Social Concerns Notes – August 2016

Controversy as Tjandra company seeks monopoly over PNG rice  29 August, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s trade minister Richard Maru warned the government that its proposed rice policy could have a drastic impact on PNG in terms of its trade ties with Australia.

Mr Maru was responding to questions from Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat, who asked if a policy which will give a single company a monopoly will strain ties with Australia. PNG imports K700 million worth of rice annually and Australian company Trukai is the major importer. The government has recently decided to implement an import substitution policy and awarded a tender for a K4.8 billion project in Central Province to Naima Agroindustry, against competitors including Trukai. Naima’s principal is the colourful entrepreneur Djoko Tjandra and it wants a 20-year tax holiday and the imposition of an 80% duty on all rice that it does not import. This will hike the price of rice by 60% and lock Trukai and the other major suppliers out of the market.


TB in PNG: the impact on children

August 25, 2016

A new report released by ChildFund Australia draws much-needed attention to the impact of Papua New Guinea’s tuberculosis (TB) epidemic on children. The report, authored by journalist Jo Chandler, notes that 26 per cent of confirmed TB cases in PNG are in paediatric patients, but that this likely underrepresents the true burden of disease among young Papua New Guineans. Globally, children represent about ten per cent of TB cases.

Though it is well-established that PNG is in the grip of a serious TB epidemic, an important contribution this report makes is to highlight the fact that infants and young children are more vulnerable than adults to developing extrapulmonary TB (TB in parts of the body other than the lungs, also known as disseminated TB). Not only is this form of TB more difficult to diagnose, but it can result in profound physical and/or intellectual disability – conditions for which there is little formal social support in PNG. Even those children who make a full recovery often miss out on months or years of education while they undergo treatment.

The report also explores some of the reasons why children are susceptible to TB infection. Among them is the fact that TB case finding is largely a passive endeavour in PNG: rather than health workers actively going out to screen those who have been exposed to TB – including children and other family members and relatives who share a home with a confirmed TB patient – and providing preventive therapy where appropriate, most cases are only identified when patients present to health facilities. Distance from health facilities and the costs of seeking care may prolong the length of time that they are infectious (once on treatment patients are no longer infectious).

Addressing the TB epidemic will require substantial investment in PNG’s healthcare systems as well as across the broader social determinants of health, including nutrition, housing, and access to basic services. Given the current economic situation in PNG, including major cuts to health services, foreign donors will no doubt continue to play a significant role. Only AU$3.3m (K8m) has been released by the PNG government to respond to TB, and a loan request has reportedly been made to the World Bank (p.13). Australia has committed $60 million in aid for TB control in PNG since 2011 through to 2017; as of April this year, $29.2 of that had been spent. And in June, USAID announced a new package of support for diagnosing and treating multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in PNG. In addition to in-country health systems support, the ChildFund report also recommends investment in medical research and the development of TB vaccines and improved treatments, especially those targeted at children.

Childfund report see


Ministerial bribery attempt highlights forestry corruption

01 August 2016

WHEN Papua New Guinea Forestry Minister Douglas Tomuriesa last week confirmed an attempt to bribe him with “a bagful of money”, it once again brought to light the illegal exploitation of PNG’s forests by foreign interests. In this case, the Malaysian national who offered the bribe was deported but Tomuriesa admitted that many people, especially foreigners in the forestry industry, had tried to “entice” him in the past. But he said he had performed his ministerial duties “based on his ethical values and conscience”, adding that the main factor was his wife’s plea for him to live an honest life.

“This is the kind of stance I’m taking at Forestry and I wish to leave a legacy of a corruption- free office during my term,” Tomuriesa said, saying he was “cleaning up a mess in the office” including and the deportation of the foreign national who tried to bribe him.

In PNG, the Land Act facilitates much forest clearance in addition to much illegal logging. The Act was supposed to help customary landowners convert forested land into agriculture, in partnership with investors but logging companies, mainly from Malaysia and Australia, saw it as a potential bonanza.

According to a Greenpeace report, between 2003 and 2011 over five million hectares of land, mainly along the Papuan coast and the islands of New Britain and New Ireland, was leased under Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs). This equates to more than 11% of the country’s land area and over 16% of its accessible forests. Exports of logs grew by 20% in 2011 alone, mostly from within SABLs and mostly headed for China. Because of growing international concern over the improper leasing of customary land, the PNG government in early 2011 issued a moratorium on issuance of SABLs and ordered a commission of inquiry.  This inquiry made recommendations but left existing SABLs in place.

Unfortunately, the improper leasing of customary land — referred to by many in PNG as ‘land grabs’ — is still playing out.

According to a 2014 report from Chatham House in the United Kingdom, which monitors illegal logging, the findings of PNG’s commission of inquiry into the SABLs and associated logging showed that over 90% of them were illegal and that the process was entirely corrupt.


Sorcery killings have increased, says Kwa
Post Courier, August 04, 2016

SORCERY-related attacks and killings have increased since the Sorcery Act was repealed in 2013 according to Constitutional & Law Reform Commission secretary Dr Eric Kwa. He did not say by how much but said that it was not the repeal but the belief in sorcery that had fueled the increase in the past three years. He said that the evil of sorcery-related killings has now taken on an ugly form in the hiring of killers. “I can tell you that it’s taken on a very ugly form now, in the sense that, now they have got hired people. “You can hire them to target sorcerers and kill sorcerers, so you’ve got people on hire.

“That’s how extensive it has grown now. “We’ve got someone who has now placed on Facebook on how to kill a sorcerer and how to extract confessions,” Dr Kwa said. He said it was believed that the Sorcery Act should be removed and that sorcery-related killings be treated as assault or murder. “Unfortunately incidents of sorcery have actually increased since 2013. “Now we think that it’s not because of the repeal of the law but it’s because of the changing socio-cultural economic situation of the country,” Dr Kwa said. “There are a lot more other things that are happening. We think that the increase in the incidence of sorcery-related killings is attributed to so many other factors and not law alone.”


Contaminated water sources in PNG blamed for stunting and malnutrition in children
Post Courier, July 28, 2016

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia Children in the country are rated among the most stunted in the world in a report from WaterAid which cites a shortage of clean water and decent sanitation as one of the main reasons for the root cause, widespread malnutrition. PNG rates fourth on the international development charity’s list, while nearby Timor Leste is at the top. More than two in four of the child population there are considered to be suffering from restricted growth, and the knock-on effects on their physical, cognitive and emotional development. The chief executive of WaterAid Australia, Paul Nichols says while the general population might not make the connection between water quality, poor sanitation and child development, governments certainly should.


NRI releases report on its assessment on residential property market prices in Port Moresby
Post Courier, July 28, 2016

The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) has released its latest report today.

The Issues Paper 19, “Assessment of market prices for residential properties in Port Moresby: Do location and property type matter” presents a snapshot of residential property market trends in Port Moresby. The report examined the supply and prices of residential properties in Port Moresby and investigates whether property type and location influence the prices. The article revealed that more houses were available in areas where people with medium to high income live and housing and land prices were higher in and near the central business district than in other areas. It also highlighted that the construction phase of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project played an important role in driving housing prices up. The report recommended that in order to promote an efficient housing market, it is necessary to make customary land more accessible, reduce import duties on building materials, train more people in property development and support research on uses of local building materials.


Australia and PNG launch braille machines
Post Courier, July 29, 2016

The Australian Government today launched four braille machines with the National Department of Education (NDoE) in Port Moresby. This support will assist NDoE to emboss PNG teaching and learning material and examination papers that can be provided to blind and vision-impaired students.

The machines will help blind and vision-impaired students in PNG attend and remain at school by providing the department with the equipment it needs to develop the materials that blind and vision-impaired students need to learn.

The machines can also be used to print exam materials, which is particularly important for blind and vision-impaired students who are undertaking national exams to progress to further study.

Ms Edgecombe said the launch of the braille machines reflects how the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea are working together to make education more available to people with a range of disabilities. “Australia and Papua New Guinea recognise the importance of including people with disabilities in their development cooperation activities. Research shows that some 15 per cent of the world’s population have disabilities and that people with a disability are at greater risk of experiencing poverty.”  “We know that educating people with disabilities brings more knowledge and different perspectives to the decision-making table, whether it be in government, business or the local community. This leads to better-informed, more inclusive policies for promoting economic development,”  Ms Edgecombe said.


Nuns, inmates reconcile
Post Courier, August 02, 2016

PRISONERS at Bihute jail near Goroka have reconciled with Catholic nuns of the order of Sisters of Mercy Works. The reconciliation means that the sisters will resume their programs inside the jail. They were stopped at the beginning of the year after the nunnery was attacked and ransacked by ex-convicts and escapees from the jail. Yesterday’s events were organised by the jail commander Superintendent Simon Lakeng at the jail.

Sister of Mercy country director Maryanne Kolkia, who was brutally beaten during the holdup, told the prisoners that the services the nuns were providing in jails were charity works which the prisoners should appreciate and make use of. “We the Sisters of Mercy and other churches and non-governmental organisations are doing these work for you the prisoners to benefit from,” Sister Kolkia said. “We do not expect anything from you in return but the way several criminals are targeting us is a concern that needs to be addressed.”

The sisters said they will continue with their programs at Bihute which encompass FODE courses, adult literacy courses, sewing and many other programs for the benefit of the prisoners.

Superintendent Lakeng thanked the Sisters of Mercy for their faithfulness in assisting prisoners. He told the prisoners that due to financial constraints, many rehabilitation works in the prison are not offered.

“But I want you the prisoners to keep yourselves busy with the programs provided by the Sisters of Mercy and other organisations and respect these people who are spending their time and resources to help you,” Supt Lakeng said. The prisoners, both men and women, apologised to the Catholic sisters, adding that they will support and respect them. In April earlier this year, 12 fully armed men drove into the Sisters of Mercy compound in Goroka, brutally assaulted three sisters and stole personal items like laptops, mobile phones and cash money. One of the attackers had been caught after a police road block while the others are still on the run.


Rio Tinto’s billion-dollar mess: ‘unprincipled, shameful and evil’  22 August 2016

Extracts  Read the complete article here

THE gaping hole carved into mountains was at one point the world’s largest open-cut copper mine.

Right on Australia’s doorstep, it delivered riches beyond imagining and a mess big enough to tear a country apart. This controversial pit became the flashpoint for a bitter civil war in Papua New Guinea in the 1990s that cost as many as 20,000 lives. Now, 27 years after the war forced the closure of the Panguna mine on the island of Bougainville, resources giant Rio Tinto has finally made the decision to cut its losses and walk away. In a decision slammed as “remarkably unprincipled, shameful and evil”, the mining giant has also side-stepped demands for a billion-dollar clean up. Furious local leaders on Bougainville – struggling for cash and contemplating forming an independent nation – are threatening an international campaign to shame the company into making a contribution. But they also want Australia – as the former colonial power responsible for authorising the mine – to contribute to a special fund to repair rivers poisoned by toxic sludge and compensate the people who lost their homes. “It would be a big amount of money that would be required to restore as much as possible the damaged environment and relocated villages,” John Momis, president of Bougainville’s autonomous government, told Fairfax Media.

“Probably a billion dollars. Nobody really knows, but that would be about the amount of money required.” Rio Tinto has refused. Correspondence obtained by Fairfax shows the dual London-Melbourne listed giant insisting it has no responsibility for environmental or other consequences from the mine.

“We believe that [the company] was fully compliant will all regulatory requirements and applicable standards at the time,” Rio Tinto executive Joanne Farrell wrote to Dr Momis on August 6.

Dr Momis said Rio Tinto must take responsibility for the mess it left behind, and has challenged the company over its claims of corporate social responsibility. “They justify their position by saying they operated under PNG law, although everybody knows the people of Bougainville never accepted [that] PNG law was a just law,” the Bougainville president said. “When Rio walks away like this, the resource owners are left high and dry for no fault of their own. They are now going to be left with this hugely destroyed environment.” “It is a major disaster which the people of Bougainville do not deserve


Marriage laws to be amended
Post Courier, August 23, 2016

CHANGES to marriage laws are ready to be presented in Parliament, probably during the current session. On the eve of their presentations, the Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Matrimonial (Clauses) Bill 2015 were discussed at a child protection workshop in Port Moresby yesterday. These Bills when passed by Parliament will be vital for the implementation of Children Protection Law, or Lukautim Pikinini Law, because they correlate.

Religion, Youth and Community Development Secretary Anna Solomon told provincial welfare officers about the Child Protection law, and briefly explained that her department and stakeholders were not looking at the children alone but family as a whole and the issues that affect children. Currently, there is no definition of marriage applicable to both customary and non-customary marriages. Thus, a definition is required to ensure that all marriages regardless, meet certain basic requirements regarding consent and marriage age before they are legally valid. Proposed clauses 2A and 2B of Matrimonial (Clauses) Bill achieve this purpose. The changes also synchronised the age of a child (18 years) with the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015 that was passed by Parliament this year.

The proposed changes deal with minors who are being forced to marry before the age of 18. The penalty for the offender range from a fine of K10,000 to K20,000 and jail terms of five and seven years.

Ms Solomon noted that the civil registry will only recognise first customary marriages but will recognise children as those who have not yet turned 18 years old, that is, in the best interest of the child – that in itself is child protection.

The new laws also recognise the effort of the stay-home spouse – either man or woman – in caring of the household. “We are now recognising that service and have strengthened that in the best interest of our children,” Ms Solomon added. “Some of the custody considerations outlined are for courts to consider parental responsibility. Many of our women or spouses who are not working are left very vulnerable when there is a marriage breakup. And not only are they left vulnerable but are left with all other issues, they really have nowhere to go.” Under the proposed law, a spouse’s indirect contributions as home-maker to the economic stability and security of the family, including in particular the acquisition of the property, will be recognised. The court is required to take into account any financial and non-financial contribution made by a party to the marriage.


Malabag releases birth log

The National, August 24, 2016

A MERE 36 per cent of pregnant women delivered their babies in health facilities last year, according to Health Minister Michael Malabag. He said this yesterday when presenting the Department of Health 2015 Health Sector annual management report. Malabag revealed that:

  • 138, 442 out of an estimated 263,545 pregnant women (or 60 per cent) visited antenatal clinics; and,
  • 81,718 (36 per cent) of pregnant women delivered their babies in health facilities.

The figures represented 86 per cent of last year’s activity reports from the Health Department’s 2608 facilities countrywide. This was made up of 1860 aid posts, 530 health centres, 78 urban clinics, 11 district hospitals and 20 hospitals in the country, with churches partnering health to manage 47 per cent of the facilities.
“While this figure excludes Port Moresby General Hospital, more needs to be done to encourage mothers to come to health facilities to have a supervised delivery to prevent unnecessary death resulting from complications during childbirth,” Malabag said. “Despite our achievements in a number of reforms and programmes, we are still faced with challenges in the areas of maternal and child health, communicable and lifestyle diseases.”


PNG lawyer in new bid for Manus detainees
Post Courier, August 24,2016, 05:00 pm, Story Courtesy of RNZI


A Papua New Guinea lawyer Ben Lomai is expected to apply for the Supreme Court today to make a ‘summary judgment’ on the plight of the refugees sent by Australia on Manus. The court ruled in April that the Manus Island camp was illegal, but it is still running and the fate of the asylum seekers and the refugees remains unclear. Mr Lomai had been seeking rulings for several months asking the courts to order the closure of the camps and for the inmates to be taken to Australia. But the Supreme Court discharged his most recent application on Monday, saying there was no proper application before it containing the required question for clarity.

The Post Courier said that because there were also other proceedings before other courts dealing with the same issue, the court discharged part of Mr Lomai’s application. Mr Lomai now wants to obtain a summary judgment to be able to proceed with his bid to secure the release of the refugees and to win compensation for them for being held by Australia illegally. The court repeated its ruling that both the PNG and Australian governments are responsible for following the court order that the Manus Island detention centre must be closed.


John Momis brutally rebuts Peter O’Neill’s BCL share ploy

Post Courier, 25 August 2016

BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has given PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill a “final opportunity” to transfer the 17.4% equity in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) bequeathed to it by Rio Tinto to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). If this does not happen, Momis said, “the ABG must use other means to keep clear control of decisions on Panguna. “The ABG cannot allow your bad decisions to stand,”Momis said. “In particular, we will cancel BCL’s exploration licence under the Bougainville Mining Act [and] seek a new developer by inviting tenders using powers under our Mining Act.”  Momis said the cancellation of the licence are likely to make BCL shares almost worthless, including the 19.2% equity PNG has held in the company since 1972.

He said if Panguna re-opens, the national government could retain its equity involvement. “But if interference in ABG control of mining continues, we have no choice but to cancel the licence and completely end PNG involvement in Panguna.” Momis accused O’Neill of purporting to “know better than the ABG about Bougainville’s mining policy needs; you substitute your views for ours.” He pointed out that, under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, responsibility for Bougainville’s mining policy was transferred and that this now a matter solely for the ABG.

“We have given careful attention to mining policy,” he said. “We give landowners veto power over the grant of mining licences, giving them real and direct involvement in decision-making. “They must be satisfied with conditions and benefits before a project proceeds.” “A minority 17.4% BCL equity that you propose will not give them any control over decision-making,” he added. Dr Momis said the ABG believes O’Neill is making ill-informed decisions about a complex situation that he does not understand and which does not benefit landowners. “Bougainvilleans ask why you interfere in our mining policy,” he said. “Do you fear that ABG control of Panguna could provide the revenue needed for Bougainville independence? “Interfering in mining issues only causes deep anger in Bougainville. That is likely to cause increased support for independence.

“The only way you can now reduce support for independence is to work in cooperation with the ABG to make people see that autonomy really meets the needs of Bougainville. “Supporting our mining policy is an essential start. “That will not reduce landowner involvement in decisions about Panguna, or their sharing fairly in revenue, for the Bougainville Mining Act ensures their full involvement in both.”


Backfire: Panguna landowners refuse O’Neill’s offer of shares

PANGUNA mine-affected landowner associations and the Meekamui Government of Unity, meeting at Kuri village in Bougainville late last week, have refused to accept Peter O’Neill‘s transfer of Rio Tinto shares to them rather than to the Bougainville Government (ABG). O’Neill’s offer, made two weeks ago, was seen as a crude attempt to aggravate divisions between the ABG and groups with which its relationships have not always been smooth. But the move has backfired, instead drawing once dissident groups closer together and probably moving more Bougainvilleans to contemplate a future without Papua New Guinea. A referendum on independence is due to be held in the autonomous province before 2020. While “appreciating” the PNG government’s decision to transfer 17.4% of BCL shares to landowners, the assembled leaders requested O’Neill to transfer them to the ABG “to hold on behalf of all the people of Bougainville”.


Cervical cancer is avoidable: Hukula

The National August 25, 2016

Cervical cancer is preventable yet thousands of Papua New Guinean women succumb to it, often leaving behind their children and loved ones. Apart from the mainstream health services,  private clinics and non-government organisation efforts to fight the dreaded illness, a retired nurse has decided to dedicate her retired life to doing her part in a small way to save her fellow Papua New Guineans. “My greatest passion is to make sure women do not die from cervical cancer because it is the most preventable cancer of all cancers,,” says Sr Hellen Hukula, owner of the Well Women Clinic in Port Moresby.
That was the motivation that drove Hukula to start a women’s clinic after retiring from nursing.
After 30 years of serving as a nurse in  hospitals and health centres, the mother of six and grandmother of nine from Tuvi village in East Sepik is determined to see women access  information and service to prevent deaths from cervix cancer. Hukula had worked in the gynaecology section of the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) for 19 years, an experience that has continued to remain beneficial for womenfolk in this country. After seeing the need to do something away from routine, Hukula started the Well Women Clinic on July 11, 2011. The clinic conducts Pap smear tests, checks blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, treats sexually transmitted infections, does pregnancy tests, breast cancer checks, family planning ovulation and do referrals to PMGH. It is located at Waigani, just behind Anglicare.

In 2014, Hukula was offered a scholarship by the New Zealand government.
She underwent four weeks of intensive training on Pap smear testing competency skills in Auckland.
After the training, her confidence was boosted to keep doing what she had been doing.
“They taught me so many things, how to recognise the symptoms, how to recognise women with cervical cancer, read results and send them off – those kind of things.

PNG’s revenues collapse – and recovery is a long way off 26 August 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s revenue base has shrunken back to where it was a decade ago despite the economy having doubled in size in that time. The PNG Treasury’s 2016 mid-year outlook shows a collapse in revenue for a second consecutive year. Australian economist Stephen Howes, who is director of ANU’s Development Policy Centre, said a central reason for the reduction is a disappearance in taxes from the mining and petroleum sector. Dr Howes said that amid a general economic slowdown with a fall in global commodity prices, PNG is caught between old, declining resource projects and newer ones that are not generating tax revenue. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s one that is going to last for several years,”Howes said. “The new projects, like PNG LNG, are not going to generate a lot of tax for say another seven or eight years. “So PNG’s going to have to get used to coping with a much more revenue-constrained environment than it has been in the past,” he said.


Where to with betelnut? Beyond bans and spot fines

By Busa Jeremiah Wenogo on August 25, 2016

Where to with betelnut? Beyond bans and spot fines

Port Moresby residents are now warned not to chew betelnut in public places as the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) imposes a 500 Kina spot fine on chewing and spitting. A combination of the nut mixed with powder lime and mustard produces the infamous “colour red” that is now responsible for drawing ire from the public and now the hefty spot fine. The spot fine came into effect on 1 August 2016, just a couple of months ahead of the FIFA Under 20 World Cup to be staged in Port Moresby. It seems a trend is developing where the city commission toughens up on the sale and consumption of betelnut when a major event is about to take place in the city. We saw this last year when the city hosted the 2015 Pacific Games and a ban on betelnut sale in Port Moresby was introduced.

The betelnut ban forced people to resort to illegal means to earn income, often at the expense of poor farmers back in the villages, particularly along the Hiritano Highway of the Central Province. In Port Moresby the ban gave rise to a thriving “middleman” business, most of whom used the law to their advantage. The imposition of the K500 spot fine against chewers means that the war against betelnut will come to its complete cycle.

When the betelnut ban came into effect last year, a mother was run over by a vehicle while fleeing from the pursuing betelnut enforcers. The picture of her child sitting next to her lifeless body on the side of the road, captured on the front page of one daily newspaper, was heart-wrenching. Her death was tragic yet it heralded the beginning of the ugly, and I might add fatal, side of the ban. No one was immune to the ban, including the Motu Koitabu villages. The death of a Hanuabada man and several injuries sustained by the villagers are remnants of the harrowing impact of the ban, another tragic story. A few weeks ago a youth from Tari in Hela Province was shot dead by police when he was alleged to have smuggled betelnut bags into the city in his vehicle. Since then, his relative can be seen marching up and down the street in Erima with a wheelbarrow seeking donations from the public allegedly to repatriate the body back to the village, and a “laplap” placard demanding retribution from the government.

The commission itself needs to also make it clear whether it is imposing a “total ban” on the sale and consumption of betelnut, or only “restricting” its sale and consumption to designated areas within the city. In spite of the ban the betelnut trade is thriving in all parts of the city and at times in full view of the public, including the betelnut enforcers.


Carteret climate refugees seek home

Post Courier, August 11, 2016

At only 1.5 metres above sea level at their highest point, the Carteret Islands are some of the first to succumb to the rising ocean tides. ABC reported that the grassroots Tulele Peisa group, which means “sailing the waves on our own” in the local Halia language, is hoping to relocate more than half of the population by 2020. They have secured land for new homes on the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, to the east of mainland Papua New Guinea. Tulele Peisa formed in late 2006 after the Council of Elders on the islands decided to establish their own relocation program. The group’s chief executive, Ursula Rakova, says the encroaching tides on the islands have a major impact on people’s health. “We’re beginning to get more requests for people wanting to move because of the situation and the dire need for food,” she says. “People are not able to eat what they should be eating,”

The storm surges not only wash away houses, but also vegetable gardens, which are critical for the islanders’ survival. With no cash economy on the Carterets, the only source of food is what people are able to grow for themselves. Ms Rakova says the relocations are also vital to give more space to those who want to stay on the islands. “Giving justice to the elderly is the most important thing that Tulele Peisa can do. They elderly people do not want to move,” Rakova said

According to ABC reports the group initially secured 25 hectares of land from the Catholic Church — enough to resettle about 100 people from 10 families. The church has just made another 60 hectares of land available, where Ms Rakova says they’re hoping to relocate 25 more families. But the access to safe and secure land is only half the battle. “Building houses for the families to live in is our biggest hurdle at the moment,” she says. “We have to keep looking for funds to build homes before we can actually move islanders to mainland Bougainville.”


Raihu health center scale down staff

Post Courier, August 11, 2016

The Raihu district hospital in Aitape Sandaun Province which is the major referral hospital to Aitape-Lumi and Nuku districts has started scaling down of its staff due to insufficient funding. The district hospital is currently facing funding insufficiency from the outstanding grants from the National Christian Health Services Arm of the national department of Health in Port Moresby. According to Medical Superintendent and Chairman Dr Athanasius Kari since May this year the funding for the hospital operations and staff salary has not been given. Kari added that due the current situation he health service has exhausted all means of financing the hospital operations and staff salaries which the hospital has taken action to scale down on administration and clinical services. The hospital staff will continue to work to assist dying emergencies and referred dying emergencies including women for obstetric care only. Thus, other services including outpatient and clinics will be closed for an indefinite period until further notice. The Raihu district hospital board endorsed this decision to scale down services with the Diocese of Aitape administration to cope with the financial situation.


Budget cut hurts health services

The National, August 16, 2016

THE Government’s budget cut of nearly K50 million this year for church-run health services has affected the service. Madang provincial health director Marcus Kachau told The National yesterday that because of the budget cut, health workers’ salaries had not been paid. Kachau said health workers at Josephstaal Health Centre in Middle Ramu district had not received their pay since early this year. The health centre is operated by the Catholic Church. Kachau said he was still negotiating with the Health Department for the use of K90,000 from the province’s health budget to help Josephstaal health workers. They were still awaiting response from headquarters. The health centre caters for more than 10,000 people in the Middle Ramu district and remote inland parts of Bogia. Kachau said the Madang provincial government wanted to help the health workers, but the two warrants released this year did not have funding. “Warrants for the release of funds were received but they came without cash flow … “pepa nating, no money,” he said.


Bainings win SABL court battle
Post Courier, August 30,2016,

LANDOWNERS in East New Britain Province have won a landmark legal battle to retake their “hijacked” land from the controversial Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL). The people of Baining in Gazelle district had taken the State and developer to court over the SABL deal which has now been declared null and void by the National Court in Kokopo last Thursday.

THE proceedings before the court was for a judicial review of the decisions of the State and developer over the process of acquiring the customary lands for SABL, described and known as Baram-Gransait land over Portions 908C and 909C comprising 10,980 hectares and 23,556 hectares in the Inland Baining area.

The landowners sought judicial review alleging that the process of acquisition of customary land for Business and Agriculture Leases pursuant to Land Act 1996 were not followed, that there was no diligent and no meaningful consultation with landowners taken by Minister and Secretary for Lands and that the Minister had failed to comply with the statutory preconditions for acquisition of customary land by the State and for granting of lease for special agriculture and business purposes.

Justice Lenalia Selatial said in his 37-page decision that “the process was hijacked from appropriate landowners” as shown in evidence presented during the proceedings and breached the Land Act and the Constitution. He said the Minister can only grant SABLs when he is satisfied that reasonable inquiry has been carried out by officers of his department and the provincial lands office to establish that landowners agree for the land to be compulsorily acquired.

“I am not satisfied that the three-day meetings held at Malabonga High School community hall on September 1-3, 2010, met the requirements of meaningful consultation.” with landowners. “Those decisions cannot stand and having discussed the evidence by all parties and issues involved and the position in law, the court declares that decisions are null and void,” Justice Lenalia ruled.


Goroka University reconciliation: No other way but peace

13 August 2016

IT IS always a proud moment for peace advocates when they see peace being built and maintained in society. One such moment came for me when I had the opportunity to witness the peace and reconciliation ceremony between Papua New Guinea highlands students at the University of Goroka late last month. The master of ceremonies took the stage and took the microphone to make few announcements while the pastors’ fraternal and the choir sang. The event took place about four weeks after a serious fight among students.

The ceremony opened with a word of prayer and Bishop Francisco of the Catholic Diocese of Goroka gave a sermon on peace. He said peace was a gift from God and it must come from one’s own heart.

For three-quarters of the day various speakers then offered words of wisdom to enable the students to reconcile. When everyone finished speaking, the student leaders were called to come forward and pledge peace. The Chimbu and Eastern Highlands students apologised for what had happened while the upper highlands students accepted their apology and pledged everlasting peace on the university campus. They then proceeded to sign the peace treaty. Student leaders from each highlands province came forward to sign before the magistrate and police commander. They pledged to maintain peace at all times and were presented with a bible each by a senior pastor.

While the crowd was watched eagerly, the Chimbu student announced he would compensate the Western Highlands and Enga students K20,000 which he presented in an envelope.

The Eastern Highlands student leader presented another K20,000. The Western Highlands and Enga students humbly accepted the compensation and promised they would pay back after speaking to their parents and respective provincial and local level governments.


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