Social Concerns Notes – January 2011

Social Concerns Notes – January 2011

Democracy index: Papua New Guinea


The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2010 Democracy index ranks Papua New Guinea (PNG) 59th out of 167 countries, a slight improvement from its position in the 2008 index, putting it among the countries classed as “flawed democracies”. This designation also includes Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. Although elections in PNG are technically free, election related violence and electoral fraud are serious problems. Nevertheless, the election in 2007 demonstrated improvements in these areas, and was generally regarded as being one of the most peaceful in PNG’s history.

Type Overall score Overall rank
2010 Flawed democracy 6.54 out of 10 59 out of 167
2008 Flawed democracy 6.54 out of 10 61 out of 167

Climate Change, by JAMES LARAKI of NARI

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Cancun, Mexico, reached important agreements, aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change.
The two-week long Cancun talks attended by more than 190 countries negotiated at length to reach agreements on the best possible ways to cut carbon emissions.
Such attempts made at the end of last year in Copenhagen ended in chaos and there were fears that the Cancun talks could failed again.
However, after two weeks of negotiating, rich and poor countries agreed a compromise that will see all countries committed to cutting emissions for the first time.
The outcome of the talks was an agreement which aims to limit global warming to less than 2 C above pre-industrial levels and calls on rich countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as pledged in the Copenhagen Accord and for developing countries to plan to reduce their emissions.
The agreements oblige rich countries to contribute $30 billion in new aid over the next three years, growing the fund to $100 billion a year by 2020, to a Green Climate Fund.
This fund would help developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change induced incidents such as floods, prolong dry periods and other factors that are likely affected livelihoods of the global poor.
While all nations are obliged to reduce emissions, how much will global emission be reduced and by when are some unanswered questions that negotiators continue to push them around.
And many commentators are of the view that the ambitions to keep the temperature raise at 2C may be nowhere near to prevent disasters that are likely to occur across the globe.
Important decisions on implementation of the cuts of emissions, how this burden will be shared between developed and developing countries, and how all this will be enforced have been once again pushed back by a year.
All these are likely to be considered at the next round of negotiations scheduled for December 2011 in Durban, South Africa.
Developing countries including Papua New Guinea are required under the agreement to device plans to reduce emissions and see best to benefit from the Green Climate Fund.
PNG, for example needs to understand how we fit into such agreements as the issue of climate change is of paramount to over 80% of the six million plus people.
We need to understand what would be done to achieve the required rate of reducing emission and whether the funding available could cater of the expected cuts.
While it is not clear what exactly rich countries are targeting by establishing this fund, reducing or minimising deforestation is obvious.
But deforestation may not work well for many developing nations including PNG who depend on it for income.
Many participants have cited the Cancun Agreements concerning REDD (Reductions in Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) as another cause for optimism.
After all, deforestation causes roughly as many emissions globally as transportation does, and the Agreements pledge to give developing countries financial incentives to leave forests standing. If that has to happen, the incentives should march the likely income that would have come from harvesting forest.
Developing countries need to make a realistic approach to this and work out whether their expected income from harvesting forest can be compensated from the Green Climate Fund.
Such realistic figures could form the basis of negotiations and should help development of guidelines on how the fund is managed and disbursed.
In PNG, for example, it important that all concerned parties including resource owners should come up with plans to address the issue on hand.
Arguably the most important question left dangling after Cancun is the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
The advantage of Kyoto from a scientific perspective is that it imposes mandatory rather than voluntary emissions reductions, at least on rich nations; developing nations are exempted on the grounds that overcoming poverty must be their first priority.
Of course, the mandatory nature of Kyoto is precisely why the United States—alone among rich industrial countries—has refused to ratify it.
In Cancun, other rich nations signaled that they’ve had enough.
First Japan and then Russia and Canada announced they would abandon the protocol if other big emitters, the United States and China remained outside its purview.
The Cancun Agreements, however, may have opened a door to resolving this dispute, for they oblige all nations to reduce future emissions.
The challenge between now and next December in Durban is to translate that general principle into specific, proportional, binding targets for rich and poor countries alike and, much harder, generate the political pressure to compel national leaders to accept those targets.
PNG and other developing nations need to have an established leadership on climate change that is seen to be negotiating on their behalf at global forums like the Cancun talks.
Such leaderships are required as we need to play an active role in such talks as it stands us affect us all.
National Agriculture Research Institute (including other state agencies) and NGOs have developed initiatives aimed at increasing awareness, generation and adaptation of appropriate technologies to climate change, and reduce emissions.
With support from the national government, NARI is taking the lead in mitigating the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security.
All these initiatives and those of others need to be supported.
All concerned agencies need to come together and prepare PNG well to participate at Durban negotiations come December as the climate change scenario looks to be extremely dangerous and negotiations cannot go on forever.
In fact we shouldn’t be waiting so long to get started.

PNG Attitude: Analysing the PNG budget for 2010-11


MOST PAPUA NEW GUINEANS are simply trying to get by: earn a living, pay school fees, get medical care for loved-ones.

Many will also be wondering how, or if, their government will deliver critical services to help them along. The 2011 Budget provides some indications.

The budget of $3.5 billion is the country’s biggest yet and is equivalent to about K1,500 for each person in PNG. How confident are you that the government will use taxpayers money wisely? The rest of this article is based on publicly available data from PNG Treasury documents.

Economic growth. Before looking further at how to spend K1,500 per person, let’s take a quick look at the economic growth forecasts.

The good news is that the growth numbers in the budget documents are more or less consistent with the targeted 8.5% p.a. average growth between now and 2015 – making PNG probably the fastest growing economy in the Pacific.

But averages can be deceptive, and this average depends on the LNG project proceeding on schedule and a consequent 23% growth in 2015. Moreover, this growth will only benefit most people indirectly. And there is very little in the way of LNG tax revenues flowing by 2015.

So, from an individual perspective, it’s probably more relevant to focus on what is happening to non-mineral growth. The news is good. With forecast growth 4.6 % p.a. between now and 2015, non-mineral GDP per person that was just over K3,000 last year would reach K4,000 by 2015.

Mineral revenues. Turning to mineral revenues, the picture is mixed. The government collects revenue from the mineral sector through taxes and dividends, both forecast to fall sharply over the medium term. This is partly a reflection of Treasury’s tendency to be conservative in its forecasts, but there are other factors in play.

It is possible that the financing of the LNG project will impact on receipts, or perhaps Treasury is assuming the Ok Tedi mine will close. That might explain why mining and petroleum dividends, about K300m this year, disappear in 2013 and 2014.

Government spending. There are two perspectives on the level of spending. One is that spending is too high, and PNG should be running a budget surplus to mitigate the risk of revenue losses later and to deal with capacity constraints. The second view is that, with LNG revenues expected to come in 2018, and pressing development constraints, PNG needs to spend more now.

Both views have merit. The critical issue, though, is not whether to save or spend but how effectively to spend. Additional recurrent spending is welcome given the chronic underfunding of basic services in PNG, but are the extra resources getting to where they are needed?

Education. Education is a key basic service and accounts for 15% of total spending. The biggest increases were for non-teacher recurrent spending and the Development Budget, while the allocations for teacher salaries and provincial function grants got only a small increase.

While there was more money allocated to teacher salaries, this was only a tiny increase and falls a long way short of what the government has previously estimated is needed. Moreover, adjusted for inflation, funding for teacher salaries is flat, and lower than in previous years.

Based on this analysis, it is not clear where the funding will come from to pay for the extra teachers the government plans to recruit. Though, in the past, Treasury has pulled money for pay increases out of its miscellaneous allocation.

School fee subsidies, a topical issue at this time of year, will provide a 11% (real) boost for parents in 2011, but there are no increases thereafter. Given the challenges of service delivery in PNG and sharing mineral wealth, school fee subsidies are arguably the most effective way to indirectly reach the majority of Papua New Guineans.

Budget analysis. As the government prepares for a $31 billion inflow of LNG revenues, it is everybody’s business to check on how it is managing taxpayers money – starting with the K1,500 for each Papua New Guinean that will be spent this year. Will it deliver the services that people need?

Matthew Morris is a Research Fellow at the Crawford School and Deputy Director of the Development Policy Centre.

Source: Development Policy Newsletter, January 2011

Report on Violence and Insecurity in the Southern Highlands


This report presents the results of a study conducted in the Hela region of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea over a 16-month period (October 2007 – March 2009). The study had the broad aim of exploring perceptions of insecurity, looking at the scale, nature, triggers and impacts of interpersonal and tribal violence. The main purpose of the study was to generate information for advocacy and to inform the policies and programme development of Oxfam and its local partner in the region, Hela Community Care.

Download report:

PC 18 Jan 10: Police swoop on Barrick employees – Porgera


POLICE have begun arresting terminated employees of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) implicated in alleged sexual assaults against women and other serious crimes, with many more terminations and arrests expected in the coming weeks.
Acting Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie and PJV announ-ced this yesterday, stating that this is a result of a three-month investigation by a special police team set up last year by then Police Commissioner Gari Baki in the Porgera District and an internal investigation conducted by the PJV in line with the mine’s zero tolerance policy regarding employee behaviour of any kind of violence or human rights abuse against women and men.
Those terminated also include employees who knew about the assaults but failed to report to authorities, as well as those who allegedly misled investigators.
PJV said it expected its employees who saw or heard about such acts to immediately report to the appropriate authorities.
Mr Wagambie has warned he will not tolerate any kind of violent and criminal behaviour against women “on his watch” and perpetrators will be brought to justice.
“Enough is enough … These arrests send a strong warning to those who would assault the most vulnerable members of our communities – women and young people – that their actions will not be tolerated,” he said.
“The warning is clear – respect the human rights of others and follow the laws of this land, otherwise we will find you and we will bring you to justice without fear or favour.”
He said after receiving solid intelligence on these matters from the mine mangers of Barrick Gold and their independent investigators, the police moved in quickly to identify the alleged offenders.
“The mine took immediate actions after the disturbing results of an internal investigation into allegations of assaults and other serious crimes,” said Barrick executive general manager Mark Fisher in a joint statement from Barrick Gold Corporation and Mineral Resources Enga.
“We have terminated employees who were found to have breached out strict code of conduct regarding employee behaviour.”
He said PJV asked police to investigate when it received credible allegations in June last year. PJV also asked Ila Geno, the former Chief Ombudsman Comm-issioner and a former police commissioner to conduct an independent inquiry into alleged violence against women and report the findings directly to police.
Barrick also conducted a thorough internal investigation which involved a 15-member independent investigative team.
This team spent several months at the mine interviewing more than 650 employees and conducting a comprehensive investigation of staff and procedures.
“We have been working in close co-operation with the PNG police and we will continue to provide information and support to aid in their criminal investigation,” Mr Fisher said. “We condemn these alleged crimes in the strongest possible terms and wish to see anyone involved brought to justice under PNG law.”
Meanwhile, Mr Wagambie has revealed that investigations into other reported cases, including alleged abuses by police in the same area were continuing.
“No-one is above the law, even members for the Constabulary. Make no mistake – we are coming for them too. The best course of action for anyone who has information about these matters, or who has witnessed assaults or sexual assaults on women and young girls is to come forward now and report these matters to police. “Don’t be afraid to report these things – staying silent helps nobody.”

PNG powerbrokers snap up property (A view from Australia)


Australia is pressing regional countries to adopt tough anti-corruption standards

WHEN Papua New Guinea’s petroleum minister bought a Cairns McMansion in

2001, the deal was so “quick and easy” that the agent selling the property thought he was dealing with the wealthy owner of a coffee plantation. Despite buying in the depths of the global financial crisis, William Duma didn’t aggressively negotiate for a better price. He paid $585,000 for the 330sq m, five-bedroom, two-bathroom home with water views after securing the services of a Cairns agent to do the deal.

(The rest of the article available on request )

TN25 Jan : CEO: No plans for labour ward due to no funds

PORT Moresby General Hospital chief executive officer, Sam Vegogo, said there are no immediate extension plans for the hospital including the maternity wing, which receives 40 to 50 visits a day from mothers, to its labour ward.
Vegogo said the focus currently was on major renovations to be carried out in specific sections of the hospital while expansion plans had been considered but could not be executed due to limited funding.
The labour ward has 23 beds for mothers during child labour but that hospital’s nursing staff have expressed concerns that space was lacking, considering the increase in number of mothers it had been receiving.
“We do about 30 deliveries in a day, on average.
“The labour ward is busy everyday with mothers coming from the city and even from villages in Central, so there is a need for extra beds in the ward,” a nurse at maternity wing said recently.
She said the something must be done at the wards 9, 10 and 11 of the maternity wing to ease the problem with overcrowding and with the many mothers sleeping on bare floors when they are admitted.
“We have considered major infrastructure to the hospital but these may not happen immediately.
“We have drafted the 2011-15 service improvement plan (SIP) which includes all clinical services and also infrastructure and starting 2012 budget we are looking at marginal increase that can be able to help us improve not only the building but the training of personnel staff or people to maintain these infrastructure,” Vegogo said.
The CEO added that the hospital’s SIP would be presented in March with the corporate plan.

The statistical nonsense coming out of PNG


2010 Human Development Report, The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development, United Nations Development Program

PNG SCARCELY REPORTS a single statistical indicator accurately. This leads to nonsense in PNG’s entries in the Human Development Report (HDR) and a blank against many of the research topics ANU scholars pursue.

For PNG, the topic of food security is well-covered through national nutrition surveys, collaboration between researchers at the ANU, PNG’s National Agricultural Research Institute and elsewhere, and papers in the PNG Medical Journal.

Despite well-documented, localised food shortages, ‘daily calorie supply’, was reported for PNG at around 100% of requirements in HDRs in the 1990s. After 2000, ‘undernourished people as a % of total population’ took its place. This was reported at a belt-tightened 26-29% until 2004, then at a less serious value, and not at all from 2007.

Did Papua New Guineans feast through the 1990s only to starve in the 2000s? No, it is just any attention on the concept of ‘poverty’ in PNG is met with such populist outrage that it is awfully difficult to get empirical data from local reports into international ones.

Income poverty – living on less than $1.25 a day – was last reported in the HDR at 35.8% of the population (in 2009) and is now also missing from the current report…

PNG’s figures for life expectancy in the HDR are made up. The only calculations of life expectancy in PNG from nationally-collected data are those of the demographer Martin Bakker: 49.6 years and 54.2 years in the 1980 and 2000 censuses respectively. With the HIV-AIDS epidemic taking hold in PNG in the last decade, life expectancy might be going down again: we really have no idea.

The ‘decline’ of the maternal mortality ratio (deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes/100,000 live births) is another example of Dr Pangloss at work. The HDRs claim a remarkable fall in PNG, from 900 to 250 over the 20 years.

But with no death registration in PNG, where have the figures come from? They are also made up. Glen Mola of the Port Moresby General Hospital, PNG’s expert in these matters, currently accepts a figure of between 700 and 900, for an appalling lifetime risk for women of dying from pregnancy of 1 in 20. PNG has gone nowhere.

Who cares, or who should care, if a national government will not?

Donors. Their citizens may reasonably hope for some statistical evidence of their largesse, not idleness in the ministries that aid targets or, worse, a trowelling over of inconvenient discoveries. But even as ministers announced the aid priority for a statistical roadmap, the 2010 census was being undermined. The Census Office eventually conceded that the government had not allocated funds and has said it will try again next year.

Scholars. Many in the College of Asia and the Pacific, and their collaborators in national institutions in PNG, work hard in each of the HDR indicator areas. Other poor they have taken an interest in but who don’t feature in the 2010 HDR include refugees and victims of violence. Diana Glazebook could well be cross that the 2791 residents of the East Awin camps in the 2000 census – who haven’t gone anywhere – were reported as “0.0 thousands” in 2010. The contributors to Conflict and resource development in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea will shake their heads to see the missing indicators on ‘conventional arms transfers’, homicide, robbery and assault rates.

International community. Helen Clark says in the foreword this year ‘not all the trends are positive, as we know too well’. She’s not kidding. If PNG had the health profile of Fiji – by no means an HDR saint – something like 8000 excess deaths among under fives and 1000 excess deaths of mothers would be saved in PNG, and with Fiji’s homicide rate, perhaps another 1000 murder victims, each year. These are big numbers – 350,000 avoidable fatalities since Independence, more than the population of Vanuatu, or Oro and New Ireland Provinces combined. But apart from Sweden, the only country to go backwards on the Human Development Index in 2010 was international whipping boy Zimbabwe. For the rest of the backsliders, PNG included, face was saved by simply not reporting bad news.

I like the HDR a good deal, but the international community owes it to the poor, the victimised and the needless dead to do a better job when governments contrive, by omission or commission, to erase them from statistical view.

Source: ‘HDR: a nearest neighbour analysis’ by John Burton, Development Policy Newsletter, January 2011

John Burton is a Research Fellow, Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program, at the Crawford School, ANU.


Restriction on Global Fund Payments for PNG  (Yahoo News 26 Jan 11)

GENEVA (AFP) – The head of the Global Fund Against AIDS, TB and Malaria on Monday pledged “zero tolerance” for corruption following reports that it was dealing with cases that had prompted donor nation Sweden’s concern.

“The global fund has zero tolerance for corruption and actively seeks to uncover any evidence of misuse of its funds,” said Michel Kazatchkine, the Fund’s executive director, underlining that its anti-fraud controls were “most rigorous”.

Kazatchkine said the cases of corruption reported in the media over the weekend were not new and had already been revealed by the Fund last year on its website, and acted on. They involved “grave misuse” of about 34 million dollars for projects in Djibouti, Mali, Mauritania and Zambia that had gone missing in the four African countries, he explained.

Kazatchkine said the Fund had recovered 19 million dollars so far.

The Fund revealed last June that it had suspended aid to Zambia pending action by local authorities on fraud.

Kazatchkine said Monday that criminal proceedings were underway there as well as in Mali and Mauritania, but he did not mention Djibouti.

A top prosecutor in Mali said in September that several health ministry officials had been arrested during a probe into embezzlement from the Fund.

The Fund has imposed additional restrictions on cash transfers, while the safeguards were also in place for Ivory Coast and Papua New Guinea.

A Swedish newspaper reported on Saturday that Sweden had told Kazatchkine that it would not commit to its 167 million euro contribution to the fund unless more was done to ensure that cash is not siphoned off.

“Sweden did not say that it would withdraw,” Kazatchkine told journalists.

“On the contrary I came back Friday evening from Stockholm with the statement that Sweden would contribute and would increase its constributions to the Fund,” he added.

The UN-backed agency provides grants for selected projects against the three diseases in poor nations, allocating money provided by governments and private donors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“In his report last year, the Global Fund inspector general listed grave misused of funds in four of the 145 countries which receive grants from the Global Fund,” Kazatchkine said. “In total the Global Fund is demanding the recovery of US 34 millions dollars unaccounted in these countries out of a total disbursement of 13 billion dollars.”

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