Social Concerns Notes – December 2012

[There have been some excellent articles relevant to Social Concerns in recent times, but it is not possible to include them in full within the limits of this monthly blog. Those with internet access might access an excellent article by Jo Chandler: Muddy Waters http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/up-the-fly-without-a-paddle/523/

I will include edited versions of four other articles in the first pages of this month’s Social Concerns notes.  The first is by a Papua New Guinean writer and scholar Andrew Anton Mako.  The second, by a Papua New Guinean woman Serina Sesingian, the third by veteran PNG politician Bart Philemon and the fourth from NRI on the economic situation.  I think these articles are worth reading and and reflecting upon as we start into a new year – ed.]

Bad governance and politics and PNG’s lost decade

By Andrew Anton Mako on April 12, 2012

http://devpolicy.org/bad-governance-and-politics-and-pngs-lost-decade/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=39ca1ecc22-Devpolicy_Blog_Digest_June7_1_2012&utm_medium=email

In the last 10 years, PNG has experienced unprecedented, high economic growth. However, that decade can be seen as a “wasted decade” of missed opportunities for the resource-rich country. There is little to show on the ground in terms of tangible development. Most major towns of the country have faced dramatic fall and deterioration of public infrastructure and government services. For example, Madang which was once affectionately called “beautiful” is now dirty and is witnessing a rise in criminal activity. One can only imagine what the situation is like in the rural areas where more than 80 percent of the country’s population lives. Public services and infrastructure are collapsing, and the rural population is being affected the most. PNG’s Human Development Index (HDI) continues to fall – it was positioned 153 out of 187 countries in 2011 by the UNDP. Corruption remains a huge development hurdle for PNG, and in 2011 PNG was ranked 154 out of 182 by Transparency International.

I am from a very remote village deep in the Highlands of PNG. In the last fifteen years, the single health center, the primary school which I attended as a boy, an airstrip that brings supplies to the village, and agricultural extension services have all closed down, and shrubs are now growing on a new road which was built in the late 1990s to connect my village to the nearest town. The 10,000 plus people in that part of the country are literally struggling each day. That is the grim situation of most parts of rural PNG.

On International Women’s Day this year at ANU, Dame Carol Kidu spoke about one aspect of PNG’s decade-long record economic growth and the opportunities the country has missed to improve the lives of the people – the deterioration of the national health system broadly, and  the appalling state of maternal health and child mortality in particular in rural PNG. A key cause of this, as Dame Carol pointed out, is the lack of effective leadership and management at all levels of government – local, provincial and national.

At a public lecture organized by ANU’s National Security College in March 2012 titled ‘Papua New Guinea: Where to Now?‘ three experts on PNG affirmed that political issues, especially the struggle among political leaders and their cohorts for power in government has had a direct and negative impact on PNG’s socio-economic conditions. This mismatch between PNG’s record economic growth and the fall in governance and basic public services are symptoms of the so-called “resource curse” or the “paradox of plenty”.

Because people in rural areas see that they have been neglected by their elected leaders and that basic services do not reach them through the normal process, their attitude towards the government and its public service machinery have dramatically changed. To most, the government is now a cash-cow to milk. This could explain why people who live along the Highlands Highway continue to claim huge sums of compensation from the government before they allow it to fix the highway after a landslide, for example. This is also part of the reason why people continue to vote along their kinship ties rather than along political party lines.

This shift in the mindset of the people is being compounded by the increase in resource projects in the country. As the government seems to have failed its own people in providing basic services, the people, especially the landowners from the resource projects, see the resource projects, and the compensations and royalties they provide as a quick and easy way out of poverty and to catch up with the rest of the country. However, without financial literacy and proper cash-management skills, most go on a spending spree on goods such as flashy vehicles. Although there is now a long history of such improper use of resource funds by landowners the lesson has not been learned. The government, especially at the provincial and the national levels, seems to care little of such issues, as they are pre-occupied with the “competition” to be in government and control the huge resource rents (the excess mineral revenues, in particular) the country earns. Indeed, there has not been any major economic policy or reform enacted in the last ten years to turn the country’s fortunes into tangible development which could improve the country’s low HDI and poor governance and improve the lives of the common people in rural areas.

If history and what is currently happening in PNG’s politics is any indication of the future, I doubt that this will change in the next twenty or thirty years. Many people, including myself, were hoping the recent change in government would at least start to turn things around. However, observing the events which have unfolded since the change in government makes it clear that PNG continues to go around in a political circle. It seems that the country will not break out of this circle until after the next election at the earliest, and perhaps not even in the next decade unless there are fundamental political reforms. The resource rents will increase when the LNG project starts production, and it will continue to undermine effective governance as greedy politicians compete for power and control over the rents. Unless there is a radical change in the political landscape, things will not change at all for the better. …

Development will also require a radical shift in the mindset of the people. Voter-education is crucial so that people start to vote along party lines instead of voting their village chiefs or their “in-laws”, who will return their favour when they are in parliament. These would be radical departures from the status quo, but ones that would have lasting positive impacts on politics, governance and the socio-economic development of PNG.

Andrew Anton Mako is a postgraduate economics student at the ANU Crawford School. Prior to that, he worked at PNG’s National Research Institute, and at the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat.

 Social challenges in PNG

By Serena Sasingian on October 4, 2012

http://devpolicy.org/social-challenges-in-png/

For thousands of years my people lived in harmony with the environment and each other. There were strong social structures that held the community together. A river, a mountain, dense forests or plains of grassland isolated tribes. This mean that unique communities evolved, each with their own rich customs, traditions and languages. It is from this background that our first generation of nation builders emerged. These were people, like Bart Philemon and Rabbie Namaliu, had to walk for hours to get an education, had to deal with the imposition of a foreign language and embrace values that were different to those of their cultural background.

I can only imagine the challenges that generation went through. A new generation is emerging, the generation of their children (like myself) who have grown up with less confusion, better quality education and technology, like the internet and social media. Sadly this experience accounts for less than 15 percent of our total population. The rest continue to rely on subsistence farming for their livelihood. For them, life has not changed greatly since independence, but we are seeing an erosion of customary social structures and the systems that supported communities for thousands of years.

37 years after independence PNG is still developing as a nation. You will notice I say “developing as a nation” and not “developing nation” to avoid the negative connotations associated with this. I consider growth and development of a nation to be like a child that is eventually fits the clothes they are wearing. We were given democracy, you and I know that democracies work on the premise that there is an educated, engaged and informed population able to elect parliamentarians capable of producing laws and policies that serve the interest of the people. In PNG we have a long way to go before we see that happen. Much of the population are uneducated and they vote according to “big man culture”.

Social indicators show that the incidence of poverty in PNG is increasing and that in recent decades educational outcomes have been falling. Our HDI value for 2011 was 0.466 — in the low human development category — positioning us at 153 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2011, our HDI value increased from 0.313 to 0.466, an increase of 49.0 per cent or an average annual increase of about 1.3 per cent. This still places us at the bottom 20 percent of countries worldwide, and is a major development challenge for our future as the development of our people is key to seeing progress achieved.

Youth are a critical component when we talk about development because PNG has a very young population: 40 percent are under the age of 15. Unfortunately they are entering adulthood amid a range of health and social issues. As Professor Ross Hynes of the University of PNG has pointed out, the socio-cultural setting in which young people operate displays multi-layered value systems including: traditional- customary; Christian; good governance; opportunistic-exploitative; sorcery; and warrior values. Good personal and community decision-making is often compromised by this complexity.

Many young people do not have a vision for their lives. They live surrounded by violence, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, purposelessness and idleness. A significant factor in the creation and sustainability of positive communities is to give our young people a sense of purpose. We need to be enabling them to realise their potential and their responsibility to use their gifts, talents, passions and dreams to serve the world. The two most important factors on the social development agenda to ensure a vibrant and dynamic population of active citizens are education and health.

Education

According to statistics from the PNG National Statistical Office, over one third of school aged youths have not received any form of formal education, and females are worse off than males. The Department of Education tells us that approximately 80,000 young people leave the school system each year. The formal labor force has been able to absorb less than 10,000. What then becomes of the rest of this vital resource?

With the introduction of the government’s free education policy to ensure that all people receive their basic human right to an education, one must raise the question: is it free education that we are looking for or better quality education that is needed? … It is not only access to education that must be given consideration but important components of the curriculum and pedagogy. Individuals can both acquire and employ skills, which will reproduce society, or they can accumulate the skills needed to transform society. We can no longer reproduce the values and structures that have positioned our people on the lowest rankings of governance and other human development indicators.

Health

While there a number of issues to discuss which are pertinent to health, one that is very close to my heart is maternal mortality. How can the beauty of giving birth to life be mired in the reality of so many women dying in the process? PNG’s maternal mortality rates are some of the highest in the region. According to a health demographic survey, there has been a more than two-fold increase in PNG’s mortality rate from 370 to more than 730 per 100,000 in the past 10 years. Poor maintenance of health facilities has affected the ability to attract and maintain staff and provide high-quality and safe care.

Conclusion

… Without active and engaged citizens issues of corruption begin to erode service delivery and impede progress in lifting the standard of living for all Papua New Guineans.

Serena Sasingian is the Executive Director of The Voice, a youth development organisation based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. This is an edited version of a presentation Ms Sasingian delivered at Devpolicy’s 2012 Pacific Update at the ANU on September 6, 2012

PNG 37 years after Independence: the question of leadership

By Bart Philemon on November 9, 2012

http://devpolicy.org/png-37-years-after-independence-the-question-of-leadership/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=c3b68fdbc8-Devpolicy_Blog_Digest_June7_1_2012&utm_medium=email

PNG’s founding fathers searched internationally and domestically, in the oracles of our ancestors and in the chronicles of the established nations to determine a way forward for the nation that they were prepared to give their all for. They wanted the citizens of PNG to be holistically strong, equal and to participate in the nation’s development. They wanted them to be proud and patriotic in their national identity, environmentally conscious and independent, respectful, appreciative and to adopt PNG ways and incorporate them into modern ways. That vision was incorporated into PNG’s constitution, the legal framework of the new nation that was born 37 years ago in 1975.

37 years on, how has the nation of PNG developed in light of the vision of her founding fathers?

Education. The O’Neill/Namah government has recently introduced free education from elementary school to grade 12. However, classrooms and teacher accommodation are either rundown or of an insufficient quantity. Access to basic supplies and utilities are non-existent and many facilities are remote and too expensive to service. Free enrollment will place additional demands on these facilities as children progress through grades. And, because of the lack of basic services such as accommodation in remote areas, the trend of teachers avoiding, refusing, or deserting remote areas, rural schools and the public education sector in favour of more lucrative jobs in urban centres will continue. The capacity building in higher educational, technical and vocational schools to compliment an increased demand for output is simply not there yet. While Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) projects promises jobs, they are mostly for top graduates who constitute a mere 20-30 percent of those seeking work. What will other job seekers do in a saturated market where there is up to a 60 percent unemployment rate?

Health. The government has earned the public’s accolades for enacting free public healthcare but the trend over the past ten years has been to close down aid posts due to a lack of medicine and orderlies. Delivery of medicines is often delayed, making them out of date and useless, and continues to be an administrative and logistical challenge. International pushes on HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness and immunisation programs for tetanus and smallpox steal the spotlight from silent,widespread killers like TB, malaria and pneumonia.

Transport. In air transport, the closure of a number of air strips as well as safety concerns surrounding access to functional air strips, combined with the number of third level airlines operating in PNG, means that access to much of our hinterland is closing up.

In sea transport, even though 15 out of 20 provinces are maritime provinces, most of our jetties and wharves are deteriorating and in need of repair. Government trawlers, once the pride of these provinces and synonymous with the presence and service of government, are just memories. Their replacement with motorised dingies and coastal shipping services lacking adequate regulatory oversight have been fatal for seafarers. In land transport, PNG still struggles to maintain 10,000 km of national highways. 17,000 km are provincial roads. Funds distributed to provinces are used to build new roads at the cost of maintaining those that already exist.

Public utilities. PNG is held to ransom by debt-ridden and incapacitated state-owned enterprises caught between survival and political priorities while attempting to provide electrical, water, broadcasting, works and telecommunication services. State-owned companies like Telecom PNG Limited, PNG Power Limited and the National Broadcasting Corporation are performing far below their capacity, leaving district capitals ineffectively.

These snapshots are enough to cause our founding fathers to turn in their graves. During the 20 years that I have spent in parliament, serving 12 years in opposition and 8 years in government, I have come to the conclusion that the solution to PNG’s problems rests squarely on the type, character, experience and the professional capabilities of our leaders. PNG needs good leadership to extricate itself from the damning paradox of being a poor but resource rich country.

Lessons from PNG’s budget trends over the last decade

By Stephen Howes and Andrew A. Mako on November 12, 2012

http://devpolicy.org/lessons-from-pngs-budget-trends-over-the-last-decade-2/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=c3b68fdbc8-Devpolicy_Blog_Digest_June7_1_2012&utm_medium=email

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. PNG has experienced massive revenue growth over the past decade. How has it made use of that revenue, and what lessons can be learned from those choices? In nominal terms, national revenue nearly tripled to an estimated K10.2 billion in 2012 from K3.6 billion in 2003. Adjusting for inflation, revenue increased by about 75 percent. Aid did little more than keep pace with inflation. This large increase in revenue led both to improved public finances (including a fall in public debt and an improvement in fiscal balance) and also a significant increase in public expenditure, mainly post-2007. Adjusting for inflation, total expenditure increased by less than 5 percent between 2003 and 2007. By 2012, however, total expenditure was almost double its 2003 level (a 94 percent increase), even after accounting for inflation.

Government spending is increasingly in the development rather than the recurrent budget. Recurrent budget as a share of total expenditure fell from two-thirds or more in the early 2000s to about half by 2012. Unlike ten years ago, the development budget is now largely financed by the Government of PNG rather than by donors. Trust funds were used in the middle of the decade to mop up a surge in revenue and direct it to various projects, but this is widely viewed as not having resulted in productive spending.

One way to summarise the experience of the last ten years is to observe that the total increase in revenue over this period, compared to what PNG would have seen if revenue had stayed at its 2003 level, has been K32 billion. Where has that that K32 billion gone? One-quarter (K8 billion) was needed just to keep pace with inflation. After adjusting for inflation, just over half (K17 billion) was used for additional development budget and trust fund projects. K2 billion was used to improve the fiscal position, and less than K5 billion was used to meet recurrent needs.

These trends have resulted in a number of positive developments in PNG. Compared to ten years ago, the national government has almost twice as much revenue (after inflation). It also has twice as much choice in how to spend each Kina because the share of salaries, interest and aid (all areas over which the government has no or very limited discretion) has halved. Importantly, spending in priority areas of national development, such as health, education and roads maintenance, has risen sharply.

Negative points. Expenditure levels did not kept up with population growth prior to the last decade, and even now are only back to the per capita levels of expenditure seen at Independence. All areas of public expenditure have increased – there is no sign of a shift in focus to priority areas. And, despite increases in spending to date, there are still massive funding gaps in critical areas. For example, to fully achieve targets in education and maintain priority national roads, an extra K1 billion and K1.4 billion, respectively, is needed annually (according to the partnership agreements signed between PNG and Australia). Filling these gaps largely requires increases in recurrent funding, whereas it is the development budget which has been increasing rapidly to date. To add to the challenge, revenue growth in the next few years may be slow due to subdued global economic conditions, the maturing of current mines and oil fields, and delayed revenue from new minerals projects due to tax arrangements.

There are challenges ahead. The key funding gaps – education, law and order, health, roads maintenance – are in the recurrent budget, so there needs to be a shift in the focus of public spending away from the development budget to give more priority to recurrent spending. More funding should be allocated for the maintenance of existing public infrastructure, for example, rather than building new roads or other assets.

Outlaw polygamy

The National, Tuesday 11th December, 2012

Highlands Governor Julie Soso plans to introduce a bill to outlaw polygamy in the country next year.
Soso, the country’s first female governor, said custom once allowed a tribal leader to marry more than one woman.
“But nowadays, any man can have more than one wife and that is creating a problem in our society,” she said in a statement.
“Polygamous marriages are not conducive to women making their own decisions. It is an outdated practice,” she said.
“Young girls are dropping out of school at an early age and they are getting married to a married man and becoming the second or third wife. Soso said poverty was driving some girls into polygamous marriages in PNG.
 Meanwhile, a member of Catholic Professional PNG Paul Harricknen also joined the move to outlaw polygamy, saying it was unchristian and against United Nations’ Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. He said the convention provided for women rights to be respected and any form of relationship that was of that nature was against women’s right to liberty.
“It’s been long overdue and Soso is right.

Polygamy not wrong, says father of five

The National, Friday 14th December, 2012

A FATHER of five who has two wives says there is nothing wrong with polygamy because it helps take care of women who could not otherwise support themselves.
John Gane, from Hela, has challenged Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso, who recently revealed her plan to move a motion in parliament to outlaw polygamy, instead promote the legalisation of prostitution.
 Gane said if Soso wanted to outlaw polygamy, she should first try to legalise prostitution as an income-generating avenue for unmarried women and girls who had no one to look after them.
 “That should be one condition if polygamy is to be outlawed. Another would be for government to put all the citizens on pension,” Gane said.
Gane said such a law could result in poor women and girls suffering because they lacked financial, material and security support.
 Gane said he never thought of getting married until 1997 when he met a woman who became his first wife.
 He said the woman had been in a “slavery” situation and staying with her aunt.
 “She was living in poverty when I rescued her,” he said.
 Gane said his second wife was in similar situation when he met her in a kai bar in Port Moresby in 2008.
 He bought some food for her and her sister who looked famished.
 “While they were eating, she told me her story. I asked her if I could marry her and she agreed,” Gane said.
 He said the woman’s parents and relatives did not agree with her marrying him because he was old and had grey hair.
 Gane said she told her parents that men his age looked after their wives properly so she married him.

Girls opting for wealthy men ‘promote polygamy’

The National, Monday 17th December, 2012

YOUNG girls preferring wealthy men are promoting polygamy in PNG, a youth leader in Goroka town, Eastern Highlands, says.
 Mike John, from Genoka settlement, blamed young women who dropped out of school and found themselves facing a bleak future.
“These young girls leave their school boyfriends and go for wealthy men with material wealth, especially money that they can easily access to sustain their livelihood,” John said.
 He said most of the men were married with grown-up children but went for young girls and offered money, houses and other material wealth.

Girls forced to marry for money

The National, Wednesday 12th December, 2012

MANY under-aged girls are forced by their parents into marrying older men in the LNG project areas for the greed of money such as bride price payments and to appease landowners, says a church leader.
 The practice is tantamount to child abuse as some of the girls have yet to reach child-bearing age, according to United church pastor Samuel Kusa. 
“The PNG LNG is driving people crazy to sell their daughters to older men who would die soon, leaving the girls and children behind,” Kusa claimed.
 “Some of them are getting married to men who have more than six or seven wives and they are just like daughters to their husbands,” Kusa said

Vunapope sees increase in teenage pregnancies

The National, Friday 28th of December, 2012

SAINT Mary’s Vunapope Hospital in East New Britain recorded a significant increase in teenage pregnancy this year.
While the hospital saw a steep increase in the number of births until Christmas Day, there was concern for an increasing number of teenage mothers, aged between 14 and 19 years. 
The hospital’s maternity ward officer-in-charge Maria Posanek, even without a breakdown of the hospital’s statistics, said there was a significant increase in teenage pregnancies with a lot of new mothers being students.
 Posanek said it was important for teenagers to realise that parenting came with big responsibilities.

680,000 children illiterate

Post Courier, 11 Jan, 2012

ABOUT 680,000 children do not go to school in Papua New Guinea, according to former Lae MP Bart Philemon. 
He says this means that 50 per cent of school-age children stand no chance of being able to read or write in order to effectively contribute to nation-building.
 This also means that 2-3 million Papua New Guineans out of a population of more than seven million are illiterate. Mr Philemon says that four million of the population is between 7-21 years of age (school age), according to the 2011-2012 National Population Census report. The statistics say that more than half a million of the school-age children are not in classrooms throughout PNG.

PMGH short on doctors and nurses

Post Courier, 11 Dec, 2012

THE Port Moresby General Hospital is down on manpower by 300 nurses and 60 doctors to cater for the pressing needs, hospital board chairman Sir George Constantinou said yesterday.
 Sir George said the hospital is in the process of recruiting foreign doctors and nurses on a trial basis to fill the shortfall in medical and nursing staff.
 Chief Executive Officer Sam Vegogo said Minister Malabag had already made an undertaking to take this matter up as a matter of urgency, including talking to the executives of the Nurses and Doctors Association to seek their understanding on the urgent issue of lack of human resource in the health sector.
 “There will be major reforms in the health sector to ensure the people feel the health services right up to their doorsteps,” Mr Malabag said.
“I will be talking with relevant government agencies and unions that we are running short of manpower at all the hospitals throughout the country. “If we are short, lets go and recruit whether domestic or internationally to meet this shortfall. Our people’s lives are at stake and we cannot be pussy-footing around,”

Women seek change

The National, Tuesday 11th December, 2012

HUNDREDS of women from the Yamka tribe, Mt Hagen, Western Highlands, gathered last Saturday to fight for change and bring development to communities by launching their association. 
The Kumbaun Ambnga Numan Tenta Association (Kumbaun women in one mind association) was formed to equip women as development partners to work with the government, non-government organisations and donor agencies to fight corruption, bring change and development into communities.

 “It is time we, the mothers, move forward and find the treasure for our children,” association president Martha Gibson said. 
“We have been treated as the weaker vessels and told only to follow orders. But this is our time to stand, fight for our right and our households, community, province and the country.”
 “The association has the vision to educate and encourage women to lead and make bold decisions from the village to the national level.”
 Yamka councillor Charles Kenken praised the women for creating history when they were figuring out their purpose in life. 
Kenken said he was happy to move along with such an association.

Death Penalty

http://ncronline.org/node/40231

As of October 2012 more than two-thirds of nations on earth have eliminated capital punishment either by law or in practice. 58 nations still have the death penalty on the books (including Papua New Guinea), though the number in which executions are actually carried out is smaller. In 2011, executions were performed in 20 nations.

In 2011, there were an estimated 5,000 people executed around the world, of whom roughly 4,000 were put to death in China. The United States was in fifth place worldwide in 2011 in the number of people it put to death, with 43. At the moment, 3,189 people are on America’s death rows.

Four core arguments against the death penalty surface repeatedly:

  • It’s morally corrosive. Mario Marazziti of the Sant’Egidio community in Rome argues that “when the state kills in the name of the entire community, it lowers the community to the level of the murder.”
  • It doesn’t deter crime or keep society safer. George Kain, police commissioner in Ridgefield, Conn., says that if he thought the death penalty kept police and correctional officers from harm, he’d be all for it. Instead, he said, research shows it doesn’t.
  • It’s applied in a disproportionate manner to minorities and the poor, thereby encapsulating the prejudices of a society. For instance, Marazziti cited an exhaustive study of every execution in the United States for the crime of murder up to 1989. Out of 15,978 executions, only 30 involved a white person sentenced to die for killing a black person.
  • It’s a definitive and irrevocable penalty applied by a fallible legal system that can and does make mistakes.

HIV drugs not reaching many areas in PNG

Post Courier, 3 December 2012

Christine Dee, President of the Western Highland Women’s HIV/AIDS Positive Network said that the continued negligence of people living with HIV by the nation’s health systems was unacceptable.
 “ART’s should be accessible to all those who need them, rural, urban, all over the country,” she said.
 In the last 18 months PNG has faced national shortages and stock-outs of HIV/AIDS medication on four occasions, the effects of which were felt throughout the country.
 UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Stuart Watson said that these stock-outs may have led to a significant increase in HIV/AIDS related illness, treatment failure, and even possibly deaths. “ART stock-out’s, if not urgently and sustainably addressed, will lead to the continued growth of HIV infections and unnecessary decline in health of people living with HIV. The current system has allowed this to happen and must be prevented from ever happening again.” he said.

85% denied banking services

The National, Monday 03rd December, 2012

AN estimated 85% or five million of the seven million people in PNG do not have access to banks or any other financial institutions, according to Bank of PNG.
 The bank released some statistics in Lae at the weekend and Treasurer Don Polye and BPNG Governor Loi Bakani were concerned over the alarming figures.
 They attributed it to the high percentage of Papua New Guineans living below poverty line.
 While both called for greater inclusive participation in the financial sector as the way ahead, Polye advocated for a radical change in attitudes towards managing personal finances.
 Polye said the government’s priority was to create an inclusive, yet sustainable economy that would generate wealth for all Papua New Guineans using the small to medium enterprises concept (SMEs).

Midwives get K147 million aid

Post Courier, 5 Dec 2012

THE Australian government has committed $A66 million (K147 million) to fund 1400 scholarships for Papua New Guinean midwives and nurses.
 Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Bob Carr announced the funding yesterday during a visit to the Mt Hagen general hospital in the Western Highlands province.
 Accompanied by his PNG counterpart Rimbink Pato, Australia’s top diplomat said PNG’s high maternal and child mortality rates compelled the Australian government to act. 
“This fund would help to combat the high maternity deaths in PNG. Every mother in PNG has the right to live healthy. But lack of better rural health services and unskilled midwives and nurses result in mothers and women dying during and after pregnancy. Geographic difficulty is also a contributing factor,” said Mr Carr.
PNG-based medical and nursing schools would be the main beneficiaries of this funding, which would enable them to graduate 450 community health workers, 450 nurses and 500 midwives by 2015.

SIL expands for deaf


Post Courier 6 December, 2012.

Imagine a life in which a child never hears a sound or . . . a word. Many deaf children in remote villages of PNG grow up without learning any words, sometimes not even knowing their names. Children with hearing loss may be labelled as unteachable and are often not sent to school.
“This misunderstanding has caused deaf people to be marginalised or excluded from the society, which is absolutely unnecessary. Sign language users are not mentally disabled; the only difference is that they just use their hands and eyes to communicate instead of using their voices and ears,” says Nathalie S. Juhonewe. 
Nathalie, who is deaf, came from Sweden as a botanical researcher. An estimated three percent of any rural community may be deaf. Thus, over 210,000 deaf individuals may be living in PNG. 
Nathalie and her deaf Papua New Guinean husband, Foreting, also want to help meet the deaf community’s spiritual needs. One of the most frequent questions asked of Nathalie is: “Please, ‘you who can sign our language’, can you tell us who is God and why are people going to His house every week?”
Summer Institute of Linguistics Global Sign Languages Team (SIL GLST) was formed to support sign language translators as they work in language development and Bible translation for the deaf communities all over the world. Nathalie is a Sign Language Survey Specialist and is also a Consultant-in-Training for SIL GLST here in Papua New Guinea. They are working as consultants for Callan Services, which runs almost all of PNG’s deaf schools, assisting them in the creation of this sign language training book.

TIPNG, partners launch project to support democracy

The National, 6th December, 2012

TRANSPARENCY International PNG, in partnership with the European Union, yesterday launched the “Open Parliament Project” in its continuing fight against corruption in the country.
 The project agreement between TIPNG, the Speaker’s Office and the EU has for the first time come up with the initiative to support the democracy and policies of the parliament in order to bring sustainable development to the country.
 TIPNG executive director Emily Taule said the project was a way of promoting openness so people could have access to parliament information.
 TIPNG project advocacy and education division’s Simon Jenkins said the activities would give MPs an opportunity to publicity.
  “We will collect information on official activities of MPs and put in a database on a website, link database to phone network, prepare annual report on parliament and put the information in publications,” he said.
 
The MP performance report (1) will include:
 Membership on committees;
 Portfolios assigned;
 Questions asked in parliament;
 Days MPs in attendance;
 Voting records; and
 Public statements on TI value areas. 
MP performance report (2) will include:
 District support grant acquittals and reports;
 Declaration of  interests;
 Remuneration rates; and
 Overseas trips made or conferences attended.

Local industry feels pinch, sends SOS to govt

PNG Blogs.  December 17, 2012

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is upbeat about creating thousands of new jobs for Papua New Guineans in the coming years. He, according to the PNG’s private sector, seems think he has the right recipe to create more jobs for young Papua New Guineans leaving the school system. But the engine for growth—the private sector—is not so sure about the claim.

Top private sector chiefs say the lack of government action to protect the local industry is posing a serious threat to thousands of jobs now held by Papua New Guineans in the private sector. Furthermore, it is stopping the creation of many new jobs for young Papua New Guineans leaving school and preparing to enter the work force.

Certain industries in the manufacturing sector are now facing difficulty against an avalanche of imports which are being retailed at much cheaper prices in the PNG market. For example, Papua New Guinea’s largest soft drink manufacturer Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) has appealed to the government to help the local soft drink industry, which it says, is being seriously affected by the onslaught of imported soft drinks from Asia. CCA employs around 900 workers throughout PNG. The poultry industry, which directly employs around 4,000 people, is also feeling the effects of imports of Australian poultry products which are being retailed at much lower prices than the local product. PNG’s only sugar producer Ramu Agri-Industry which employs 4,000 Papua New Guineans is also facing stiff competition after the O’Neill Government decided to slash tariffs for imported sugar. Ramu Agri-Indusry says it lost 31.5 percent of sales since the government slashed import tariffs on foreign sugar.

PNG governments since 1995 have liberalised import tariffs, allowing imports into the country and being retailed at much cheaper rates than the local industry, which employs thousands of Papua new Guineans. Whilst allowing imports to flood the local market, PNG governments have made no improvements to help established local industry.

Officer: Child sex crimes kept secret

The National, 21st December, 2012

SENSITIVE child sex crimes involving underage girls marrying elderly men with the consent of parents is kept silent because of the huge benefits acquired by the girl’s family, a Salvation Army child protection officer said in Port Moresby yesterday.
 Gini Kevin, who works as coordinator of network for victims for family sexual violence and juvenile justice based at the Waigani court house, said although the problem was increasing in the country even though there were no reported cases.
 “In most instances the young girl and her family receive large sums of money … that’s why these cases are never reported to the courts or authorities.”

Couple welcome first child

Post Courier, 27 Dec. 2012

What an early Christmas present for a couple who have been married for 26 years and finally received a blessing they have been longing for.
Gregory Sumi, 49, a senior construction superviser with Oil Search Ltd and wife Catherine Sumi, both from South Bougainville, were blessed to welcome their first baby girl born on December 17, 2012.
 According to Gregory, he tied the knot with Catherine at Monoitu Catholic Mission, South Bougainville (Siwai) on an Easter Thursday in 1986.
 Since then they were hoping to be blessed with children and to build a healthy and happy family. 
Mr Sumi said they had been trying for for a child but lost hope along the way.
 “We were not sure if the problem is with my wife or me,” he said.
 Mr Sumi said he gave up hope along the way but his wife had faith all along and was confident that they would still be able to have children and so he had to hold on and keep the faith.
 “We went for medical check-ups but found that nothing was wrong with the both of us. We always prayed to God for a miracle to happen and hold on to each other having faith everything will be alright,” Mr Sumi said.
Eventually after 26 years my wife fell pregnant for the first time and gave birth to our lovely bundle of joy Mary Jessica Sumi at Flores Clinic & Diagnostic centre (LAE Town) at 12pm on Monday.
 Our princess is 2.5kg and was named by the catholic priest of Christ the king Parish (11 mile church).
 He said nothing can express how him and his wife are currently feeling to finally have their own flesh and blood, half the time staring in amazement at the child, studying her from head to toe. He said this is an encouragement to young couples and those that are married for years without a baby. They must not give up but hold on to each other and have faith that the good Lord will bless their marriage.

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