer from next door

17 April 2020

Daniel Kumbon. https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/04/the-prayer-from-next-door.html#more

PORT MORESBY – With Papua New Guinea under a state of emergency, I haven’t been able to return to my home in Wabag and, here in the national capital, I continue to hear the lady next door pray to God every morning.

Today’s prayer, translated from the Enga and Pidgin languages, went something like this.__________

Thank you God Almighty for giving us Papua New Guinea.

It has oil, gas, gold and coffee and other rich resources but why we remain poor, only you know.

May this time of pestilence be a time when PNG can acknowledge you as our God and Saviour.

May it be a time when everybody repents and turns away from our bad ways. Forgive us our sins. Take us back. Guide our government.

Thank you for keeping us safe thus far. Destroy the yoke and set us free.

Protect our leaders and give them wisdom in our time of need.

Let them bow down before you.

This tiny germ has forced them to their knees. From there, let them see you as the only one who can give them strength to face this tiny germ.

Other countries have many doctors, nurses and money but PNG lacks everything. But God you have kept us safe.

You are a merciful God, the God of Abraham, Jacob and Esther. You are the God who sent manna from heaven, the God who gave your people water in the desert.

You are the God who fed multitudes with only five loaves of bread. You are the God who healed the sick. Let PNG see you, the God of Miracles…..

And on she prayed….and like for the last three weeks, my ears were turned in the direction of her humble home.

And the birds continued to sing providing the background choir every morning, perhaps praising God as they’ve done for millennia.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – March 2020

Disparity in a global pandemic.

Patients per Doctor
Italy – 240:1
S. Korea – 300:1
Spain – 300:1
USA – 390:1
Australia – 400:1
New Zealand – 420:1
China – 950:1
Papua New Guinea – 20,000:1

Penalty rejected: Steven

March 2, 2020The National

ACTING Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Davis Steven says it is difficult to push for the implementation of death penalty in the country.
Steven told The National that the report on death penalty was submitted to National Executive Council (NEC) seven times but it had continued to be rejected.
“I took the report to NEC but after seven attempts or so it got rejected finally because people don’t want death penalty,” he said.
“I thank the NEC and Prime Minister because we could have rejected it and forgotten about it and the gap would have remained.
“The last thing we want is to be blamed for somebody’s death. People accuse us of passing too many laws and not enforcing them. This one law if we allow it will to go ahead, it will work as a deterrent,” he said.

Police violence is alienating youth

15 March 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/police-violence-is-alienating-youth.html#more

KIMBE – The common practice of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary picking up youths going about their legitimate business in the street, throwing them in the back of a police 10-seater and belting them to try and get information (torture), that they may or may not have, has to stop.

Police Minister Bryan Kramer, your officers cannot expect our youth to respect the rights of others, and not steal from them or harm them, if they themselves are victims of illegal violence from police officers.

Please have police trained to perform their duties within the law. Their violence just leads to more violence and crime as the cycle spirals out of control.

Three young members of Youth For Change were ‘abducted’ by police off the street in Kimbe one afternoon recently. They were on their way home from a week-long training workshop for youth on Family Violence and Community Healing. They were “interrogated” in the back of the vehicle and then released.

They had spent the whole week with more than 70 others finding solutions to youth crime and violence, including alcohol and drug misuse. They had contributed their ideas to strategise genuine change. Then this.

PNG: Where Your Kinas Buys More

http://www.pngblogs.com/2020/03/png-where-your-kinas-buys-more.html

It is amusing to watch our politicians continue to become researchers researching into international financial schemes like WB, IMF, Exim Bank, ADB, EU, Ausaid, UBS, EU for soft loans development funds, financial aid to survive. Virtually for almost 45 years these financial institutions have been the proud sponsor for Papua New Guinea existence.

The reason why Papua New Guinea, lag behind in terms of development is because our politicians have come to love ‘handouts’ more than formulating self sufficient policy platforms of their own. It is the same mental laziness and myopia that makes Papua New Guineans to blindly follow false prophets and pyramid schemes in spiritual marketplace, and in politics we worship the most corrupt thieves of public funds.

The presence of handouts mentality legalizes and normalizes the plundering of countries’ natural resources. Our Mineral Laws become the source of economic exploitation. Moreover, foreign assistance legalized plunder and accelerates the exponential exploitation of our resources. Henceforth, the roots of our underdevelopment are neither poverty nor corruption but Politicians handouts mentality drains Papua New Guinea of its resources at the expense of ordinary citizens. Even worse, it deprives ordinary folks of their God-given right to self-determination….

Law, order & Planning for resilient island communities

26 March 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/planning-for-resilient-island-communities.html#more

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is implementing a K93 million Climate Investment Fund grant to secure greater climate resilience in small islands and atolls. The project started in 2016 and will end in 2021 in Bougainville, Manus, Morobe, East New Britain and Milne Bay. Some 24 islands and atolls were selected from these provinces to mainstream climate resilience in development plans focusing on vulnerable communities.

There will be three main components, firstly, climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning for the targeted communities.

A climate change vulnerability assessments uses scientific information to describe the degree to which resources, ecosystem and other sectors are affected adversely or beneficially by climate variability in the selected islands and atolls. The assessment also includes an assessment of the sectors’ ability to adapt.

The project will establish a small grant facility to finance community-based projects including the installation of 200 water supplies and 100 sanitation facilities. There will also be training of locals from the targeted islands.

The second component covers sustainable fishery ecosystems and food security. A sustainable fishery is one harvested at a rate where the fish population does not decline over time. Sustainability can be threatened by changes in climate patterns.

Experts warn of PNG health catastrophe

30 March 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/experts-warn-of-png-health-catastrophe.html#more

PNG has so far confirmed just one coronavirus infection (an expatriate later evacuated to Australia and later found to be negative) but public health specialists and development workers caution that PNG’s high rates of poverty, poor nutrition, threadbare health services and pre-existing health problems such as tuberculosis mean the country of eight million is highly vulnerable to the disease.

Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program director Jonathan Pryke said there were only about a dozen ventilators in Port Moresby and only a couple in other parts of the country.

Mr Pryke said the country’s health system was already stretched to the limit dealing with serious endemic health problems including malaria, tuberculosis and diabetes.

Ann Clarke, project manager for the non-government organisation Businesses for Health: TB and HIV, said an outbreak of Covid-19 in PNG, particularly in Port Moresby and other large centres, would be “an absolute catastrophe”. Dr Clarke said respiratory problems and diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and asthma were prevalent, accounting for a third of the country’s total health burden. The most recent available data show that in 2018 there were 37,000 active cases of tuberculosis alone, resulting in 4700 deaths.

Water Aid PNG country director Rachel Payne said in settlements in major urban centres like Port Moresby and Lae it was not uncommon for up to 15 people to live in a house, and access to water was very limited. Ms Payne said 60% of people lack access to safe water and just 2 per cent have somewhere in or near their home where they can wash their hands.

African Swine Fever Hits Mendi.

Post-Courier – Monday, March 30, 2020

While the coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on the world, the African Swine Fever (ASF) has arrived in Southern Highlands Province and has already killed as many as 1500 pigs in Mendi, Upper Mendi and Nipa districts.

Deputy provincial administrator Febik Simon said, “We urge the people of Mendi and nearby provinces to immediately report any sick pigs in your area. Likewise, do not move your pigs or carry pig meat out of your respective districts and provinces. “This will prevent the further spread of the virus,” he said.

 “Pigs are not just a source of protein but are also a commodity and we have to address this issue immediately. I request support from the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, NAQIA and other development partners and stakeholders to help SHP fight the disease so we can contain a breakout in the country.” Community leaders from the Waparaka ward Osborne Kiluwa said the disease is threatening pigs in the Highlands.

https://kalangfm.com/news/african-swine-fever-in-png-449

Let’s learn important coronavirus lessons

25 March 2020

SCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/lets-learn-our-important-coronavirus-lessons.html#more

LAE – So it’s a global pandemic with well over 16,000 dead already, 380,000 infected and less than 103,000 recovered.

It was a national health worry. But within days, it became a national emergency.

The prime minister taking advice from the National Security Council, a state of emergency declared and police commissioner David Manning appointed emergency controller.

For the first time in Papua New Guinea’s history, all the politicians and all the top bureaucrats are in the country. None of them want to be overseas.

Even the crooks who stole from Papua New Guinea’s health system and made millions from bribes want to be here in a country which is largely COVID-19 free (at least for now).

The irony of it all just gives you warm fuzzy feelings. What a beautiful example of poetic justice.

Australia, Singapore, China and the rest of the world are the least attractive places for anyone right now.

Every public official who thumbed their noses at PNG’s health system and went overseas for medical treatment now expects our underpaid doctors and nurses to build facilities that will be COVID-19 ready in weeks.

Big ask.

Oops! Why didn’t we invest in the health system and build it up for our people? Maybe, just maybe, one day we would need to use it. That day has come. A bit early, I must say.

Here is another piece of irony for you. The safest places in PNG right now are the villages where up to 70% of health facilities are closed because of lack of funding and lack of medicines.

Hundreds of villagers have been in ‘self-isolation’ for decades. They don’t have to maintain ‘social distancing.’

A lead team member in Morobe’s COVID-19 response team, said on Saturday, “the safest place right now is in the villages; they can easily self-isolate.” I didn’t say that, he did.

While there are reports of urban dwellers panic buying, food security in the villages remains constant.

The Western Highlanders will be complaining about having too much kaukau, potato, broccoli and cabbages because interprovincial travel has been drastically reduced and the Lae Market is closed.

I’d rather complain about having too much healthy food than about too many deaths from COVID-19.

The Papua New Guinea Defence force has been called on to provide security with the police. They have a funding shortage, planes that are grounded, facilities that have been screaming for government attention for decades.

They’ve been put on alert to be battle ready against COVID-19. Big ask. But I don’t doubt their abilities.

But let’s buy them the equipment, uniforms, vehicles and training. With our money. Let’s make them a force to be reckoned with. Give them the planes and the choppers so they can support us with pride.

Let’s not wait for a global crisis to do that.

We face an economic crisis brought on by COVID-19. If there was any time in history to invest in agriculture (and I don’t mean oil palm), this is the time. This is the time to plant for the next 6-12 months to increase food security.

But at the same time, we should be building systems for the future when the rest of the world collapses around us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – February 2020

So PNG, What is a Fair Deal

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/so-png-what-is-a-fair-deal.html

PORT MORESBY – The politics of bigman, the economy of wastage and a public service that has become ‘private service for a tip’ all combined to deliver prime minister James Marape’s ground breaking announcement last Sunday rejecting the P’nyang gas deal.Mr Marape’s speech rejecting the P’nyang gas deal had been written over the years. It was a speech really aimed at an audience close to home. And if we didn’t get it, we have a problem. The irony is that I’m not even sure the PM himself gets it. Our criticism of Exxon Mobil and other development partners in the resources sector is as much a criticism of ourselves. If we think we are fighting them for a ‘fair deal’, we are barking up the wrong tree. So what is a fair deal? From where I stand, a fair deal to me as a taxpayer is when my tax is spent in the right manner without caressing some bigman politicians’ egos, without the money disappearing into ‘private service’ pockets and without wasting it on nonsensical economic projects with no clear return to the community. That is a fair deal to me. And only the PNG government and its machinery are capable of delivering a fair deal to taxpayers and citizens. …

PNG manufacturers face tough year

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/png-manufacturers-face-tough-year.html#more

PORT MORESBY – It is shaping up to be a difficult and frustrating year. Manufacturers, like anyone else, require people to be spending money to buy our goods and there is just not much money going around. If you go to the supermarkets there is nobody in line and everyone has a small basket because they can’t afford to fill up a trolley. In the rental market there is a 40 to 50 per cent vacancy rate. One of most pressing things at the moment is the liquidity of the government. Their cash-flow problem is terrible and that has flow-on effects. When the landlords of government have not been paid for up to five years their business, and all of its employees, will be under significant duress. When the government is nine to 12 months behind in paying their utilities provider that means the utilities provider can’t even look at reducing the cost of its services. So this government cash-flow problem is having a huge inflationary impact on the rest of the market. … We need to address why it is so expensive to do business in PNG. It is not expensive because people are chalking up large profits. It is expensive because security is a nightmare, law and order is terrible, and our ports and road infrastructure is falling apart. In PNG, you are paying 10 to 20 times more for your monthly operating costs, so how can you be competitive?

Will PNG get serious about corruption?

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/will-png-get-serious-about-corruption.html#more

PORT MORESBY – With the resignation of former prime minister Peter O’Neill last May after a seven-year tenure, many citizens hailed the resulting appointment of the Marape-Steven government as an opportunity to start afresh. A staggering K26 billion mountain of debt and an inefficient and incredibly costly public service has forced the new government to implement a number of unpopular, yet arguably more fiscally responsible, initiatives. This includes a 50% reduction in O’Neill-era popular subsidies for primary education, with potential savings directed towards university education. While there has been much debate about new measures to address national debt, little has been done about the waste created by corruption at virtually every level of society in Papua New Guinea. …

With a score of 28 out of 100 on the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), PNG finds itself among a majority of countries that show little to no improvement in tackling corruption.

As with many countries that score below the global CPI average of 43, PNG experiences a link between the perceived prevalence of corruption in a country and a lack of political integrity….

A Nursing Officer Shares

http://www.looppng.com/png-news/struggle-real-shares-nursing-officer-90078#.XkRitim8TCQ.mailto

 

Churches need funds to help victims of violence

February 19, 2020The National

THE Government is expecting churches to respond more to issues of violence against women and girls, sorcery-related accusations and killings and input into issues, the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands says.
Its president Bishop Rochus Tatamai said the churches were doing the best they could to help victims move to safe environments, but they were also facing difficulties in funding and accommodating the large number of victims they received daily.
He said 70 per cent of the population and victims in Port Moresby were from outside provinces and the Government had not funded anything yet to date.
“Centres that run out of funds and food were going out and doing small fundraisings just to continue to look after victims in their safe houses,” Tatamai said.
Tatamai said the Safe House Association launched in June would be another way they would work together and support each other.
“We don’t want to be labelled as a violent nation. Every time we are in other countries, people always ask about continuing killings and fights, labelling us a violent country,” Tatamai said. He said more could be done if the Government and other partners came together and supported each other.

Death Penalty under Review

Post Courier 25 Feb

New safe house eyed to assist victims

February 19, 2020The National

THE Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands will be launching a Catholic Safe House Association in June to build a network among agencies to provide further services to victims of violence. Madang Safe House representative Sr Thecla Gamog addressed the Catholic Bishops, agencies and media, saying the association linked four safe houses run by Catholic Mission in the country. These safe houses were located in Wewak, Kokopo, Bougainville and Madang.
The church will be looking into building one in Port Moresby, Lae and move onto the Highlands region because of increasing number of violence against women and girls.
Gamog said the association was a network of small agencies that had been providing temporary shelter for battered women and their children and victims of family and sexual violence. The church is calling on international and non-governmental organisations and Catholic houses with potential for true justice for women who often struggled to access paralegal service.

Cooking to Feed the Needy

Post Courier 24th February

Roads need fixing now: Bishop

February 19, 2020The National

ROADS in Brahman and Bundi in Madang need to be fixed quickly to allow students attending a high school to go to classes, a church leader says. The Catholic Archbishop of Madang, Rev Anton Bal urged authorities to fix the problem. “We have two mines (MCC Ramu Nickel and Marengo Yandera) here, and we have politicians from this area, so it is surprising to see the road in such a bad condition,” he said. “The provincial government and the district must put money into fixing the roads and bridges.” Bal said it was scary to see the Baia Bridge on the verge of collapsing. “If we have heavy rain up in the mountains, this bridge will be swept away. People living on the Bundi and Brahman side will be cut off. The schools will shut down and the people will suffer.” There are more than 700 students attending the St Michael’s High School in Brahman. It will be forced to close if supplies do not reach the school by today.
Missionary Max David said the road condition was so bad, vehicles transporting students could not reach the school. “One more flood and we may lose our bridge, and our primary school, secondary school, health center and all the needs of the community in Brahman and Bundi will be cut off and shut down. It is important to us that the roads and bridges be maintained,” he said.

Sir J talks against illegal logging

February 19, 2020The National

NEW Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan has declared war on illegal logging and wants such loggers to be prosecuted for treason.
“They destroy our land, rivers, bridges and roads by using trucks that weigh two or three times more than the limit,” he said.
“They even hire policemen, so the very people who are supposed to protect our people are attacking them.
Sir Julius alleged that even provincial police commanders were doing nothing about it, denying that was happening.
“That is treason, they should be called to account for it. I hope the prime minister protests the rights for the weak and those less fortunate,” Sir Julius told Parliament last Friday.
He said although all the logging operations were approved by the PNG National Forest Authority, “most are illegal”.


Safe houses lacking funds to help victims

February 20, 2020The National

SAFE houses are facing many challenges, from repatriating clients (victims) back to their families to shortage of staff, funding, counsellors and experts or specialists in most provinces. Madang Safe House representative Sr Thecla Gamog said they could only provide accommodation. But they had to find money to look after the victims, including children, through fundraising and donations. Money was needed for food and to repatriate the victims back to their families and community.
She said at times, police would leave victims with them without a proper care plan of when they would process the investigation and follow up on the perpetrators and court.
“We look after them, find ways to take them hospital and other necessities,” she said.
“Victims who stay longer – we need more support for them and provide food.
“Sometimes when the perpetrator is not arrested, we pay for fuel so that police can go and make arrests.”

PNG passes historic whistleblower law

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/png-passes-historic-whistleblower-law.html#more

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s parliament passed historic whistleblower protection legislation on Tuesday following a commitment made by prime minister James Marape last month. The passing of the Whistle Blower Act coincided with the tabling of enabling legislation for the creation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Commenting following the vote, Mr Marape thanked both sides of parliament for supporting the bill.

 “Parliamentarians are doing our job by passing relevant laws, it is now up to those of you with evidence of corruption to rise above fear, wantok system, nepotism, bribery, hearsay, politics etc and report corruption and assist prosecuting corruption.”

Mr Marape said he looked forward to the operationalisation of ICAC.

“We will appoint credible non Papua New Guineans and known corruption fighters in PNG into ICAC to make it work,” he said.

Elisabeth Determined to give back to PNG

Post Courier 25 February

Debate on prostitution

February 24, 2020 The National

 JUSTICE Minister and Attorney-General Davis Steven says the position of the law on prostitution in PNG is not clear. Steven, currently acting as prime minister while James Marape is overseas, plans to seek the advice of the State Solicitor on the matter.
“As the Attorney-General, I’m very much dependent on the State Solicitor to give me specific legal support on matters like that,” he said.
He, however said that assuming there was a law against prostitution, those who breached it should expect the penalty.
Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands Bishop Rochus Tatamai told The National that life was a gift from God and no one should use it as an object to satisfy one’s pleasure and receive money for it.
He blames the current “economic crisis” as one of the reasons behind the increase in prostitution.
He said women selling their bodies for money was against the rules of the church.
“The church’s role is to promote the family and marriage.
“Once a man is married to a woman, they become one and live as a family.
“Using a person’s body as an object for pleasure shows no self-respect.
“It is against the church and us as a Christian nation.”

Comparing poverty in Oz and PNG

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/comparing-poverty-in-oz-and-png.html

 MORRISET – A recent report by ACOSS [the Australian Council of Social Service] and the University of NSW highlighted the rates of poverty in Australia, particularly for children.

Two years ago the Asia Development Bank and the Borgen Institute produced a similar report for Papua New Guinea. I in no way wish to diminish the work of ACOSS but I think it is important to put things into perspective by making a comparison to our nearest neighbour in PNG.

The poverty line in Australia is set at 50% of the median household disposable income. That’s around $433 a week for a single adult and $909 a week for a couple with two children. School attendance rates in Australia average 92% (82% for indigenous children) and public schools are free. More than 13% of Australia’s population – that is about 3.2 million people – live below the poverty line, according to the report. About 774,000 children under 15 (17.7% of Australian children) live in poverty. The infant mortality rate is 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Meanwhile in Papua New Guinea….

An estimated 40% of Papua New Guineans live below the poverty line, which was established by the Asian Development Bank at $9 a week. PNG has fewer than 400 doctors, with an estimated 51 of these working outside Port Moresby. Similarly, there is a shortage of nurses, with recent figures suggesting only one nurse per 2,270 people. An estimated 25% of children are unable to attend school, with current figures suggesting 600,000 children do not receive an education. School attendance rates average below 75% and schools are fee paying. Only seven percent of Papua New Guineans have access to both electricity grid and properly treated water. The infant mortality rate for Papua New Guinea is 41.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.

That’s quite a comparison.

Safe house for women, children closed for maintenance

February 26, 2020The National

A SAFE house in Port Moresby where woman and children fleeing “domestic violence” seek refuge in has been temporarily closed for maintenance. The management of Haus Ruth said the building badly needed repairs as water had been leaking from the top floor wetting the kitchen area and floors, gas stoves were not working and walls broken.
It had to be closed “for the health and safety of children and mothers”.
Haus Ruth opened its doors in 2003 under City Mission.
It offers to help women and children but now men too are also coming in for counselling

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2020

Centuries-long Hela war gets deadlier

08 January 2020
https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/a-violent-centuries-long-war-gets-deadlier.html

Tribal fighting in the last 30 years has become more akin to conventional warfare on the battlefields of the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa than the pitched battles using the bows and arrows that characterised pre-colonial confrontations in the Highlands. In the last 30 years, modern weapons, along with other accoutrements of modern technology, have made their way into Papua New Guinea. They have disrupted the traditional rules of tribal fighting that had historically limited the effects and consequences of the fighting and restrained fighters from going too far.

While in the past a decision to go to war with an opposing clan or tribe would have been taken collectively, now young and disillusioned men with access to modern weapons can unleash devastation on their enemies and their own communities almost single-handedly.

The presence of these modern weapons and their destructive firepower has also meant that the number of casualties is much higher, making it harder for opposing sides to reconcile (and the traditional exchange of compensation prohibitive) and leading to completely unprecedented tribal fighting dynamics.

Instead of pre-arranged battles between warriors in designated areas as in the past, villages are now attacked under cover of darkness as part of a scorched earth policy to kill and destroy with abandon. And while previously fighting was restricted to the geography of the tribes involved, targeted killings can now occur against random members of either side almost anywhere.

Schools and clinics are frequently attacked and destroyed, and most recently in Hela pregnant women and children were killed and some burnt alive. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been present in PNG since 2007 and opened its offices in Mount Hagen and Bougainville in 2012. Since then, we have progressively grown our presence. Today, most ICRC staff and resources are focused on protecting and assisting people affected by the tribal fighting in the provinces of Enga, Hela and the Southern Highlands….

More Doom and Gloom – Ken Fairweather

http://www.pngblogs.com/2020/01/more-doom-and-gloom-for-png-in-new-year.html

The Reserve Bank of PNG has run out of money, that is, foreign exchange, and that has been the case for some years. This has happened because they’re using the country’s cash reserves to prop up a small currency that is not really recognised internationally — for no apparent reason other than to protect the imports of rice and other products people want, although there are clear alternatives around like sweet potato. Rice is easy although there is an abundance of local vegetables that could take its place. This propping-up of the Kina also protects the interests of Chinese importers, who delight in this half-hard currency because they use it to run their own black market. And no-one else is onto that but the Chinese. So, you’ve got the PNG Reserve Bank protecting people that shouldn’t be protected.

So, there is that and, internally you have this extraordinary system where, if you ask the bank for an overdraft, they will charge you 15%. If you have 2 million Kina to put in the bank on a fixed deposit, they will give you 1%. Such a spread of rates is fraudulent. And the finance companies, although they pay more for their money, probably around 5%, lend it out at 17%. That needs to be investigated….

There are also the massive charges made by the banks when sending money overseas. In Australia it is around quarter of a point of 1%, in PNG it might be as high as 8%. It’s just fraud, and this needs to be investigated.

Cash crunch as debt repayment soars

13 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/cash-crunch-as-debt-repayment-soars.html#more

 

Papua New Guinea’s annual debt repayments to China are forecast to increase 25% by 2023, new budget figures show, at the same time as the Pacific nation falls to its largest ever deficit.

The resource-rich country, which is at the centre of a diplomatic tussle between China and the United States, has blamed extravagant spending by the previous administration for its souring finances, which will require the government to borrow even more to pay the bills. Balancing its books has been made more difficult by recalculations to the country’s outstanding debt. It has soared 10% since the last annual budget to 42% of gross domestic product, above the legal limit of 35%. “You have some of those loans clicking in; the repayments are going to be a problem,” said Paul Barker, executive director of Port Moresby-based think tank the Institute of National Affairs.

PNG’s total expenditure in the 2020 budget is forecast to reach a record K18.7 billion against an anticipated K14.1 billion in revenue, creating the largest deficit it has ever faced, according to budget documents.

Sarawak loggers deforest PNG

12 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/sarawak-loggers-deforest-png.html#more

 

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian companies from Sarawak are allegedly trespassing while carrying out logging activities in Papua New Guinea and contributing towards deforestation in the island nation, says Sarawak Report. The online investigative portal accused Sibu-based Rimbunan Hijau Group (RHG) and WTK Group as well as Amanab 56 Timber Investments Limited as among those stripping the resources of PNG.

It then claimed that the biggest player in PNGs logging industry is RHG, headed by tycoon Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King. It claimed that local environmentalists were outraged when Tiong was awarded an honorary knighthood in 2009 for “services to commerce, the community and charitable organisations in PNG” and demanded that he be stripped of the title. “In 2016, The Oakland Institute published a report on the financial records of 30 RHG subsidiaries involved in various activities and services related to logging or agri-business in PNG. “According to the financial records of 16 of the companies they scrutinised, RHG has been working at a loss for over a decade. The report questioned how the largest logging operator in PNG had managed to operate at a loss for such a long period yet remained in business. “The report also exposed ‘massive tax evasion and financial misreporting’ allegedly resulting in the non-payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by the group.

The expose also pointed out that the extent of RHG’s investments in PNG — including a 12-page list of companies it owned that are operating there.  “Evidence of such bad practices were also exposed in the 2016 documentary ‘Bikpela Bagarap’ (‘Big Damage’) by French director, David Fedele.

Ordeal of sorcery survivors

LAST Wednesday, the bodies of two women and a man were found by the banks of Mendi River in Southern Highlands. Police believed the dead were victims of sorcery-related mass killings whose remains were carried downstream from Karintz. The bodies were recovered on Dec 31, Jan 4 and 5.
Western End police commander Asst Comm (ACP) Kaiglo Ambane had urged villagers to help keep a lookout for possibly more bodies floating downstream. The National reproduces below a FLASHBACK of sorcery-related violence survivors reported by ABC and a latest court proceeding of a sorcery-related violence conviction in PNG. One woman survivor of sorcery-related violence, who requested anonymity, was accused of sorcery following the death of a child in her community.
“When the child died, they went to where I was riding back from the garden and they bashed me up on the way,” she said through an interpreter. “After beating me up, they took me to see the child lying dead. They told me I was the one who killed the child, and people were saying I am not from around here, I have no people to protect me — so kill me.” But the woman, who did not hail from the local area, was rescued by a bystander who took her to hospital to receive treatment for her wounds.
A male survivor of sorcery-related violence said he was exiled by his family following the death of a cousin in his community.
“My relatives got together and they said I was the one who used the sorcery on my family member to kill him,” he said through an interpreter. Community leaders in PNG said they are at a loss to explain a recent upsurge in sorcery-related violence that most often targets women, in some parts of the country.
Key points:

  • ATTACKS on women accused of sorcery usually take place in remote areas;
  • SIX women have been killed over witchcraft allegations in the more densely-populated Enga province since September (2017); and
  • CHURCH leaders have raised concerns over a lack of resources and education to tackle the problem

Attacks and murders of people accused of practising witchcraft have spread from remote areas in the country’s highlands to large towns and cities, alarming policy makers trying to address the problem.
Anton Lutz, a Lutheran missionary in PNG’s Enga province, said there had been seven attacks on women accused of witchcraft — known locally as sanguma — in the province since late September.
Six of those were fatal. “In each of these cases, they were precipitated by an unexplained death or illness in the community, and the community then turned on the local scapegoat and started torturing her,” Lutz told the ABC’s Pacific Beat. “And under torture, the women are saying things that incriminate themselves and reinforce these beliefs. “One of the things that people believe about these so-called witches or sanguma is when they’re not being tortured they’ll lie, and if they are being tortured, they’ll tell the truth.”

Mori Reassures that Madang Waters are Safe

Post Courier, Jan 15, 2020

Residents of Madang Province, especially those living along the coastline can now eat fish and use the sea. Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori gave the clearance following the investigation done by the Office of Conservation and Environment Protection Authority.  This was after the slurry spillage from the Ramu Nickel Mine at Basamuk Bay last year. Since that time all fish markets have been closed in the Madang area.

Tribal Conflict Threatens Porgera Mine

January 13, 2020  http://www.pngblogs.com/2020/01/tribal-conflict-threatens-porgera-mine.html

PORGERA Gold Mine in Enga Province is under a serious threat as law and order problems escalate dramatically at present due to the spin off effects of a half-a-decade old severe tribal conflict emanating from the neighbouring Hela Province. The tribal rivalry between two known warlords in Tagali LLG in Tari, Hela has resulted in killing close to 100 people and raged about 90% of the volatile area that once enjoyed peace and prosperity. Now, the effects of the conflict has slowly creeped into Porgera, which hosts a world-class mineral resource project that significantly contributes to the national government coffers…
The principal motive behind every tribal fight is to kill an enemy, to kill men. So when Pujaro, Ekanda and Paijaka areas in Tari are literally deserted with no men living there, what is the point in staging a guerilla style warfare there. The tribal warlords are now following the human trails, they are smelling the fresh bloods, and eventually entering Porgera where there are subjects to be slaughtered as sacrificial lambs….

Under Marape, rights getting worse – report

16 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/under-marape-rights-getting-worse-report.html#more

Human Rights Watch’s annual report reveals rates of violence, domestic abuse, corruption and foreign debt haven’t improved over the past year, where weak enforcement and a lack of accountability fostered a culture of impunity and lawlessness. Its deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson, said despite a change in prime minister, progress was still slow and the key findings were dire.

“We are talking about a very desperately poor country. One where there is a lot of violence that’s committed with impunity … where women are particularly affected, as well as children.

“Forty percent of the population still lives in poverty, and this is a very resource-rich country. Twenty five percent of the children are not in school, and our estimate is that one in 13 have died of preventable disease.” The report found more than two-thirds of women and girls were subjected to domestic violence, while 75 percent of children surveyed across 30 communities experienced violence at home. “PNG has an underfunded health system and children are particularly vulnerable to disease. An estimated one in thirteen children die each year from preventable diseases, and large numbers of children experienced malnutrition resulting in stunted growth,” it said. There was little chance of redressing it with the culture of corruption and impunity that had been fostered, the report said, with corruption convictions rare and prosecutions for brutality at the hands of the state and military few and far between.

PNG must change its spending systems

19 January 2020 

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/png-must-change-its-spending-systems.html#more

Allan Bird. Governor, East Sepik Province.

WEWAK – Our country is overrun with corruption because we do not have effective checks on power. There is a complete lack of checks and balances in the system. In fact I would say that there aren’t any checks and balances at all. We negotiate for an opportunity to spend money. Everyone spends public money, from the prime minister all the way to the local level government presidents, ward members and public servants.

Who checks on the provincial governments? No one.

Who checks on the district development authority? No one.

Who checks on the local level governments? No one.

Who checks on the national government? No one.

The only check and balance is the goodwill of those who are in those positions. We work on consensus. We have consensus in parliament to spend money, we have consensus in the assembly to spend money, we have consensus in the development authority to spend money and we have consensus in the local level government to spend public money on projects we desire.

Right now the only real check and balance is the individual. And if the individual feels he is doing the right thing, the nation is at the mercy of the individual in a position of power to negotiate his opportunity to spend public money. We need strong mechanisms of checks and balances that will say ‘no’ to those spending money and jail them if they don’t comply.

Such a system does not exist in Papua New Guinea right now.

Bougainville govt to change name

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/bougainville-govt-to-change-name.html#more

BUKA – The Autonomous Bougainville Government is set to change its name to the Bougainville Constitutional Transitional Government to reflect the people’s vote for independence.

Bougainville’s post referendum minister Albert Punghau told The National newspaper that because 98% of Bougainvilleans had voted in favour of independence in last year’s referendum, the Bougainville government felt the need to change its name to reflect the overwhelming result.

“The name change by the Bougainville’s government is based entirely on the virtue of the majority of the Bougainvilleans who have voted for independence,” Mr Punghau said. “Bougainville Constitutional Transitional Government reflects Bougainville as the name of our island, the constitution that governs us and the transition we are making to independence.”

Call for more dialogue on ban

January 22, 2020 The National 

Businesses need more dialogue with the Government in regards to the ban on plastic bags which comes into effect from Feb 1, according to the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Chamber president Rio Fiocco told The National that the Government had refused to hold proper talks with businesses and stakeholders on the issue.
“(It) means there is some confusion among many as to what the new regime will actually be,” Fiocco said.
“No one knows what the appropriate materials, specifications and definitions of reusable bags are going to be allowed or not allowed.” Fiocco said they had been told that from March 1, bags should meet certain requirements “which potentially means there could be more, rather than less, environment impact”. “There is no policy in place to tackle the real issue which is to encourage and educate our people to reuse and properly dispose of used bags and packaging waste as a whole,” he said.

Deputy prime minister Davis Steven says NGO has been premature in its judgement of PNG’s human rights and change is now very close (PNG PM Media Unit)

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/png-defends-human-rights-effort.html#more

AUCKLAND – Papua New Guinea’s government has defended its efforts to protect human rights.

This follows a damning international NGO report into the state of human rights in PNG.

Human Rights Watch’s annual summary on PNG says little was done in the past year to tackle corruption, police abuses and domestic violence.

But PNG’s justice minister and attorney-general, Davis Steven, said he was concerned the NGO had ignored various efforts on human rights by a new government which was working to usher in reforms.

Mr Steven, who is also deputy prime minister, said concerns about corruption played a part in the change of government. According to him, the new administration is continuing to work with the United Nations and the European Union on areas concerning human rights.

“Also, there is a very concerted effort with our development partners, including Australia and New Zealand, on certain fronts to build capacity within the law and justice sector to be a lot more focussed on our human rights efforts.” Mr Steven said he was saddened by the negative implications in the report by the NGO, which he said should know that PNG was also preparing to establish a national Human Rights Commission. PNG’s long-mooted Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is also set to become a reality. “Our government in the past six months has actually pushed it to the point where it is now before parliament. It (parliament) sits in February, and I’m very confident that this group of leaders will pass the ICAC bill,” Mr Steven said. Last year’s change in government leadership presaged a change in leadership of the country’s troubled police force. In an effort to eradicate politicisation of the force, as well as abuses by police, the outspoken government critic and opposition MP Bryan Kramer was appointed police minister.

Yet Mr Steven suggested the NGO lacked understanding of the cultural context in PNG when criticising it for treatment of females. The deputy prime minister cited gains made by the O’Neill-led government to have more girls enrolled in schools, saying this drive was continuing under the new administration. “Through our government’s education policy drive, we’ve now started to see a balance in the attention being given to our female children where education is concerned. “Our budget focus for example under the law and justice sector now has the biggest spending on the challenge that we face to deal with complaints of violence against women.” The minister said it was misleading to say the government was ignoring – or complacent about – human rights issues. No one is saying that change on these issues can happen overnight in PNG, but the government and Human Rights Watch clearly have different ideas about the required rate of change.

PNG rated low

January 24, 2020 The National Main Stories

PRIME Minister James Marape yesterday vowed to introduce major reform policies and legislation this year to address the country’s continuing low ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
It will include the establishment of the long-awaited Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Whistleblowers Act. “I announced when I first took office (in May 2019) that ICAC and Whistleblowers Act would be key vessels in reforming our country for the better,” he said.
“The 2020 parliamentary year will be filled with reform legislations that we will bring in.”
According to Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) chairman Peter Aitsi, PNG had shown “little improvement” in its ranking, scoring 28 out 100 and ranked 137 out of 180 countries surveyed. The CPI measures public sector corruption including bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain and nepotism in the civil service.


Momis accuses mining company of lying

26 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/momis-accuses-mining-company-of-lying.html#more

SYDNEY – The president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has accused an Australian-linked mining company of lying to the Australian Securities Exchange over its plans to reopen one of the world’s largest copper mines.  In a scathing statement, ABG president John Momis accused the Australian-linked RTG Mining of “lies and deceptions” and said his government “will not rest until all RTG and their executives are banned for life from Bougainville and Papua New Guinea”.

Dr Momis was referring to a statement issued by RTG Mining to the ASX last Tuesday in which the company sought to clarify recent press reports, which have alleged that RTG staff are banned from entering PNG. In December, after the results of a referendum that saw almost 98% of Bougainvilleans vote in favour of independence from PNG, Momis issued a warning banning people affiliated with certain foreign mining companies, including six from RTG and one from Kalia Group, from entering Bougainville. Momis said they were creating “disharmony” in the region and that he had sought the assistance of the PNG prime minister and office of immigration and border security to assist with keeping them out of Bougainville.

 Asylum seekers released

January 27, 2020The National

EIGHTEEN asylum seekers from Manus Island imprisoned at the Bomana detention centre have been released, according to a report. But refugee advocates say many will never recover, according to a report in Guardian Australia newspaper last weekend. In August, PNG authorities arrested 52 men who had previously been detained on Manus Island on behalf of the Australian government after seeking asylum by boat. As of this year, just 18 of the 52 men remained in the detention centre, after the others had been removed having agreed to return to their country of origin. Many of those who were detained had spent up to seven years in Australia’s offshore detention system, but say the conditions inside Bomana broke them into signing the agreements. The 18 men were moved to three boutique hotels in Port Moresby, Guardian Australia understands. Refugee advocate and Port Moresby Catholic priest Father Giorgio Licini told Guardian Australia he had attempted to visit one of those who had been detained last Thursday night. Even though he is now in a hotel where conditions are better than in Bomana, the man was too tired and weak to see him. “In the hotel, I think, they have good rooms and everything is OK,” Licini said. “What we hope is one way or another through UNHCR they will be resettled somewhere, because they can’t be resettled here.”

PNG, a haven for human trafficking syndicates: Report

January 27, 2020The National

A UNITED Nations report says PNG is a haven for Asian-operated human trafficking syndicates, according to Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven. “Successive governments have failed to address this transnational criminal activity for the last 30 years, since the United Nation, World Bank and the United States government produced a joint report highlighting our vulnerability,” he said.
“They have monitored us over the years and I’m saddened to say that the 2018 report by UN has given PNG a very bad rating whereby we are one of the few countries in the Asia Pacific region that is very vulnerable to human trafficking syndicates.” “And that is an indication that if we do not start improving on our poor enforcement and prosecution of human traffickers, it can affect our international reputation and relationship, especially where support of the Government in terms of foreign aid is concerned.”

Is sustainable forestry a fantasy?

28 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/is-sustainable-forestry-a-fantasy.html#more

 

Two years ago my tribe in the Prince Alexander range of East Sepik Province obtained a Roadline TA licence from the PNG Forest Authority. The intention was to commercially harvest logs along a 40 metre road corridor as a way of enticing private investors to build a main road into our hamlets and open up access to the outside world. I produced an investment flyer of the opportunity and shared it with one investor from the United States and another from Australia who was a former colleague with connections to wealthy Indian business people.

We also met with a wealthy Chinese businessman to discuss the opportunity.

All three investors looked at the proposition from a disinterested point of view and considered only the commerciality of the available volume. All three said the volume was not commercially viable.

So the response was a unanimous no. None of them knew each other so could not have possibly colluded against us. Given these two cases, can we harvest our forests in both a commercially viable and environmentally sustainable way? Indeed, should we even attempt to harvest them on a large scale at all?

UBS – the unnecessary loan

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/ubs-the-unnecessary-loan.html#more

29 January 2020

David Kitchnoge – explains the loan should never have been

PORT MORESBY – As the infamous UBS loan inquiry commences here in the national capital, let’s take a quick look at how we got here. The Papua New Guinea government had a 17.6% interest in Oil Search when Oil Search merged with Orogen Minerals in 2002. When the PNG LNG project crystallised in 2009, and the final investment decision had to be made, the government’s legislated funding obligation kicked in. But the government needed to first repay 19.5% of the sunk cost to exercise its so-called ‘back-in-rights’ and hence acquire equity in the massive project.

And then, once it was in, the government needed to fund its share of the construction costs.

To be able to meet these huge funding obligations, the government entered into an exchangeable bond arrangement with the Middle-East based IPIC to raise US$1.1 billion.

At this time, PNG effectively sold its 17.6% stake in Oil Search. This point needs to be made clear. This was when we sold our Oil Search shares.

A press release announcing the IPIC bond on the Oil Search website clearly spelled out IPIC’s intention to convert the bond to Oil Search shares upon maturity.

So IPIC had always intended to own the shares in Oil Search once held by PNG government.

The reason the deal was transacted as a bond rather than as an outright sale and purchase of shares was because the value of our Oil Search shares wasn’t sufficient to provide the amount we needed (US$1.1 billion) but there was potential for the shares to grow to that amount over time.

The bond was structured to limit the downside risks for the Arabs whilst allowing PNG to pre-sell its shareholding in Oil Search. It was a smart deal. Anyone who says they could have done a better job than Arthur Somare and his team at that time would be lying.

Given the intent of the IPIC exchangeable bond as I’ve explained, there was no need to refinance it upon maturity. The Arabs were always going to grab our Oil Search shares to redeem their bond. That had been their intention from day dot.

And by some stroke of luck or ingenuity, the value of those shares had increased over that time to sufficiently cover the bond principal as originally envisaged in the deal. Stars were aligned and it was a case of tok idai!

On our part, we leveraged a less valuable asset (Oil Search shares) with an uncertain dividend stream to acquire a more lucrative asset (a share in PNG LNG) with an excellent dividend stream.

So we never lost anything. It was a smart move that created real value for PNG. There was no need to keep our Oil Search shares once they were taken by the Arabs under the terms of the IPIC bond.

Given all this, the UBS loan should never have been negotiated in the first place.

Even if PNG had negotiated it in the hope of redeeming the IPIC bond, the loan should simply have been cancelled when it became clear that the Arabs weren’t giving up the Oil Search shares. It was that simple.

When Peter O’Neill ran out of excuses for the disastrous UBS loan that was unnecessary, he used the nonsensical argument that the PNG government needed to remain a significant shareholder in Oil Search because it was the largest employer in PNG and needed to be protected from outside interests.

Well guess what? We are no longer a shareholder, the Arabs are now a substantial shareholder, and Oil Search is still going strong.

Papua New Guinea Church Against Social Ills

http://www.heraldmalaysia.com/news/papua-new-guinea-church-against-social-ills/51620/2

Caritas PNG and the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands expressed their concern in a note to the Vatican’s Fides news agency. According to Caritas, human trafficking in Papua New Guinea is a very complex problem given its variety of forms, the situation of the victims and the nature of criminals who perpetrate the abuses.  A recent report, published by the local newspaper, “Post Courier”, showed that several foreign multinationals carry out activities not foreseen in their licenses and even contrary to the laws of PNG. A note from Caritas PNG, sent to Fides, suggested two practical solutions. Firstly, it calls for prompt judicial proceedings against traffickers and those who benefit from them at different levels.  Caritas also calls for greater cooperation and awareness on human trafficking and the defence of victims, both at the national and international levels through cooperation among government networks, businesses, religious communities and civil society.

Generosity is what counts

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/generosity-is-what-counts.html#more

30 January 2020

Ordinary Simbu people and some business people have donated money to the bushfire appeal, saying this is one way of repaying Australia for all she has done for them

FRANCIS NII

KUNDIAWA – In a critical economic situation like now in Papua New Guinea, when even a single kina matters a lot to many families, the generosity shown by the Simbu people toward the Simbu for Australia bushfire fundraising appeal is amazing. Simbus from all walks of life poured their hearts out for the fundraising effort to help the people of Australia affected by devastating bushfires.

Incredibly, elderly mothers clambered up the rocky Simbu mountains to give some money, so did young children, as did market hawkers in Kundiawa, public servants, educated elites in faraway places and small business entrepreneurs. And it wasn’t only the people of Simbu making donations but the neighbouring Jiwaka people, including political icon and Jiwaka chief Sir Philip Kapal and his daughter Debbie, who donated K500 and K1,000 respectively. The generosity of people has been so amazing and the fundraising committee wondered why that was so? One phrase frequently uttered, particularly elderly donors, was “Australia em mama” (‘Australia is our parent’).

An old woman placing a handful of coins in the donation box said in perfect Tok Pisin, “Astralia i lukautim yumi taim yumi no save long rit na rait. Ol i bringim lotu, school na hausik. Ol i wokim ples balus, rot na bris. Na bihain ol i givim independens long yumi tasol ol ino lusim yumi. Ol i givim moni yet. Nau ol i gat hevi, em taim blong yumi long helpim ol,”

‘Australia looked after us when we did not know how to read and write. They brought churches, education and health services. They built airstrips, roads and bridges. Later they gave us independence but they didn’t leave us. They continue to give us money. Now that they face problem, this is our time to help them.’

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