Social Concerns Notes – October 2011

In a cycle of five years the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva conducts a Universal Periodic Review.  Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands each came under review in May this year.  Both countries presented their own report on the situation in their countries, and other states had the opportunity to question them and raise issues.  The government delegations had the chance to respond immediately to the issues raised, or to debate them back home and provide a response before the next UN session – which in this case was September 2011.  Papua New Guinea was asked to respond to 146 recommendations.  The delegation responded to 75 immediately, refused 2, and responded affirmatively or negatively to another 69 in September.   The Solomon Islands was asked to respond to 107 recommendations.  The delegation responded immediately to 49 and responded affirmatively or negatively to another 58 in September this year.

The documentation from this exercise reveals much about how the world views Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in terms of Human Rights issues.  The replies by both countries also provide insights into the way our governments view the issues raised, The documents are too lengthy to include here. However they are available through the UNHuman Rights Commission website, www.ohchr.org, or you could contact me at gibbs199@gmail.com and I can send some of the documents as email attachments.   Ed.

The following is an editorial in The National newspaper, after the PNG response became public.

Why the world is watching us  [editorial]  14 November 2011.

LAST month, PNG’s human rights record came under the close scrutiny of the United Nations.
Countries with no representation in PNG made indepth comments on the state of affairs in this country. The responses it received and the recommendations made by fewer than 36 countries are heartening. Papua New Guineans must take heart that they are not alone with their problems and that there are friendly nations out there who are concerned and are willing to help. The PNG government is pleased with the overwhelming and positive comments and recommendations it received.
The Human Rights Council made 146 recommendations on various issues ranging from domestic and sexual violence to the state of the country’s prisons. PNG accepted 114 and rejected 32 of them. It is important to note some of the recommendations PNG did not accept.
PNG is a young country which is founded on the principles of democracy, good governance and rule of law. The PNG Constitution accords all persons their basic rights and fundamental freedoms that are commonly shared among humanity, irrespective of race, creed, religion or nationality. A milestone achievement is the proposed establishment of the PNG National Human Rights Commission that should be operational next year. Another achievement is the proposal to reserve 22 seats exclusively for women in the coming general election. This will increase women participation in the political affairs of PNG and give our people a chance to see their women at work as leaders rather than in their traditional capacity as nurturers and workers.
Despite the noble intentions contained in PNG’s international commitments, and in its constitution and policies, the greatest difficulty has been implementation. This is, perhaps, PNG’s biggest downfall. PNG is faced with many complex socio-economic problems that hinder its capacity to protect and promote human rights issues. The special report noted, for instance: “Issues of capacity and resource constraints, as well as tough geographical terrains, cultural diversity and lack of infrastructure developments, seriously undermine PNG’s efforts to
implement the human rights commitments and obligations. “These factors as well as issues of capacity and resource constraints have been the major considerations which have led PNG to reject 32 of the recommendations. “A few of those recommendations pertain to PNG’s laws on death penalty, which cannot be easily repealed by parliament. “Despite the existence of this law, Papua New Guinea has never enforced it since enactment.” The core of the report on PNG pertains to the rights of women and children. Almost every country noted with deep concern the appalling state of domestic and sexual violence in the country. This is a deep-rooted problem that is getting worse rather than better with each passing year. It perhaps ranks as PNG’s worst human rights abuse area. This is one area that PNG needs to address urgently.
It is one thing to ratify all treaties and protocols but quite another to fulfill the obligations contained in them.
We note with concern that PNG continues to insist at international forums that it will implement commitments such as the millennium development goals at its own pace. Such an excuse cannot be blamed on capacity and resources constraints alone. PNG must make every effort to keep pace with the rest of the world. To reject the recommendation for universal primary education on the basis of resources constraints and geographical difficulties is, again, a poor excuse and it would seem to go against the grain of the government’s stated policy to provide free education for all from elementary through to high school. The successful examination of Papua New Guinea by the countries of the world shows us that there are countries that are watching our progress and who stand willing and ready to assist if we will ask them. That is, perhaps, the greatest compliment any nation can get.

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Logging has been another issue with a high profile this month.  It is very noticiable the different views on this issue by the two principal English newspapers in Papua New Guinea, with the Post Courier opposing logging and pro-Greenpeace, and the National (owned by Malaysian logging company RH) objecting to the protests.   The two following articles address this matter.  Ed.

Revelations PNG police used by loggers against villagers

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/201110/s3336804.htm

A senior Papua New Guinea police officer has revealed a logging company financed a crackdown on villagers protesting against an oil palm plantation.

The villagers say they were harassed and abused because of their opposition to the controversial project.

Police say the protestors were acting illegally and the logging company simply paid to fly in officers to keep the peace.

Rapacity: Over 80% of PNG’s forests under threat

BY DR CRAIG THORBURN.  Source: Asian Correspondent, 21 October
http://asiancorrespondent.com/67683/the-indonesianisation-of-papua-new-guinea

Don’t Californicate Oregon Oregon was a popular slogan in the western United States during the 1960s and ‘70s. It was a repudiation of the mindless, haphazard development of land that had by that time already transformed southern California into ‘the world’s biggest strip mall’. A similar groundswell of sentiment now seems to be spreading across the jungles and villages of Papua New Guinea. The developmental demon in this case, however, is not California-style urban sprawl, but Indonesia-style forest exploitation. At issue is the wide-scale transfer of title to millions of hectares of densely forested land from customary local ownership to the state through a mechanism known as lease-leaseback, and then into the names of landowner companies, which contract developers to construct roads and develop ‘agro-forestry projects’.

According to articles published earlier this year, more than five million hectares of forest – around 11% of the country – has been alienated via this mechanism. It has triggered public outrage, expert alarm and the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate charges that most of these leases are merely a front for unregulated logging. As such, Papua New Guinea appears poised to repeat the experience of Indonesia’s logging boom of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, during which an estimated 64 million hectares of tropical forest – roughly 40% of the country’s total forest cover – fell to the chainsaws and bulldozers of rapacious crony conglomerates.

Papua New Guinea is widely regarded as a bastion of biodiversity. Over 97% of land is under customary title, and the vast majority of people depend on the forest for their food, livelihoods and shelter. The PNG Land Groups Incorporation Act 1974 (LGIA) does not allow customary land owners to alienate land to non-customary owners. In 2007, the PNG government passed two new laws enabling the registration of customary land. Grassroots organisations have been struggling to thwart enactment of this legislation, fearing that communities will sign away their rights for tiny sums of money or enticing gifts. However, it now appears that this campaign is moot, as millions of hectares of crucial forest lands have changed hands through the lease-leaseback provision, which has been in existence since the passage of the 1974 Land Act.

A Commission of Inquiry in Port Moresby has initiated an investigation of 72 SABL contracts, to determine whether lease developers are loggers trying to bypass forestry laws and that a majority have – in the words of the inquiry’s brief – acquired their rights “without proper knowledge and involvement of the landowners”. Greenpeace and University of PNG reports estimate that at current levels of logging, by 2021, 83% of the nation’s commercially accessible forests will have been cleared or degraded.

‘Little common ground as land grab splits a people’

Jo Chandler  SMH October 15, 2011 http://www.smh.com.au/world/little-common-ground-as-land-grab-splits-a-people-20111014-1lp09.html#ixzz1av4uvVSs

Papua New Guinea is torn between customary rights and economic progress. From 200 metres up, the jungles of Papua New Guinea’s Western Province look like close-packed heads of broccoli. The canopy is so dense you can’t see the trees for the forest. Four years ago, then prime minister Sir Michael Somare described these seemingly impenetrable landscapes to the United Nations’ climate change meeting in Bali as ”our planet’s lungs, thermostat and airconditioning system”. It was a moment of high rhetoric, spearheading a pitch by impoverished, forested nations to wealthy, denuded ones to invest in preserving the green bits of the globe. But reality intrudes as fiercely as the weather in these parts. Suddenly the cloud closes in and the forest is obscured, much like Somare’s grand vision.

Pundits wrangle over the contention by some that customary title endures as the overwhelming impediment to Papua New Guinea’s economic advancement – and by others that such thinking fails to grasp the significance of land, in terms of spirituality and identity, as well as material sustenance, and how corrosive its erosion could be. Where economists agree is that at the core of the many challenges facing the fragile nation is how to reconcile the exploitation of the land’s wealth with the rights of customary landowners.

Controversial lease agreements that shift control of the land from customary local ownership to the state have already swallowed up almost 18 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s forests, says Justin Ondopa of Papua New Guinea’s Eco-Forestry Forum. Clearing is already underway on many sites and Dr Ondopa calculates that if the trend continues, by 2021 about 83 per cent of forests will be gone or degraded.

Domestically, the preoccupation is with the legitimacy of the 72 special agricultural and business leases now under investigation, many of them allegedly being obtained through corruption or negligence and executed – in the words of the commissioners’ brief – ”without proper knowledge and involvement of the landowners”, posing ”great danger” to the nation.

Pressure for a halt on the deals peaked in March with the intervention of the UN Commission on Human Rights over the ”dramatic acceleration” in the alienation of indigenous title in Papua New Guinea. This followed an attack by one of the nation’s most senior public servants on the beleaguered lands office handling the leases. The Attorney-General’s Department secretary, Lawrence Kalinoe, told a public meeting the department was ”entirely corrupt” and that ”officers and certain rogue landowners are colluding and conniving with each other to sell off customary land for their own benefit and interest, while the majority of landowners are left out”. Disputes over the deals have split communities, causing anxiety and divisions between champions of the leases – desperate for the opportunities they promise – and objectors.

A former local politician, Dina Gabo, has devoted years to trying to find a way to get a road to his home town of Nomad, where about 15,000 people live beyond the reach of the outside world unless they can raise 350 kina ($155) for an airfare, or trek four days through the bush to Kiunga. He founded a landowner company in 1995. ”Our aim was to build a road and we would allow a developer to collect timbers in return. Through that, we thought we might get better health and education,” he says. A road means nurses, teachers, technology and supplies can be easily delivered and sick children, pregnant women, surplus crops and fish for sale can be ferried out. One of the fiercest opponents of the leases, the Kiunga businessman and former Papua New Guinean government minister, Warren Dutton, compares the vast claims to the enclosure movement that fenced off communal land in Britain. ”It’s taking away the peasants’ land and giving it to the chief of the landowning class,” he says. …

Over the next decade the loggers cut a swathe down a 240-kilometre route. In June this year Papua New Guinea’s national court ordered Concord Pacific to pay record damages of 226 million kina to local tribes to compensate them for the damage – heavy erosion, constant flooding, the destruction of food gardens and the loss of local game. The judge said the project had completely destroyed the lives of local people. And there was still no road.

Candidates to pay K1000    Post Courier 3/10/2011
ALL intending candidates for the 2012 National Elections in Papua New Guinea will have to pay their nominations fees of K1000 to their provincial treasuries, election officials have announced.
Journalists from the Highlands, Momase and New Guinea Islands region attending the election workshop in Kokopo, East New Britain were told that all intending candidates will now nominate next year upon presenting receipts from the their Provincial Treasuries and not cash at their respective election offices.
Meanwhile, the PNGEC’s tentative election program still stands at:
– ISSUE of Writs: Friday, April 27, 2012 (4pm)
– NOMINATIONS close: Friday, May 04th, 2012 (4pm)
– POLLING starts: Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
– POLLING ends: Friday, July 06th, 2012 and
– RETURN of writs of or before: Friday, July 27th, 2012
“This 2012 National General Election program is tentative and is subject to variations,” the officials said.

A piece from the Solomons – surely relevant for PNG also!

We need the taxi meters   Solomon Star  24 Oct. 2011

The move by the Honiara City Council (HCC) to install metres in cabs/taxis operating in Honiara is a good one. Many people would not dispute it.  It’s one of the long standing wishes of our people using taxis or cabs in the country especially in Honiara and Gizo. For years many cab operators are working without this instrument. They only charge according to kilometers or just a flat rate. Many other countries overseas and even in the region have used metres in their cabs/taxis for years. But not for Solomon Islands. Many local customers who have been to overseas experienced the benefit of having such instrument in the cabs. So many times there are drivers which overcharged people for just a short distance. Or sometimes there are customers who showed dishonesty by paying less fare for the distance and load. So its not fair in most cases. Having a taxi metre will allow both the customers and the driver to see the charges on the metre screen as soon as the cab takes off. This would allow a fair service to both parties.

This current Honiara City Council should be commended for the announcement with the plans to start using it next year. Come 2012, the country hopes to see most of the cabs/taxis in the city with new metres. Good work City Council and please do fulfill it.  Solomon Star.

PWD to have equal rights Post Courier 3/10/2011    
PEOPLE with disabilities, the illiterate and ethnic and linguistic minorities, will now have equal rights and opportunities to vote in the upcoming 2012 National Elections, election officials have announced. These groups, which also includes the women, are normally traditionally marginalised, will now have access to all electoral processes – for example – the PNGEC will set up separate polling booths for women and programs are now in place and some being prepared to allow for these disadvantaged groups to be assisted and given a fair and equal opportunity as the normal and able people.Trainers told journalists that the PNGEC is doing everything to ensure that groups traditionally marginalised, example, the disabled and ethnic/political minority have access to all electoral processes. These four groups that are disadvantaged include: women, people with disabilities, ethnic and linguistic minorities; and illiterate voters. [So the women in PNG are considered PWD….ed]

Farm workers return The National -3rd,October 2011

NINE Papua New Guinean men returned home from Australia last Friday after being the first pilot team to take part in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Scheme. Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations Martin Aini welcomed the team at Jackson Airport last Friday.
The team had worked in Robinvale, Victoria, on a 37,000ha almond farm. One of the participants, Adrian Sima, a Grade 12 school leaver from Ragiampun village in Markham Valley, Morobe, said although the experience was challenging it had been a successful time for them.
“Our trip and stint for the last three months has been a mind-changing experience for the nine of us. “Earning up to $800 to $900 as gross pay for simple village man like us was just too much but then after deductions to pay our  accommodation, visa and airfares to our employer Madec would then leave us with roughly an average of $350 to $400 a week. “That would be like a thousand kina a forthnight. Even though living in Australia is great, where the food is cheap, clothing and other items are very expensive.” “For those who are willing to follow the path that we have taken, my advice is to believe in yourself and keep working hard.

Chinese claim that racial tension is on the rise. http://asopa.typepad.com/ 6 Oct 2011

A CHINESE diplomat in Papua New Guinea says anti-Asia sentiment in provinces outside Port Moresby continues to spread, while security in the capital has been brought under control.

Xiaoliang Chao, political counsellor at the Chinese embassy in PNG, says Chinese store owners in the region fear more looting. The embassy has called on the PNG government to restore order and protect business owners. Catholic Archbishop for Mount Hagen, Dr Douglas Young, says the issue of foreign owned business in PNG has to be examined in light of the recent violence against Asian operated businesses. Dr Young says there has been a feeling within the ommunity that some overseas investors appear to find it easier than other long term residents when applying to be allowed to operate in PNG. He says this has fuelled resentment.

“People in Papua New Guinea who would like to run certain business but feel that they are shut out,” the archbishop said. Asian owned businesses have been looted with several people killed during the violence. There have been calls for greater restrictions on foreign-owned enterprises. Dr Young says there needs to be a thorough examination of how immigration grants visas and permission for overseas investors.

PNG Strives to Meet MDG (Millenial Development Goals).  4/10 2011 ww.pngblogs.com

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill told the United Nations General Assembly that PNG is still endeavouring to achieve the eight-point Global Millennium Development Goals. On some fronts it has done well but in other areas it has fallen behind. The important issue is that the MDG is now firmly on the national agenda and that is something that was not there three years ago.

But can the goals be really achieved?

That question can be answered only in how the government tackles the fundamental goal of the MDG, which is poverty reduction. The principle goal of the MDG is to half or rid the globe of poverty by 2015, now a mere four years away.

Is PNG rich or is it poor? Or is it both rich and poor? Are Papua New Guineans poverty stricken in the way of those in sub-Saharan countries or parts of Asia? Poverty is not merely the lack of food but a collection of many factors.

One definition might be the lack of that which is essential for the wholesome growth and well-being of the human person or of a community. The World Bank considers poverty on the basis of how much money is available to a person within one year. In its estimation, the average Papua New Guinean villager earns about K350 within a year which it judges to be well below the poverty line. By its ruler PNG is at the lower end of the poverty line.

But as we mentioned in this space yesterday Sir Michael Somare, when prime minister told Australian au­diences that nobody is hungry in PNG, that everybody has food. That also is true. Seen from one angle there is no poverty in PNG, from another there is abject poverty in PNG.

Papua New Guineans might not have cash – which is the measure of wealth the world over – but they each own (individually or as a group) mountains of tracts of land, the largest indicator of wealth anywhere on earth. Every Papua New Guinean can be self-sufficient in providing for his immediate basic needs if all his lands were worked or if those lands could easily be mobilised into cash. From that perspective, no Papua New Guinean is poor. Indeed, he is far richer than other people in most nations of the world.

Brain drain in health workforce leading to crisis.  http://asopa.typepad.com/

PAUL BARKER, director of the Papua New Guinea Institute of National Affairs, says successive governments over the last 20 years haven’t given the health sector the priority it deserves.

The Institute was responding to a World Bank report stating that within 10 years, 50% of the health sector workforce in PNG will have either retired or moved elsewhere.

A consultant for the World Bank, Ian Morris, said staffing in the health workforce is at crisis point.  He’s called for a whole of government approach to tackle issues such as training.

Saying the sector had largely been ignored by politicians, Mr Barker said “with inadequate support for human resource capacity we have been going backwards.” He said there had been a brain drain of PNG medical staff heading to Australia and elsewhere. “So that’s an added challenge,” he said Mr Barker says in rural areas medical staff numbers are low and many nurses and midwives are in their late fifties or early sixties.

Mental health, a problem in PNG
 PNG DN 11.10.2011  

SUBSTANCE abuse has been identified as the major cause of mental illness in PNG.
The World Health Organisation identified these substances are the drug marijuana and the potent illicit home brewed alcohols.
WHO health specialist and psychiatrict Dr Priscilla Nad said the majority of patients she has observed were between the ages of 10 and 29 years of age.
 The causes of mental health disorders are multifactorial and non-specific to PNG but it is reported much mental health problems occur as a result of co-existing substance abuse or misuse which is common in younger people of school age.
Dr Nad was relating to observations by this paper that there are increasingly more people with mental disorder on PNG streets. 
“Yes this is compounded by marijuana and home brew abuse or addiction with young population,” she said.
According to her situational analysis with data collected from various divisions of the health department points to a grave situation in the country that needs urgent address.
“There is an increasing mental disorder in the country with minimal or no treatment available in most provinces, scarce human resources and drug procurement and supply chain not functioning for the delivery of psychotropics to rural areas.” 
Mental health services has deteriorated over the past decade evidenced by high attrition of mental health care workers and closure of psychosocial rehabilitation facilities at both Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centre and at Laloki psychiatric Hospital.

Landowner rights to courts to be restored The National -14th October, 2011

THE government will restore the rights of landowners to challenge in court any decisions on projects they feel could be detrimental to the environment.
To facilitate this, the National Executive Council recently agreed to repeal the Environment (Amendment) Act 2010 which had denied them this right.
Environment and Conservation Minister Thompson Harokaqveh said this week that he will be seeking an amendment to the current legislation in Parliament next month to correct an “unnecessary and undesirable” section of the Environment Act. He said that contrary to advice from the Environment and Conservation Department, the previous government last year had amended the law to deny landowners rights to take their grievances to the courts. Harokaqveh said the department had now advised the O’Neill-led government that the amendment must be repealed because it is unconstitutional.

Funding shortfall but no cut to medical services says CMC http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/201110/s3343058.htm   Updated October 19, 2011

In Papua New Guinea, the Church Medical Council says there is no likelihood it will end its health services because of a lack of funding. The Council runs the majority of PNG’s nursing colleges and provides health services in rural and urban areas. Concerns have been raised that the government is classifying the church-run hospitals as health centres which receive less funding.

Health services worsening, accounts inquiry told The National, 26th October 2011

PUBLIC health services have deteriorated over the years with lack of essential medical equipment, deteriorating infrastructure and lack of funding. This was revealed yesterday during the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the health status of the Nonga Base Hospital in East New Britain and the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, Morobe.
It was revealed that health facilities, equipment and supplies were deteriorating and needed immediate maintenance while many needed replacements. It was also revealed that the funding from the government were not enough to cater for the increasing number of patients.
Provincial health administrators also revealed that major hospitals faced overcrowding and many patients had to sleep on the floors because there were no beds. It was also revealed that manpower was lacking to effectively deliver services to the people even with the limited and outdated medical equipment and facilities, and the limited specialist doctors the hospitals have.
The public accounts committee was receiving reports of the health status but, due to the sudden death of a senior health official, the inquiry was deferred to next month.

Negligence claim sour [re attack on Catholic mission] Post Courier26/10/2011
THE Enga Provincial Government (EPG), Police Department and the State (defendants) have been saved from paying out a claim of over K7.6 million to the Catholic Diocese in Wabag.
This follows the National Court’s decision on Monday to dismiss the claim after finding, amongst other reasons, that the Catholic Diocese Wabag Board of Trustees (plaintiff) could not prove that the defendants were liable or owed a duty of care to the plaintiff for the destruction of properties on the diocese’ Pina Mission Station in Wapenamanda. Acting judge Justice Royale Thompson, in her decision, stated that the plaintiff could not expect the defendants to pay for destruction of community assets which they did not cause.  The plaintiff took the defendants to court for alleged negligence, claiming that the defendants failed to protect the mission station during a tribal fight in the area by not providing ‘adequate security’ to the said mission station.
Properties at Pina were destroyed as a result of a tribal warfare between the Ambulin and Wapukin tribes in 2008.

Villagers make peace Post Courier 26/10/2011

AFTER years of living in exile, the much populated Tinjipak, Yuripak, Mumund and Las Wert villages in the Upper Mariant Local Level Government (LLG) area of Kandep District in Enga province finally made peace early this month. It was through a peace mediation program ran by the Catholic Church known as the Divine Mercy spearheaded by a local priest Fr Aaron Sakan of Mariant Catholic parish in the Kandep area. According to locals, the only Government services at Yuripak Primary School and Tinjipak Health Centre were now at deplorable stage, needing urgent maintenance to serve the population. However, the peace ceremony was organised by the church between the Siki and Sambe tribes at Mumund village which is located at the Southern end of Kandep District bordering Southern Highlands Province. The fight between the two tribes started in 2009 which resulted in 29 deaths and people from both warring tribes took refuge in other neighboring villages for almost three years. On October 8, Fr Sakan, organised a peace ceremony for the warring tribes, after months of intense awareness between both warring tribes. Both tribes humbled themselves through the reconciliation ceremony and vowed to rebuild their communities by way of bring ing back peace and normalcy. Fr Sakan took the chance to organise the peace ceremony when the Divine Mercy program went into all the communities within the Mariant Station.

Vatican note on economy the first ripple of a southern wave N. Catholic Reporter

Reaction to Monday’s note from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, titled “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Political Authority,” expresses a clear rejection of “neo-liberal” economic policies and an equally clear endorsement of a “true world political authority” to regulate a globalized economy, one not dominated by major powers such as the United States.  Critics, dismayed by the note’s content, rather predictably have challenged its Vatican standing. Whatever you make of it, does the note seem to reflect important currents in Catholic social and political thought anywhere in the world? The answer is yes, and it happens to be where two-thirds of the Catholics on the planet today live: the southern hemisphere, also known as the developing world.

It’s fitting that the Vatican official responsible for the document is an African, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, because it articulates key elements of what almost might be called a “southern consensus.” One way of sizing up the note’s significance, therefore, is as an indication that the demographic transition long under way in Catholicism, with the center of gravity shifting from north to south, is being felt in Rome.

To be specific, Southern bishops, priests, religious and laity often are:

  • Skeptical of free-market capitalism and unregulated globalization;
  • Wary about the global influence of the United States;
  • Pro-United Nations and pro-global governance;
  • In favor of a robust role for the state in the economy.

A few examples flesh out that picture.

In a 127-page report issued in 2004, the Catholic bishops of Asia declared that “neoliberal economic globalization” destroys Asian families and is the primary cause of poverty on the continent. In June 2005, a group of Catholic bishops from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Somalia and Djibouti declared, “We are particularly horrified by the ravages of unbridled capitalism, which has taken away and stifled local ownership of economic initiatives and is leading to a dangerous gap between the rich few and the poor majority.” This is not the dying echo of warmed-over European socialism. For better or worse, it’s the first ripple of a southern wave.

Survey shows 28,000 job vacancies in public sector The National, 27th October 2011

THERE are more than 28,000 job vacancies in the public sector in PNG, a survey shows.
This figure was released yesterday at the Holiday Inn, in Port Moresby, at the start of a two-day consultation workshop conducted by the Office of Higher Education and Department National Planning and Monitoring to discuss the Papua New Guinea Labour Market Assessment report 2010. The report said in 2010, there were 28,844 vacancies with state agencies excluding health, education and the disciplined forces recording 12,950 funded vacancies or 45% of the total vacancies. The education sector had 11,726 funded vacancies or 41% of the total vacancies with the actual number of teachers on post in 2010 being 43,326.
The health sector recorded 1,366 funded vacancies.

Exorbitant rentals affect nationals  Post Courier 27/10/2011
The high cost of accommodation has left many average and minimum wage income-earners barely ‘scraping’ through to their next pay packet, the situation more severe for those with families. In fact for urban PNG, entire families are resorting to renting rooms in houses and sharing a common kitchen, ablution and laundry area with other tenants in the same situation.
An example of this is John and his partner Cheryl (not their real names) who are renting a room in a four-bedroom house with their two small children aged three and two, in one of Port Moresby’s notorious suburbs ‘with floor space that barely accommodates for a queen size mattress that they all sleep on, a miniature table and just enough floor space for clothes, provided they are stacked neatly in a pile. The cost of catering for their children’s needs coupled with the cost of K300 rental is a stark reality to the cost of accommodation that has seen dramatic increase in the past three years as opposed to the slow and gradual increase in the past 10 years with marked gradual increases to rent fees.
The situation is not any better for single men or women as is the case with Rachel Kewe, who is renting a room at Rainbow for K600 a fortnight and shares the same basic accommodation with other single women. “I believe the Real Estate Prices are so crazy because not many people can afford that amount, the cheapest cost for a room is going for K400 plus per week for single women and with the money that I earn, it’s hardly enough to sustain me till the next fortnight,” she said. Although ICCC Commissioner & CEO Thomas Abe was not available to make comment, the Commission has released a report about the PNG Housing and Real Estate Industry Review released on the 20th of January, 2010 highlighting all issues surrounding Real Estate and Building including a first draft in the report about the “Code of Conduct for the Real Estate Industry in PNG.”

Unwanted PMIZ people left homeless after police burn homes   http://pngexposed.com October 20, 2011

More than a hundred people living within the area identified for the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang are now homeless after their houses were burnt to the ground yesterday by police and members of a security company. More than 50 houses were torched with the assistance of  members of the Madang based Savolon Security  company.  The policemen arrived in three 10-seater Landcruisers and began physically and verbally assaulting the men, women and children. “My two girls were scared and tried to run away but the police swore at them and forced them to go into the house and pack our things,” one women said.

Another elderly  woman fell when  police hurried her into the house to remove her possessions. Several people also said police and security company people initially tried to force them to burn their own houses but they refused.  The eviction party also brought with them a front loader  to demolish the houses. The driver had his face covered with a shirt to hide his identity.

B’ville’s economy recovering: Survey Post Courier  Thursday 06th October, 2011   

THERE are about two kilograms of gold smelted in Buka, a week costing $114,000 (K268,000) and about 16,000 tonnes of cocoa shipped out of Bougainville, a preliminary survey has found.

And Bougainville’s “green gold” the betelnut industry is also providing economic means for many families in the region together with other basic fiscal activities such as cocoa, copra and small scale business activities.

The preliminary findings from a research undertaken by the National Research Institute and the University of New South Wales with help from the Australian Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government indicates there are lot more economic activities happening in Bougainville now but with minimum data/record keeping from the ABG. Professor Satish Chand from the University of New South Wales yesterday presented an overview, “It is the first evidence of economic recovery following the window of peace provided through an internationally sponsored peacekeeping operation that ended the decade long conflict,” Chand presented. In his findings, Professor Chand concluded that:

* Per capita income for urban Bougainville = K3,863 at 2010 prices (or K783 at 1983 prices).

* Large regional disparities in rates of and prospects for economic growth – policy implications.

* Trade is building bridges between communities that were fractured by the conflict – policy implications.

* Broad based growth creates a constituency for peace – who are the entrepreneurs in post-conflict Bougainville.

* The six-year window of peace provided room for the community to be drawn into the economy;

* Trade between communities is growing;

* Investment into permanent housing signals perceptions of sustained peace;

* The economic interdependencies between communities previously in conflict is rising;

* Peace founded on (broad-based) prosperity has hope; and

* Impact of the reopening of mine.

Villager: Foreign aid spoiling our people The National – Tuesday 11th October, 2011

A SOUTH Waghi community leader says Papua New Guinea should cut back on foreign aid and become more independent.
Andaku said this last week after sponsoring a community sports competition in the Minj area of what will become the Jiwaka province.
He contributed K2,000 to the competition and gave K1,000 each to the Tambang and Kambia community schools.
Andaku said leaders should shoulder the blame for the lack
of development.
He said instead they were thinking of themselves, “enjoying lives of luxury and forgetting about delivering impact developments to the people that gave the mandate to them”.
Andaku urged the people not to become too dependent on the government to deliver services to them because that was a waste of time.
Andaku said the people must change their attitude and learn to become self-reliant

Health Dept launches hotline The National-Tuesday, 25th October 2011

THE Health Ministry has launched a hotline which people can use to register health-related complaints in the country. The Telikom numbers are 343 3006 3007 and Digicel number is 7377 4707 They are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Health Minister Jamie Maxtone-Graham said the hotline was to allow the public to send text messages regarding health issues such as drug shortage, deteriorating health facilities, health workers’ absenteeism, misuse and abuse of facilities.  “I want the people to be my ears and my eyes so they report what they experience and observe in their respective areas by sending text messages of their complaints.”

Statistics of PNG’s plane crashes    Post Courier 20/10/2010
PAPUA New Guinea had 116 aircraft accidents, with 51 fatalities since January 1, 2000. This includes last week’s tragic Airlines PNG Dash 8 crash in Madang that left 28 dead and four survivors. That was from the Aviation Safety Network- through Flight Safety Foundation statistics on aircraft accidents in PNG since 2000. Last week’s Madang crash was the worst with 28 deaths followed by another PNG Airlines aircraft DHC-6 Twin Otter 300, which crashed in 2009 at Kokoda that saw 13 people killed.
The other aircraft accidents listed on the Aviation Safety Network are a North Coast Aviation owned Islander which crashed in April, 2000, at Bapi Airport that left four dead; an Islands Airways owned Islander, crashed in December, 2002, near Teptep that left eight dead; an Airlines PNG Twin Otter crashed in July, 2004, near Ononge leaving two people killed; a MAF owned Twin Otter crashed in February, 2005, near Wobegon two killed; an Airlink owned Bandeirante crashed in March, 2007, near Kandrian killing two; Airlines PNG owned Twin Otter crashed in August, 2009, near Kokoda killing 13; Trans Air owned Cessna crashed August, 2010, at Misima Airport, killing four; and the recent Airlines PNG Dash 8 in Madang with 28 killed.
Attempts to talk to the newly established Accidents Investigation Commission about the investigations that they had completed since 2008 were unsuccessful because their technical staff were at the crash site in Madang.

Heroes of Madang’s plane rescue ops  The National -Thursday, October 20th

POLICE are often criticised by the public and the media for their unprofessionalism. They are mostly accused of abusing the law. But, when the  Airlines PNG dash 8 crashed at Marakum village outside Madang, they were the first government officers to be at the site hoping to save at least a life. On mv Carrie, a boat owned and operated by Ramu NiCo, the officers were deployed on Oct 13 and successfully transported the four survivors – a passenger, flight attendant and two pilots. They braved the darkness and the waves of Raicoast.
On Oct 14, Madang police combined forces with Madang medical team to retrieve the remains of the 28 passengers who were burnt beyond recognition. Under the hot sun and humid environment with the atmosphere still reeking of the smell of burning metals and human bodies, the police and medical officers, and locals, collected and brought back the bodies of the deceased. The extra effort policemen and women showed to rescue people must be appreciated.

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