Social Concerns Notes – April 2017

Cash Aid or Program Aid – A Delicate Balance – Sam Koim

http://www.pngblogs.com/2017/03/cash-aid-or-program-aid-delicate-balance.html?m=1

At the 25th Papua New Guinea–Australia Ministerial Forum held recently in Madang, the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) surprised the Australian Government Ministers in attendance by requesting the Australian Government to take a paradigm shift from its program and project based aid to direct budgetary support as was during early days of PNG’s statehood. Two reasons publicly given by the GoPNG for the request are that firstly, it is claimed that the Australian aid programs are running parallel to the GoPNG development agendas and secondly, it is perceived that a lot of middlemen are chewing up most of the funds that could otherwise be spent on tangible projects. It is understood such requests were made previously and Australia rejected it, but this time, the Australian Government had undertaken to consider it in an upcoming review on aid to PNG. Although the GoPNG denies the request is driven by the cash flow crises the country is facing, it is an open secret that the GoPNG is desperate for cash. The fruitless search for cash included a $US1 billion sovereign bond and a $US250m loan facility from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation through the Central Bank of Papua New Guinea.

[For the rest of this lengthy article, see the url above]

A budget and economic scorecard for the O’Neill government

Separating the Truth from the Lies by Kessy Sawang

An edited version of a speech she gave at the PNG National Party Convention.

I will start with the key indicator of fiscal management – the level of debt. From there I will then discuss the budget deficit and then touch upon the economy.   I’ll walk through what I call the headline issues but from this you will see that it has been an unprecedented scale of financial mismanagement, mistruths and a recklessness that almost seems to be a deliberate sabotaging of the national interest. This is a sad story of failure and the true costs are yet to be revealed. The adjustment required will be painful for our people.

As I said I have been selective in the topics I talk about today because of time constraints but the key message is one of a failed government that is driving our proud country to its knees. We see evidence of this already when this Government went cap in hand to the Australian Government to beg for budget support. This disgraceful begging was met with a stern rebuff from the Australian Government. This is a national embarrassment.

Let me start with this chart. What is shown is public debt for the years 2002 to 2016. The numbers on the vertical axis show the value of public debt in billions of Kina. I have separated the years with a red box. The years that appear within the red box are the years when Peter O’Neill has been the Prime Minister. What stands out clearly from the chart is that over the first nine years the level of public debt remained more or less steady. In fact the value at the end of 2002 was 8.4 billion Kina and up until 2011 it did not go higher than that level. So when O’Neill entered the office of the Prime Minister of PNG in 2011 he inherited a public debt level lower than that at 2002.

What is so clear if you look at this chart of public debt you can see that it has grown faster over O’Neill’s term than it did in the last term. On average, under O’Neill the level of debt has grown by 25% each year. This is an extraordinary growth and is unsustainable – in fact it has brought us closer to a major economic crisis.

[For the rest of this revealing article, see the url above.]

Paying compo not justice: Nili

March 31, 2017 The National

PAYING compensation, practised in many parts of the Highlands region, is a hindrance to the effective administration of justice in  communities, a senior police officer says. Senior Inspector Epenes Nili told a conference on sorcery-related violence in Wabag, Enga that there were laws in place to deal with compensation cases. Nili said it was used to maintain peace and order in the community, however, should not stop the prosecution of those who broke the law. He said a criminal case did not end when the perpetrator gave some form of compensation to the relative of the victim. He said some people resorted to compensation payments to the victims of a crime because they were afraid of being arrested and ending up in court. He said the culprits must be brought before the law and be  dealt with.
Police in the province are also focusing on curbing sorcery-related violence and urge victims to lodge their complaints. “If you shy away from this, how can we help you? It is a two-way thing.
“My fundamental duty is to protect lives. “If your life is in imminent danger, no one will kill you if you come and seek protection from the police.”

Malala students required to sign deal in cult crackdown bid

April 12, 2017 The National

STUDENTS at a Madang school are required to sign an agreement that they will stay away from any cult practices at the school. This follows a fight among students at the Malala Catholic Secondary School in Bogia, Madang.Bruno Tulemanil, the Catholic education secretary in Madang and a school board member, said the agreement was to stop cult practices which created other social problems in the school. Last month, he said a Grade 10 student got drunk and caused a rampage in school which led to its early closure for the Term One break. When the Grade 10 student was suspended, other Grade 10 pupils protested against the suspension and went out of control, he said. They were confronted by some Grade 11 and 12 students and led to a fight which damaged one of the boys’ dormitories. “This cult practice makes them stay silent and not report drinking habits in school,” Tulemanil said. He said students who reported drinking by other students were often beaten up. Tulemanil said part of the agreement was that boys returning to school were to pay K100 each to repair the damage they caused. “All the students will come with their parents to sign the agreement and bring K100 with them,” Tulemanil said.

 

PNG medical supplies contract comes under proper oversight

The National 17 April 2017

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has welcomed the announcement by the Central Supply and Tenders Board chairman, Dr Ken Ngangan, that the medical supplies contract will be subject to the results of a public tender. Since 2013, TIPNG – through its Community Coalition Against Corruption – consistently asked for an investigation into the award of the contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals after tendering rules were changed and the company was awarded a contract which cost the people of PNG nearly K100 million. “A reasonable explanation was never given and this money could have been better used,” Mr Stephens said.

“It is good to see the chairman of the Central Supply and Tenders Board reject yet another attempt by that company to be given preferential treatment and to oblige it to compete fairly.

Mr Stephens said strong signals need to be given and he welcomed Dr Ngangan’s signal that the “rights of the people be placed ahead of the demands of companies and their co-conspirators in decision-making positions to push PNG down paths it should be avoiding.”

 

Manam volcano erupts

The National, April 18, 2017

THE volcano on Manam Island in Bogia, Madang, erupted on Sunday evening, forcing many who had moved back there fleeing for safety. Paul Maburau, the ward councillor for Dugulava village on the island, said they saw flames coming out at around 7pm when many villagers were preparing to have dinner. He said fire was coming out of both craters of the volcano – the one between Bokure village and Kualang village, and the one between Dugulava and Warisi villages.
Maburau said more blasts came during the night and continued through yesterday.
“Every time there was a blast, the ground would shake,” he said.
“The place is very dark with the smoke from the volcano.
“We are taking refuge where we think is safe.”
He said some had left the island on the three available dinghies at Dugulava.
“Many of us left behind are now confused and scared of what will happen next,” Maburau said.
The provincial disaster office confirmed receiving the report from the island and would make plans to assess the situation today and assist the people.
Maburau said the people needed to be evacuated but fuel was the problem.
People from seven village in Giri confirmed seeing fire and smoke from Manam Island. “The volcano is now giving off dust and soon all our gardens will be spoiled,” Maburau said.
“This is my biggest fear because we will starve again.”

More ash spews over Manam

April 19, 2017 The National

THE Manam Island volcano in Bogia, Madang spewed more ash yesterday following eruption on Sunday.
Ward councillor for Dugulava village Paul Maburau said people who had access to transport left for Potsdam care centre on the Bogia mainland since Monday but some others needed help to be evacuated.
“We have dinghies but our problem now is fuel,” Maburau said.
The acting director for Madang provincial disaster and emergency office Rudolf Mongallee could not be reached for comment yesterday but a source from his office said the office was aware of the situation and had taken steps to communicate with authorities to help the people on the island.

Martin Ururu, the president for Iabu LLG representing the Manam islanders, said the people were neglected by the Government for as long as they lived in care centres.
He said those who had fought with landowners of care centres on mainland Bogia had no choice but moved back to the island and were now facing their fears and seeking refuge from the erupting volcano.

 

Response to Manam relief slow

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

WHILE panic and desperation have set in for the people who are on Manam Island, they can only hope and pray someone will come to their rescue. Today (Friday) will mark five days since the craters on the island erupted, spewing stones and heavy ashfall. Immediately, they are in need of fresh water, with their water sources, which are tanks and wells, most probably contaminated by the ashfall. However, government authorities in the province say cash flow is an issue and are depending heavily on the National Disaster and Emergency office to intervene. Provincial administrator Daniel Aloi, when contacted yesterday, said the provincial finance office had warrants, but these were without value, which meant there was no cash to back them. Mr Aloi said any assistance would be dependent on cash availability. Madang’s Provincial Disaster director Rudolf Mongalee also confirmed with local reporters that the office was without funds. Madang governor Jim Kas earlier this week said his office was without funds as he had not received the balance of the provincial services improvement program (PSIP) funds owed by the national government. His appeal to the National Disaster office was for urgent assistance with food rations and fresh water. Mr Kas had stressed that many islanders had moved back in spite of the dangers it posed, adding that those the government was likely to assist were only those from Baliau.

Meanwhile, a ward counsellor has expressed frustration over the lack of urgency by the government to their plight. He said, though it may be argued that the islanders should not have gone back to the island in light of the risks. Villagers from Dugulava who had been residing at the Tobenam and those from Baliau village from care centers were forced back due to the ethnic clashes with the mainlanders.

 

Bomana inmates take part in Way of the Cross

April 19, 2017 The National

FIFTEEN prisoners from the Bomana Prison Camp participated in carrying of the Way of the Cross in Port Moresby on Easter Friday. The prisoners, who were accompanied by three Correctional Services officers, carried the cross from Ela Beach to Down Town Fire Station and later participated in the programme all the way to Mary Queen of Pacific Parish in Waigani. Speaking on their behalf the prisoners, Sam Tom, a prisoner serving his 18th year this year, told The National that it was privilege for them to participate with the community. “Easter is the remembrance day for our Lord Jesus Christ, who came and died for our sins, so to participate with the community outside of prison to remember this day is a privilege for us.”
Tom’s message to youths, students and every Papua New Guinean was to think twice about everything they did. “Every individual must try to do what is good and abide by the laws because the consequence of wrongdoing in the prison is not good,” he said. Tom thanked Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo and officers for allowing them to celebrate Easter outside prison.
Officer accompanying them Sergeant Thomas Gamuna said carrying of the Way of the Cross was an event in which prisoners from the low security unit were allowed to participate in. Among the 15 prisoners was convicted former Pomio MP Paul Tiensten.

Magistrate throws out one of two charges against refugee

April 19, 2017 The National

A COURT has dismissed a case against a refugee, charged with providing false statements to obtain a PNG passport enabling his travel to Fiji, because the prosecution could not prove its case. Waigani Magistrate Mekeo Gauli dismissed the case against Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari, 21, because the prosecution failed to establish the essential elements in the charge. The court found that the arrest of Sawari on Feb 3 was flawed because he was not accorded his rights under Section 42 of the Constitution before a recorded interview was conducted between him and the police. The court also found that the passport used by Sawari to travel to Fiji on Jan 20 was not submitted to court as evidence.
Gauli ordered that his bail of K1000 be refunded. Sawari is facing another charge under the Migration Act which is still pending in court. Sawari was among the asylum seekers sent by the Australian government to the processing centre on Manus three years ago.

Child labour worry

March 20, 2017 The National

THE country has been warned to protect its children against child labour and sexual exploitation, as most of the 186 million cases in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region. During the launching last week in Mt Hagen of the national action plan to eliminate child labour, Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Benjamin Poponawa said current laws on child labour were ineffective and must be updated. International Labour Organisation director of the Pacific Island countries Donglin Li thanked the Government for launching its action plan “to protect the right and freedom of children” He said of the 186 million around the world engaged in child labour, the highest number was in the Asia-Pacific region. Li said around 85 million children were engaged in hazardous work, 5.7 million in forced and bound labour, 1.8 million in commercial sexual exploitation and 600,000 involved in other illicit activities.

First Home Owner Scheme out of reach for average Papua New Guineans
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

A research paper published by the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (NRI) has raised concerns that the First Home Owner Scheme (FHOS) might be unrealistic for low income earners in the country. In 2013 the PNG government allocated K200 million into the FHOS which is managed by the Bank South Pacific (BSP). This was one of the government initiatives undertaken at the time to address the need for more affordable housing in the country, especially in some of the more populated urban areas. However, according to the study conducted by associate professor Eugene Ezebilo, any household that spends more than 30 per cent of their income on housing will have housing affordability problems.

Prof Ezebilo says considering the 30 per cent benchmark and the 4 per cent annual interest compounded on the loan, it would take the average low income earner in Port Moresby 60 years to repay the money sourced from the FHOS for a house in the lowest price range of about K300 000. Unfortunately FHOS conditions stipulates a forty year repayment period, which means that low income earners may not be able to benefit from the home ownership scheme. As of April this year, BSP has approved 534 home loans valued at K270 million under the FHOS.

 

Enga, SHP prone to violence
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

Enga and Southern Highlands have been identified as two provinces most prone to human rights violation during the National Election. This was highlighted during the recent Highlands Human Rights Defenders training in Mount Hagen in which 15 participants from the Highlands provinces raised concerns about possible human rights abuses in the coming months. The Defenders said that violation of human rights during the election period was very real and huge, but they mostly go unnoticed, or is not addressed seriously. Facilitator and adviser to the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Commission, Kedar Poudyal, told participants to identify the hotspot provinces for abuses and plan strategies that could be used for corrective actions to address human rights violation. Participants identified problems during elections as isolation of polling booths, women and girls threatened and forced to vote against their will and discrimination of the marginalised and vulnerable population during voting.

The training for Highlands Human Rights Defenders was held on March 27-29 at Hotel Kimininga jointly organised by the Religion, Youth and Community Development Department, UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Oxfam.

 

Children appeal for Mother’s Release

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

FOUR children whose father was killed in a recent car accident in Mount Hagen, have appealed for their mother to be released from prison. Jonah Samuel, the elder son of the late Samuel Goi, made this appeal representing his three siblings, Lydia, Levai and Boss, who have been living with their father for the last ten years.Their mother, Grace Samuel, is serving time in Barawagi Jail, Simbu Province. The mother of the four children was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for killing another woman. Twelve-year-old Jonah, who is in grade four at Ogelbang Primary School, said the burden of looking after Lydia, 10, Levai, nine and six-year-old Boss is an enormous. Jonah will be the one to take charge after the passing of his father as their grandparents died a long time ago. “We don’t have anyone to take care of us. My mother is from Eastern Highlands Province and all my uncles, aunties and bubus are at Asaro,” Jonah said.He made an appeal to the Department of Correctional Service (CS)and Justice Department to release his mother even though she has three more years to serve in prison from the 10 years sentenced.

“We are appealing to the CS and the courts to release our mother. I am only in grade four, Lydia and Levai are in grade two and Boss is in elementary. “We are all in school and we don’t have someone to cook for us, wash our clothes, buy our clothes and meet our needs. Our father died and mother is in prison. Their absences in the house leave a vacuum that breaks our hearts every moment.

Jika Delemp community leader Afike Kunai said the children’s father had a disability, and he raised the kids all his life without their mother until he was allegedly killed and pushed into the river by a car.

 

Do anticorruption messages work?

Findings so far and what they could mean for Papua New Guinea

By Caryn Peiffer on April 20, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/anticorruption-messages-work-findings-far-mean-png-20170420/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=7e0591dc1d-Devpolicy+News+April+21+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-7e0591dc1d-227683090

Most anticorruption programs now include an awareness-raising element. The hope is that anticorruption messages – whether shared via posters, radio or TV, for example – will inspire citizens to refuse to pay bribes and to report any corruption they encounter. But there is so far little evidence available to tell us how effective these messages are. Some scholars have argued that they might even backfire and discourage the reporting of corruption. Could such messages simply prompt people to recall preconceived views that corruption is a widespread, insurmountable problem?

Together we recently also looked at PNG citizens’ willingness to report corruption. Using 2010-2011 household survey data and quantitative analysis, we asked which factors influenced willingness to report several different types of corrupt acts, and to what extent. A key finding was that citizens were less likely to be willing to report corruption if they lacked trust that the authorities would take action as a result. This suggests that in PNG an awareness-raising approach may have little effect. In the 2010-11 household survey, 38% of the 1,825 respondents agreed with the statement, ‘There is no point in reporting corruption because nothing useful will be done about it.’ [See url above for the full article]

 

PNG at 40: reflecting on the past to build a solid future for Papua New Guinea

http://devpolicy.org/png-40-reflecting-past-build-solid-future-papua-new-guinea-20170406/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=84da678560-ANUUPNG_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-84da678560-227683090

By Paul Barker on April 6, 2017

By the global standards of newly independent nations, Papua New Guinea experienced a relatively smooth transition to nationhood and comparatively untraumatic, or at least peaceful subsequent years. Although some observers predicted turmoil and breakup of the country upon Independence from Australia in 1975, instead PNG has remained intact and sustains a vibrant democracy, despite ongoing stresses and some clear aberrations from most political norms (not least the pursuit of politics seemingly oversubscribed, and not entirely for altruistic reasons). Although much has certainly been achieved in PNG over the past 41 years, the optimism that overtook much of the population around Independence has morphed for many into a level of disappointment and frustration over aspects of the country’s economic, social, political and cultural development.

Maybe the expectations at Independence were unrealistically high, and have been further fuelled by constant promises of wealth emanating from the country’s resources, which for much of the population (including those termed ‘resource owners’) have not converted into reality. Instead, access to economic opportunities and quality public goods and services has proven limited, especially in rural parts of the country seemingly deteriorated, whilst violent crime, and particularly violence against women and children, remain a constant threat in the major urban centres.

Often referred to as PNG’s ‘paradox of development’, resource wealth and periods of strong economic growth have failed to date to deliver broad-based and sustained economic and social opportunities, including strong and satisfactory improvement in social indicators. PNG is not alone in experiencing such travails of development, aspects of which are sometimes termed the ‘Resource Curse’, but the country should be able to achieve more meaningful improvements for the lives of its population into the future without forfeiting its cultural or environmental heritage, which are featured strongly in the National Constitution.

The PNG at 40 Symposium was organised by the Institute of National Affairs (INA) to bring together a team of dedicated persons with an immense wealth of experience of policy making and its application in PNG, to reflect on lessons and experience from the past and to contribute to preparing for and addressing the challenges of the future. The Symposium, held in March 2016 in Alotau, was intended to develop a home-grown, constructively critical and useful analysis of PNG’s forty years of independence, and to extract what can be learned from that experience to address current issues and inform future planning. It is hoped the symposium’s output will make a significant and practical contribution to the challenging and continuing task of nation-building. The three-day, by-invitation symposium was attended by 40 men and women who have been, are and intend to be engaged in shaping PNG’s political and economic development. They came from all walks of life: political, governmental, non-governmental, private sector, academia and the churches, and almost entirely Papua New Guineans.

Nine papers were commissioned from participants for presentation. The subjects fell within four broad themes – (i) PNG as a nation-state, (ii) PNG as a developing economy, (iii) PNG as an ethnically diverse society, and (iv) PNG in the Pacific, Asia and the world. Participants debated the issues raised by the papers, shared observations and insights, analysed lessons from past experience, and collectively reached reasoned conclusions about what lies ahead, and how PNG can best manage and influence current and foreseeable problems and issues.

A final session was devoted to Shaping and Building PNG’s future. Here, the participants built on the conclusions reached in the prior nine sessions and narrowed these down to Five Strategic Priorities:

  • Repair the Broken Political System
  • Shift the Focus from Monetary GDP to Broad Based and Sustainable Economic Growth
  • Restore a Professional, Accountable, Public Service and Institutions
  • Comprehensively and Effectively Apply the Rule of Law
  • Recognise and Promote PNG Culture

A central concern of the Symposium was the declining adherence to the rule of law and established systems and processes, including the National Constitution, both in government and across society. There was considerable discussion over the suitability of the Westminster system, as currently applied, and the vacuum associated with the shift from traditional Melanesian leadership and accountability arrangements to new and relatively alien systems of government (despite the recognition for traditional ways highlighted in the Constitution). However, it was emphasised that whatever system of government applies or is adapted over time, respect and adherence to the rule of law and accepted rules for society form the basis of a working society. Much needs to be done to reverse the slippage from that principle that has occurred over the years in most spheres of public life and accountability, both at the political and public service levels and more widely through society, in order to ensure the necessary and steady improvement in social and economic opportunities for the nation’s entire population.

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