Social Concerns Notes – June 2012

Finally we have arrived at election time in Papua New Guinea. Some think that the elections are a solution to the grave political problems experienced in recent months.  Others are not so sure. However, the elections are due and it is good that they go ahead.  The majority of the population want a fair and safe election and a peaceful resolution to the political turmoil.  I’m sure you as readers will join with me in praying for that cause and in doing our part to be an answer to those prayers.    We start with a critical piece from the beginning of June 1, found on http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2012/06/truth-has-been-momentarily-suspended.html#more    from   http://ppngtokauttokstret.blogspot.com/

Truth has been momentarily suspended

PEOPLE ASK ME how the politicians can do this or that. “What does the law say about this and that?”

Before I answer I say, “The law doesn’t seem to matter any more…but I’ll just try tell you what it says…” Is the law relevant anymore?

We got people who make their own laws and amend and follow them as we go along. The true law, the Constitution, doesn’t matter to them anymore. They’re a law unto themselves.

I can explain the law till I’m blue in the face. But if it’s lost its authority to a group of whimsical men then what’s the use? And if we are content to say “let it go, it’s all good”, then why should anyone be subjected to the law in the future? It has no authority except the authority we give it.

There is no authority above us except a few rich men who are each elected by a tiny few thousand in some constituency, yet they claim to speak for the nation, as if they are all-knowing and omnipresent. They certainly believe they are all-powerful.  There is no law above them. Their will is law. Everything is permissible. Everything is prohibited. All at the same time. Everything is subjective: applied only when circumstances and popular demand, emotion and self-interest allow. Such is the scary reality when we lose ourselves to subjectivity, trading truth for preferences. Chaos and confusion are the order of things when the law is interpreted subjectively or completely ignored by people.

We all require rules or standards to keep order; to maintain coherence in society and in discourse. …During elections imagine if there weren’t rules on campaigning and electioneering. And for lawyers attending court…imagine no court rules. Chaos.

If we each define our own truth, if we define our own rules, if we define our own morality, we can never hope for a coherent society; let alone a society based on justice, fairness and equality. If anything, the events of the last few months since August last year prove that beyond doubt.

The popular vote is not an accurate measure of right and just. It never was. Truth cannot be voted in or out. It depends not on whether we believe it, like it or hate it. It just is.

You see if you and I start differing on the nature of truth itself we lose any basis on which we can argue any case. You cannot battle on two complete different arenas in completely different worlds. Such a war has no beginning and definitely no end. If justice is defined by the person who has the power, not having obtained that power justly, then justice itself loses meaning and authority. And when those who do have the power to interpret and declare justice, that power being bestowed justly, are not allowed the freedom to do so without fear, favour or intimidation, where else can we go to inform ourselves of what is right and what is wrong.

How can we establish justice if we reject the institutions and the documents that were mandated to guide us through those questions?

Our nation, despite daily life going on as normal, was brought to its knees in its politics and its jurisprudence, as justice and truth, righteousness, and the law, were redefined to suit warring parties.

As in any sport the fight is unfair when one team does not play by the rules. No matter how popular that team is, it is not entitled to win if it does not follow the rules.

Shall we restore the authority of the Constitution so that in future we can still aspire to create a law-abiding society? God knows we need such a society. God Bless Papua New Guinea.

Elections.

The 3435 candidates, 46 registered political parties, 4.8 million voters and more than seven million people of PNG must get behind the 9,000 strong Security Forces and the Electoral Commission to ensure a fair, safe and free Election 2012.

The current enrolment of eligible voters stood at 4,425,682 for the 22 provinces which included 111 electorates, 348 LLGs and 6425 wards.
There is an estimated 9938 polling places nation-wide and about 4647 polling teams comprising almost 14,000 personnel.

A total of 8278 regular, reserve and auxiliary police personnel, PNG Defence Force and Correctional Service members will be engaged for security operations for the 2012 National Elections.  Of this number, a total of 2000 security personnel will be deployed in the highlands in addition to police personnel already in the seven highlands provinces.

Sex – second biggest thing after politics in Highlands

Post Courier 21 June 2012

Sex has become the second biggest activity after politics in night time campaign gatherings in the Highlands.  The rise in sexual activities which involve young, married and elderly people have been triggered by the large amount of money floating around in campaign gatherings, dancing and cultural dances and singings and under cover of darkness.
The election fever has produced reports of widespread fights among married couples with many sustaining serious injuries. In one instance, a woman was murdered by her jealous husband.
The incident occurred in the Kerowagi District of Chimbu Province on the weekend when a married woman escaped from a campaign house with a man into the dark and had sex in nearby shrubs.  The suspecting husband caught up with the couple and killed the wife while her partner escaped naked into the night. In one night time campaign gathering in the Anglimp South Wahgi electorate, two women who left their young kids at home and attended the gathering were severely bashed up by their husbands in a single night.  Husbands caught with women in dances and singsings are given the same treatment with their ‘election partners’ by the wives.
It’s the same scenario all across the region in political gatherings, mainly during the dark hours.
The National AIDS Council, from past experiences, has issued a warning on the rise of HIV/AIDs during the election period. An International donor funded survey in the Enga Province after the last election indicated a massive increase in pregnancy following the election. Highlands Divisional Commander Teddy Tei yesterday said the whole issue on elections was about electing God-fearing, transparent and honest leaders and it was the people’s prerogative to make sure that such good leaders were elected. He appealed to the people to be responsible with the election and not to take the electing of leaders as a venue for family violence and other illegal activities, which he said was not associated with the National Elections.

On a mission

Post Courier 4 June

MORE than 500 Defence Force soldiers were deployed over the weekend to the Highlands region to help police conduct security and law and order operations for the 2012 election code named NATEL 2012 to ensure the people cast their votes without fear and intimidation. More than 1000 soldiers in a convoy of over 30 vehicles loaded with gear that they will need in this massive operation was warmly welcomed into the Highlands by residents who stood at roadsides along the Highlands Highway and waved them on.
“There are over 2000 security personnel deployed for the security operation in the Highlands. The focus will be on hot spots and firearms,” Assistant Police Commissioner for the Highlands division, Teddy Tei, told the Post Courier. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the deployment of the troops was the Government’s response to ensuring free, fair and safe elections are conducted in the Highlands. The contingent will team up with two Defence Force units and police mobile squads already deployed in Enga and Hela provinces.
Assistant Commissioner Teddy Tei said the Security Forces would make sure that there is security during the elections, adding part of their operation is to flush out illegal guns and maintain security presence in trouble  spots throughout the Highlands region.

Among the crowd, several youth were overhead saying: “You people feel happy and welcome them now but they’ll belt the shit out of you later.”

Arrest of Papua New Guinea Chief Justice disturbing

May 31, 2012 http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2012/05/arrest-of-papua-new-guinea-chief-justice-disturbing/ Press Release – New Zealand Law Society

The arrest of the Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea on charges of sedition is a disturbing development for anyone who believes that an independent judiciary is a requirement for any democracy, the New Zealand Law Society said today 31 May 2012

Arrest of Papua New Guinea Chief Justice disturbing development

The arrest of the Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea on charges of sedition is a disturbing development for anyone who believes that an independent judiciary is a requirement for any democracy, the New Zealand Law Society said today.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia was arrested six days ago by a group of police and soldiers who stormed the Supreme Court and subsequently charged Sir Salamo with sedition before he was released on bail. The arrest followed the Supreme Court’s decision that Sir Michael Somare should be reinstated as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.  “It is fundamental that courts are able to make decisions and to operate with total independence from pressure by anyone, including the government,” the President of the Law Society, Jonathan Temm, said today.

LJS launches pilot project to combat alcohol abuse 

Post Courier 1 June 2012
Rape, domestic violence, road accidents, school fights and loss of income are only a handful of the issues that arise with alcohol related abuse. A very special, pilot project to tackle this ongoing problem was launched yesterday at the Badili Police Station by the PNG Law and Justice Sector (LJS). The pilot project will be carried out in the Moresby South electorate and if successful will spread throughout Port Moresby and the country.
It is part of a larger project headed by the PNG LJS and major stakeholder SP Brewery and supported by the National Government that is also being run in other centres of the country.
Manager of the Alcohol Abuse Intervention Program Zachary Sitbam also told the Post-Courier that breathalyzers will also be introduced and the Badili Police will use them in public to pick out offenders behind the wheel (drivers). There are other pilot projects in other parts of the country such as the rehabilitation program run by the Port Moresby Catholic Archdiocese under Sr Theresa Aihi who holds a bachelor degree in Health Sciences.

Coalition pushes for bill to Protect family

The National, Tuesday 05th June, 2012

THE Coalition for Change PNG Inc is pushing for the government to pass a bill which will protect women and children from violence at home.
The coalition has been working on the Family Protection Bill since its inception four years ago.
The bill has now been endorsed by the attorney-general and the state solicitors and submitted to the national executive council.
Coalition chairlady Lady Winifred Kamit said the bill was a milestone achievement for the coalition because it would protect women and children affected by violence in their homes.
“We hope that in the near future this bill will become a law and provide protection to those who need it.
“The bill is gender-neutral,” Lady Winifred said.
It is also designed for men who are victims of violence.

‘Job creation will stop spread of HIV’

The National, Tues 05 June, 2012

CREATING employment for people living with HIV/AIDS is one way to stop the spread of the virus, Joe Egu said. Egu, who has the virus, said employment would give them a purpose in life and keep them occupied. He is from Chimbu province and is the founder of the non-governmental organisation called People Living with Higher Aims based in Madang.
He contracted the disease eight years ago. He lost his former wife and child to the virus.
But today, he is happily married with a son and wife who are both HIV-negative.
He said they work edwith the Modilon General Hospital to help people with the virus receive counselling. They also assist nurses and doctors treat HIV/AIDS patients.
Egu urged candidates contesting the general election to consider HIV/AIDS in their policies.
He said the shortage of antiretroviral treatment during the election period was a time bomb.
“This is the time when people are mobile and can easily contract the virus.
“Elections will come and go but HIV/AIDS will remain with you for the rest of your life,” he said.

Party aims to pay rural people fortnighly

The National, Weds 06th June 2012

THE People’s Party plans to put more than K2 billion from the national government’s annual budget back into the pockets of rural people if it leads the new government. Party leader Peter Ipatas said giving something back to the ordinary people annually would not affect the annual budget of the national government.
Ipatas said every individual over the age of 18 living at subsistence levels and not engaged in a formal fortnightly pay employment would get K30 to K40 every two weeks.
“The beneficiaries are to live in the rural villages – not urban migrants. They must also provide one day community service work per week. “These would be implemented by the ward councillors throughout the country who will keep proper records of persons living in villages and when individuals attend community work.” The party’s policy is known as “village service intensive scheme programme”.
Ipatas said the country’s population was 7.5 million and just 10 percent were engaged in formal employment while 80 percent of the other 90 unemployed lived in rual areas at subsistence levels. He said instead of putting monies from the resource boom into the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), trust accounts and other savings both local and foreign, it must be shared among the people. “The scheme is not to give monies away freely to the people but a form of appreciation from the government for the community service work they put in two days per fortnight,” Ipatas said.He said the rural population had contributed significantly towards the development of Papua New Guinea without any direct benefit apart basic public health,

Westpac opens no-fee account for PNG grassroot people

Post Courier 6 June 2012
WESTPAC Bank has celebrated the opening of its 50,000th Choice Basic Account last month.
The account was launched in August 2011 as part of the Westpac’s strategy to strengthen its retail offering and to bring banking to the millions of Papua New Guineans who do not have access to banks. The product has no monthly fee and customers can avoid paying transaction fees by using their Handycard at EFTPOS terminals and Westpac ATMs.
“Westpac developed the product for the ‘grass-roots’ customer, who had traditionally been left out of the banking system. To open an account, customers only need to have 50 points of identification. This means, Choice Basic customers don’t need a passport or birth certificate if they don’t have one. For example, a letter from their village magistrate, and some other form of ID, would be enough to identify them for this purpose,” said Adam Downie, Westpac’s Head of Retail Banking

BSP’s Kundu card makes banking easy

The National, Thursday June 21st, 2012

BANK South Pacific now has two Kundu Account choices for its retail customers.
BSP Kundu Account is a day-to-day transaction account for all personal customers in both the mass market and rural segments, and with the Kundu Account, everyday banking is easy and convenient. The Kundu Account is designed to suit a customer’s lifestyle, and it is their key to being able to access their money more simply and cheaply by using BSP’s extensive Eftpos and ATM network, including BSP Mobile Banking.
The Kundu Account now offers two options: Kundu Account Standard and Kundu Account Plus.
Kundu Account Standard is for customers who do not frequently transact on their Kundu Account or may not use their account every month.
This option will have no monthly account maintenance fee, no minimum balance held on the account and a different fee structure to the Kundu Plus Account.
The Kundu Account Plus is for customers who frequently transact on their Kundu Account.
This option will have a monthly maintenance fee of K3, a minimum balance of K20 held on the account and different fee structure to the Kundu Standard Account.
There are also optional features for both accounts such as joint account holders, account statement, visa debit Card (VDC), cheque book access, overdraft facility available and standing order.

B’ville NGO says more people want to leave Carteret Islands

The National, Wednesday 06th June 2012

TULELE Pasia, a non-governmental organisation in Bougainville says more people want to move out of the flood-prone Carteret Islands. The islands are regularly inundated by sea water, affecting the lives of the islanders. Tulele Pasia has for years been working to relocate families to Tinputz on the Bougainville mainland. So far six families had moved.
Spokesperson Ursula Rakova said their aim was to relocate 1,700 people by 2020 at four different sites. She said residents were now keen to leave the islands.
“Right now there are more people willing to sign up to move to mainland Bougainville because of the lack of food that can be grown,” she said.“The population is also increasing, the land is getting short and basically no available land suitable for growing a lot of food crops.” – RNL

Economic boom in H’lds

Post Courier 4 June 2012

The Highlands provinces are experiencing an economic surge as this year’s election gets into full swing.  Farmers, rental car operators, fuel service stations, store owners and the informal sector in general are reaping in big time. Farmers are having a field day, reaping in cash as the demand for pigs, chickens and garden produce surges with the flow of the election. The most notable commodity is the price of pigs which has more than doubled. It has lead to a massive increase in the price of store goods like lamb flaps and garden produce.  Only a year ago, the price of the biggest pig was K1000. That has surged astronomically up to over K4000 close to the main centres and slightly lower in the rural areas.  One farmer from Dei District in the Western Highlands Province sold three pigs and reaped K10 000 last week.  He would have made a total of K3000 had it been a year ago.  Hire car firms, vehicle owners and service station owners are also reaping in the benefits as many vehicles are needed to operate over 24 hour periods.
At the Mt Hagen market, the supply of kaukau is getting low with bags now selling close to K70 from K30 – K40 a couple of months ago. A pineapple which was sold at K2 less than a month ago has now doubled with its season now being over, is selling at K7.

Lone officer in Tapini for 14 years

The National, Friday 08th June 2012

TAPINI, the district capital of Goilala in Central province, has had just one policeman for the past 14 years, NCD-Central commander Francis Tokura said.
Tokura, who visited the remote mountainous area on Monday following a killing, said all the police officers posted in the area had left because services such as banking, post office and vehicles were not available.
Tokura said the lone officer, Sgt Rara Didei ,was without a gun and a vehicle for 14 years.
“He (Didei) walks for days to other parts of the district to attend to complaints,” Tokura said.
He said there were 10 houses built for police officers but seven had deteriorated and only three were suitable for occupation.
“I will bring this matter up with the headquarters so that we fix the houses and send more policemen there,” Tokura said.
He said the only existing services were the Catholic-operated Tapini High School and an aid post.
He said in order for law and order problems to be tackled effectively services such as banking, shops and vehicles must be operating so that police personnel posted to the province could live and work there.

Night Socials in Campaign Time

The National, Friday 01st June, 2012

THE Western Highlands provincial health authority is concerned about the idea of dancing and singing at campaign sites at night. The authority’s chief executive officer Dr James Kintwa said night activities promoted the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/Aids.
Dr Kintwa has urged candidates and their supporters to stop organising such activities which would encourage the spread of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and sexual assaults. He said cases of unplanned pregnancies were high during the 2007 election.
Dr Kintwa said that in 2007, the number of HIV/AIDS cases increased dramatically as a result of increased sexual activities.He urged candidates to instruct their campaign managers to stop organising these night gatherings because they created an opportunity for people to meet and engage in unprotected sex.

A Remarkable Achievement

EDITORIAL   The National, Friday 01st June, 2012

IN Jiwaka, we report today of a big drug and alcohol problem.
In neighbouring Western Highlands province, the Provincial Health Authority (WHPHA) is very concerned about night dancing and singing at campaign sites in the province.
In the nation’s capital, police are warning the public that anybody caught drinking in public places will have to pay a heftier fine than previously.
There are public forums being held throughout East New Britain and in the Western Highlands where candidates are being invited to talk about their policies.
Nationwide, the period of nominations and now the first week of campaigning has taken off, so far as we can tell, most peacefully. This is excellent news.
There appears to be an awakening in the majority of Papua New Guineans that wasn’t there before, or at least if there was, then it had not found expression as it has now.
Most impressive of all has been the calm and collected manner in which Papua New Guineans have gone about with their daily lives while a constitutional crisis flared for the better part of 10 months. The police force was divided, the judiciary has been split, and the defence force and the civil service have been confused as to who is actually in charge of the government.
In most places in the world, this is a call to arms and the trigger for revolutions and bloody take-overs. Not so in this nation of 800 tribes where loyalty to the tribe and region is strongest but which also seems to set a firm lid on one tribe exerting too much control or influence on the rest.
“The people have waited patiently while the institutions of our democracy struggled to find a solution to the crisis in which we found ourselves.
“In many countries of the world, the events that have occurred in our country in the past six months would have led to rioting, bloodshed, chaos … but the people of PNG have not taken to the streets.“They have not looted stores. They have not shot one another or roamed in gangs through our cities. “Blood is not flowing in the streets of Port Moresby, in the streets of Lae or Mt Hagen or Madang. “The people have shown the world what it is to be mature. We have shown the world what it is to be calm in the face of crisis. We have shown the world that there are civilised ways of dealing with crisis.”

LNG project at risk

Post Courier 31 May 2012
THE Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific island affairs Richard Marles – says that although the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) project represents a significant opportunity for PNG, one which has already yielded benefits for some in local jobs and a boosted economy, these gains are at risk of being undermined if local disenchantment and simmering social tensions ignite the powderkeg Highlands region. A research reported tabled by Mr Marles in Canberra on Monday which was sponsored by six partners – the PNG Church Partnership Program, Child Fund, Oxfam, the Melanesian Institute (a research and training body in Goroka), the University of Otago, and Jubilee Australia highlighted that, “despite its bountiful resources – PNG is an island of gold, floating in a sea of oil, surrounded by gas, so the ritual boast goes – in terms of exploitation the result over the years ‘’has at best been mixed, with few long-term benefits being passed on to the wider population’’, the authors wrote.
The reason PNG has struggled to capitalise on its natural abundance, and in some cases has ‘’suffered serious environmental and social harm in the wake of resources development’’, is due to a mixture of factors, foremost among them failures of governance – ‘’the absence of good institutions and sound economic policy’’ – and the fragility of vulnerable indigenous populations, many of whom struggle with the social fallout of the roller-coaster rush to modernity that comes in the wake of mining and logging operations.

The report argues that the key to the LNG project achieving its potential to deliver benefits to the community – without overwhelming social costs – requires the resources companies, the community and the government to ‘’accept and discharge wider responsibilities beyond the narrow remit of self-interest. ‘’The role of resource development projects such as the LNGP should not just be income generation,’’ the report argues, ‘’but the promotion of wider human development aspirations such as improved livelihoods, greater access to education, better nutrition and healthcare, surety against crime and physical violence, cultural and political freedoms and a feeling of participation in community life.’’

Gas Project Spends K4.3bil

The National, Thursday 31st May, 2012

THE PNG LNG project has spent more than K4.3 billion (US$2.1 billion) to date, according to its quarterly environmental and social report released this week. The report said to date, more than K880 million (US$424 million) had been spent with landowner companies (lancos) for all project-related activities. “This quarter, K195 million (US$94 million) was spent with lancos, representing an increase of 30% from the previous quarter,” the report said.
“The total in-country project-related spend to date is now over K4.3 billion.

YWCA needs financial help

Post Courier 31 May 2012
THE YOUNG Women’s Christian Association of Papua New Guinea has called on business houses for financial assistance. In a recent major fundraiser, the YWCA raised K45, 000 to meet the administrative and operational costs, urgent maintenance and repair work of its national office.
Part of the funds will go towards its Golden Jubilee hosting of its 50th anniversary.
In a meeting in Port Moresby yesterday, YWCA president Karen Hiave thanked business houses that assisted the recent event.
She said for the past 50 years, YWCA has contributed to nation building in terms of its valuable contributions of advocacy, capacity building and life skill programs implemented by the local associations and the national office YWCA movement.
Ms Haive said the YWCA has set out new direction and focus for service delivery in the country through its strategic framework 2012-2015.
This plan is developed in response to the focus of the national integrated development process in the country and the national government’s priority especially in the vision 2050.
The plan includes;  promoting women’s intergenerational leadership development;  Progress on human rights;

New anti-malarial is rolled out

Post Courier 29 May 2012

A NEW line of anti-malarial treatment was launched yesterday which replaces the current treatment regime that is no longer effective.
The drug, Mala-1, is a combination of artemether 20mg and lumefantrine 120 mg and is administered after a blood check reads positive to malaria test. On the average a person suffers three episodes of malaria in a year; this is evident in the approximately 1.7 million clinical malaria cases reported annually and 500-600 deaths annually in health facilities.
Malaria, being the third cause of morbidity, 1.7 million is 10 to 20 per cent of all health facilities admission and mortality rate of about 11-18 per cent of health facility deaths.

Fruit pickers praised for work in Australia

The National, Wednesday 30th May, 2012

TWO groups of seasonal workers sent to Australia in the past four months have performed “beyond expectation”, according to the Labour department.
The groups are part of the Pacific seasonal workers scheme.
The department said in a statement that the Penguin group comprised 12 men and 11 women recruited to pick and pack berries in Perth, Australia. The group completed the task well before the scheduled deadline and were moved to Tasmania to work there. The Tasmanian community is new to the scheme. The Darien group consists of four women, the youngest being 23 and the oldest 33. They traveled to Yalta in Victoria on a four-month contract to pick grapes.
They were later moved to the Robinvale Tree Minders where PNG’s  pioneer seasonal workers were located to help with pruning. The department is urging seasonal workers to Australia to maintain the high standard and continue the good working spirit.

Street children get support from priest

The National, Wednesday 30th May, 2012

THE sight of children collecting empty plastic containers to survive gives an insight into
Papua New Guinea society, a senior Catholic priest said. Lae Catholic diocese Vicar-General Fr Arnold Schmitt said yesterday the streets of Lae City had many children begging and collecting empty plastic containers to earn some money. Most children are from the settlements.
“Most of these kids come from dysfunctional families, where their dads or mums have left their family and have re-married. “Some of these kids have unemployed parents,” he added.
Fr Schmitt said the children were living on the streets because of poor and broken families, and often, because of uncaring parents.“Our traditional family social net is breaking and extended family are no longer caring for these kids.”
Schmitt said last week, two of his students were employed in a barber shop.

ANZ: Financial skills linked to well-being

The National, Thursday 7th June 2012

FINANCIAL skills are linked to overall wellbeing of individuals, according to a report released by ANZ yesterday. ANZ’s 2012 study into “MoneyMinded”, its flagship financial inclusion programme, showed that 98% of respondents in Fiji and Papua New Guinea felt better able to make ends meet and more comfortable about their future after going through the financial education programme.
The report entitled “The reach and impact of MoneyMinded in the Asia Pacific 2010-2011”, was undertaken by RMIT University and surveyed 171 MoneyMinded participants across Fiji, PNG and Australia and measured their financial management behaviour before and after completing the programme.
Key findings in Fiji and PNG were:

74% increased their monthly savings deposits and nearly all, 97%, reported a greater capacity to make ends meet;
66% of respondents now use budgeting tools to manage their finances;
78% reported being able to save on a regular basis;
Nearly all, 93% found that they were able to cut back on their spending as a result of the programme;
91% encouraged their children and family members to save money;
Life satisfaction increased for 51%;
There was a significant increase in the proportion of participants, 58%, who felt more confident about making financial decisions since doing the programme;
95% agreed or strongly agreed that since doing the programme they were better able to cope with unexpected expenses;
93% reported knowing more about where to get help with financial decision-making than they did before and all participants felt they were better able to deal with financial problems than they were before they completed the programme.

Staff Shortage at Kudjip Hospital
KUDJIP Nazarene Hospital in the Jiwaka Province is the only hospital that serves the bulk of the population in the province. The hospital has also Nazarene College of Nursing for trainee and graduate qualified students that go out in the field to join the health sector. This is one of the best hospitals in this part of the country, set up by the United States missionaries in 1950 when they first set foot in the Wahgi Valley.
The hospital sometimes faces problems but the administration does not publicise its problems, thus people do not hear of them. Currently, the hospital is facing shortage of staff but it is not speaking out but instead continues to operate with skeleton staff. Hospital staff say that the hospital has shortage of staff because many staff members have resigned and moved elsewhere due to low salary. Most have transferred to work with government hospitals and also the liquefied natural (LNG) gas project in Hela Province. The recent huge salary increase received by the nursing staff in government hospitals forced more than 35 nursing officers and community health workers from the Nazarene Hospital to tender their resignation and leave for better paying jobs. The hospital’s remaining staff are those who are sacrificing themselves because they see this as part of the church ministry. The hospital also increases the fees because it does not get any funding from the government and also it missed out on the free health care scheme.
The administration had continuously raised the alarm but it had fallen in deaf ears of the national government and even the Jiwaka Transitional Authority.
Recently Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Mr Maxtone-Graham came in Minj during the Jiwaka establishment day and committed K10, 000 for the hospital but it is still waiting to receive the funds.
Half of the country’s health facilities are run by the churches for which Kudjip is one. The hospital needs the patients’ fees so it charges fees which have been increased in response to high costs in goods and services.

CIMC urges Govt to listen to people on rice project

Post Courier 13 June 2012
THE Consultative Implementation Monitoring Committee (CIMC) has urged and encouraged the Government to consider the wider public and private sector views before any affirmative decision is made over this proposed Central Province rice project.
CIMC in responding to various news articles in both dailies said it is important to have wide public views so that tangible, probably small-medium scale rice development can be encouraged in PNG, and to assist the landowners of Kairuku in the Central Province (and elsewhere), to advance their own agricultural development, perhaps including rice, for their own best interest and possibly in partnership with outside investors.
In a statement released this week, CIMC noted during a conference with stakeholders on the project where certain aspect of the project need to be more scrutinised by public as many stakeholders raised serious issues pertaining to the project.Some of the issues raised in the conference recently as stated by CIMC are that while the proposed trading monopoly would be lucrative to the investor, most of the participants raised concerns as to whether:
the investor would realistically establish such a vast area of rice without an initial pilot project,
it would be feasible without major sustained protection, and
it could deliver the many promises the potential investor is making to the people of Central Province and Papua New Guinea as a whole.

Refugee camps lack govt services

The National, Monday 18th June, 2012

THERE is a great need to facilitate the integration of the 9,400 refugees in Papua New Guinea through the provision of documentation and facilitated access to naturalisation, the United Nations says. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees country representative Walpurga Englbrecht said during World Refugee Day celebrations last Saturday. This year’s theme was to raise awareness by demonstrating the dilemma refugees faced when subjected to persecution or caught in conflict.
She said often they had no choice in their different circumstances, but “we the free citizens such as Papua New Guineans do have a choice to help”.
Highlighting the status of the Papuan refugees in the country, she said while many of them had been in PNG for many years after crossing the border from Indonesia between 1984-1986, because of the general uprising there, they had not been integrated into local communities.
She said the government gave 6,000 hectares of land and called the East-Awin Relocation Camp after disbanding from 17 original temporary camps along the West Sepik and Western borders with Indonesia. Englbrecht said while provisions were made for food and tools for making gardens and building homes for the camp facility’s inhabitants, support for the longer term such as well maintained road links vital for income generation activities and access to goods and services were still lacking. She said such difficult conditions made it very difficult for the refugees to be self-sustaining. That was why it was important to facilitate their local integration as well as the provision of documentation and facilitated access to naturalisation.

Many of us cannot afford high real estate prices

The National, Monday 18th June, 2012

THE rental cost or owning a home in Port Moresby is far too high and beyond what many people can afford. As a result, the working class are now forced to live in settlements.
The exorbitant prices also result in squatter settlements mushrooming in and around the city.
I have been observing the real estate market in NCD and noted some important facts.
The weekly rental is K500 for a three-bedroom unit at 9-mile settlement and K750 for a three-bedroom high set house at Gerehu stage 5. However, the rental for accommodation within the city is between K1,500 and K5,000 a week. Similarly, a low-cost high set three-bedroom house at Gerehu stage 6 is selling for K300,000 and about K700,000 at North Waigani.
But high-cost structures and hou­ses in prime locations are unattainable for most people!
With this in mind, consider the salaries of most Papua New Gui­neans. The majority of employees in both private and public sectors earn between K300 and K1,000 in gross per fortnight.
Their net incomes are usually far less after taxes, superannuations and other deductions.
Well-paid jobs are always rare and few are managers or executives of organisations.
This simple data comparison reveals that the minimum rental accommodation price in the city is still much higher than the highest salary most employees earn!
This is a real issue and the next government should give it due priority.

Note: For an archive of earlier editions of Social Concerns Notes, you can visit the blog site  http://tokstret.com

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