Social Concerns Notes – September 2018

Couple mark 50 yrs of marriage
Post Courier August 31, 2018
Lina Koro and Gabriel Yombonakali met, strange as it might seem in the days of no mobile phones and ‘selfies’, via a photograph without ever setting eyes upon each other in 1968.
Hearing of her existence via relatives, Gabriel sent Lina a photograph of himself at Lae.
Lina saw her future husband in the uniform of a warder with the sea in the background and decided he was the man for her.
Bride price was paid by Gabriel’s relatives again without one setting eyes upon the other and Lina arrived in Lae where both made their nuptial vows to remain faithful and true until death parted them at Lae’s Top Town Catholic Church on August 22, 1968.
Last Saturday, three days past the 50th anniversary of that day, Lina and Gabriel again rededicated themselves to each other for the balance of their natural lives at Gerehu’s St Charles Lwanga Church.
A Golden Jubilee mass was celebrated by friends from every church in the Capital followed by a feast. At an age of broken marriage pacts and loose morals, how, you might ask, had this marriage stuck for half a century? “In the custom you have strict rules that a man and woman must follow in marriage. We followed them. As Christians there are strict rules you have to follow. We followed them. There is no magic.”“A nd another wife, polygamy, it is customary, is it not?” he was asked on the day. “Marrying many wives is for the big man,” Yombonakali said. The big man has wealth. He can pay the bride price for many wives and look after extra sets of in-laws. I cannot and I do not want to be bothered by squabbling wives and their relatives.” Lina Koro hails from Monokam and Gabriel Yombonakali from Lakamanda in Ambum Valley, Enga.
They have five surviving children who have blessed them with 17 grandchildren.

Travel Ban for PNG
Post Courier, August 31, 2018
PAPUA New Guinea has reached the highest international security alert of Level 4 as one of the world’s “no-go-zone” countries. PNG is now among North Korea, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Syria that the United Kingdom and United States have placed a Level 4 alert on. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Emil Tammur is now calling for urgent intervention by relevant government authorities, stakeholders and local communities to curb law and order issues which are seriously affecting the country’s tourism sector. Mr Tammur expressed grave concerns that criminal activities such as armed hold-ups on tourists and tribal fighting in tourism hot spots were already having a negative impact with increased holiday cancellations and on PNG generally as a desired tourism destination. He condemned the armed robbery of 20 tourists at Tawali Dive Resort in Alotau recently, where criminals took wallets, mobile phones, cameras and other personal items from tourists who had come from as far away as Europe, Asia and North America. This is the third time one of the top dive resorts in PNG has been attacked, Mr Tammur said….

Massive land scandal has been delayed, shredded & buried
30 August 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/08/massive-land-scandal-has-been-delayed-shredded-buried.html#more. Act Now
PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea government has tried to bury and forget the SABL land grab scandal in which more than five million hectares of land has been stolen from rural communities. The government is using a well-tested formula that is employed almost every time a new corruption scandal is exposed. First, there is a long-drawn out official inquiry that is then delayed by funding and other logistical problems. There is subsequently a further deferral before the inquiry findings are tabled in parliament. Next, a public promise of action is made and it is announced that a committee will be established to implement the inquiry findings. And then nothing. No resignations, no prosecutions, no corrective action, no compensation. Stone cold silence. In the case of the SABL land grab, the official commission of inquiry took more than two-years to complete its investigations (March 2011 – June 2013) and, due to political interference and funding problems, reported on only 42 of the75 leases investigated. The prime minister then instituted a further three months delay before presenting the 42 commission reports to parliament in September 2013. Since then, a number of different committees have been announced to supposedly implement the findings, which included recommendations for criminal prosecution of public servants involved in the most egregious and fraudulent leases.Most la ndowners affected by the SABL land grab still wait for their land to be returned while the forest authority is still issuing logging licences in affected areas.

Dramatic revelations on tax evasion & illegal logging in PNG
02 September 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/dramatic-revelations-on-tax-evasion-illegal-logging-in-png.html#more. Oakland Institute
The full report on ‘The Great Timber Heist Continued’ is available at https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/great-timber-heist-continued-papua-new-guinea
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – In a just released investigative report, ‘The Great Timber Heist-Continued: Tax Evasion and Illegal Logging in Papua New Guinea’, the Oakland Institute has made public new evidence of financial misreporting and tax evasion in the logging industry in Papua New Guinea.
Following its 2016 report, which alleged that financial misreporting by foreign firms resulted in non-payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, the new report reveals drastic worsening of this pattern in recent years. According to the financial records, the 16 studied subsidiaries of PNG’s largest log exporter, the Malaysian Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Group, have doubled their financial losses in just six years while increasing their exports of tropical timber by over 40%. Despite decades of operations in PNG, logging companies barely declare any profits. The official tax filings of most firms report losses year after year. How is it then possible for these companies to still remain in business if they don’t make profits? Any other business under such circumstances would have shut down by now. Even more puzzling is that the more Rimbunan Hijau subsidiaries harvest and export timber, the more money they declare in losses. Not only do they almost never pay any income tax, but their continued losses allow them to accumulate an astounding volume of tax credits – making it likely that they won’t pay any income tax for years to come.”…
The full report on ‘The Great Timber Heist Continued’ is available at https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/great-timber-heist-continued-papua-new-guinea

Literacy Rate Remains Low
Post Courier, September 4, 2018
THE country celebrates literacy week beginning this month yet struggles to address literacy and numeracy in the country. Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra said nine of the 22 provinces have not reached an acceptable literacy rate. From 2015 literacy report, PNG’s literacy rate is low at 63.4 per cent. The adult literacy rate increased from 57.3 per cent in 2000 to 63.4 per cent in 2015, growing at an average annual rate of 5.28 per cent. The national literacy rate for women is at 61.77 per cent and male at 65.06 per cent as recorded in 2015. According to the secretary, the government’s effort to elevate the national literacy rates has introduced the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) to educate school children from elementary to secondary starting in 2012.

More doctors needed
September 4, 2018The National
CONCERN has been raised over the need for more doctors in the country, with some heavily populated areas in Gulf and Western having none at all, a medical symposium has been told.
PNG Society of Rural and Remote Health president Dr David Mills told the week-long national medical symposium, which began in Madang yesterday, that the country had a ratio of one doctor to 20,000 people. Mills told the symposium, which is focusing on rural health, that half the total number of the doctors in the country were based in the National Capital District. Others were spread around the country. “PNG’s health story is a rural health story. We need more doctors and we need to train more doctors,” he said.
Mills said certain local level governments, which had more than 20,000 people in provinces such as Gulf and Western, did not have any doctor.
Meanwhile, Health and HIV-AIDS Minister Sir Puka Temu also launched a book titled The last doctor, by Dr Rebecca Williams, 28, of Kompiam Hospital in Enga. Sir Puka said he was inspired by the inspiriting stories of doctors which Williams complied. He said the book would “inspire our young and upcoming doctors to serve our people in rural aid posts”. Williams said many doctors underwent training at the Kompiam Hospital and she put together the book “to encourage and inspire young doctors to love their profession more and serve wholeheartedly”.
Bougainville Peace Agreement
Post Courier, September 5, 2018
What is the Bougainville Peace Agreement and what are the key elements of the Document?
By Dr Thomas Webster
The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) was signed in August of 2001 after nearly three years of negotiations between leaders from Bougainville and the PNG National Government. The BPA followed a successful cease fire agreement, i.e. “Lincoln Agreement” that was brokered by the New Zealand Government and signed in Lincoln in January of 1998, which brought to an end the ten-year civil war that began in 1988.
The Agreement has three pillars. They are as follows;
Autonomy
The Agreement provides for arrangements for an autonomous Bougainville Government operating under a home-grown Bougainville Constitution with a right to assume increasing control over a wide range of powers, functions, personnel and resources on the basis of guarantees contained in the National Constitution.
Referendum
The agreement provides for the right, guaranteed in the National Constitution, for a referendum among Bougainvilleans on Bougainville’s future political status.
The outcome of the referendum will be subject to ratification (final decision making authority) of the National Parliament.
Weapons Disposal Plan
The agreed weapon disposal plan will proceed in stages, area by area around Bougainville, beginning as soon as is practicable. After the constitutional amendments implementing this agreement have been passed by the National Parliament and by the time they take legal effect, remaining Defence Force and Police Mobile Unit personnel will have been withdrawn from Bougainville and weapons will be held in secure containers. The containers will have two separate locks with the key to one held by the United Nations Observer Mission on Bougainville (UNOMB) and the other by the relevant ex-combatant Commander….

669 prison escapees since 2016
September 6, 2018The National
CORRECTIONAL Services Minister Roy Biyama told Parliament yesterday that 669 prisoners had escaped since 2016 and only 123 were recaptured, leaving 546 still at large. Biyama was responding to questions by Ijivitari MP Richard Masere on the number of prison breaks in the country contributing to increased law and order issues. He said communities had not cooperated for the recapture of those inmates. The minister said this year 78 had escaped and three were recaptured while the rest remained at large.
Biyama said the population of remands in Correctional institutions totalled 3424 and the convicted 2021, bringing the total to 5445 in June.
“There are 20 Correctional institutions in the country.”

A putrescent Moresby loses control of its appalling waste problem
06 September 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/a-putrescent-moresby-loses-control-of-its-appalling-waste-problem.html#more
PORT MORESBY – Managing solid waste is one of the biggest problems in Port Moresby and it is strange that it receives so little attention compared to other urban management issues.
The yellow and green coloured 44-gallon drums placed along streets and in suburbs and markets have been bent and broken over time. Truth be told, there are no suitable rubbish bins and public toilets in the city. There is also no routine collection and disposal of rubbish.
Port Moresby’s long dry season intensifies the stench of human faeces and urine and the sour odour of heaps of rubbish. For more than 20 years, I foraged Waigani swamp for supertala (fish) and wild ducks and have gradually witnessed dismantled car parts, tyres, containers, plastics and much more engulf my hunting ground. Solid waste dumped into drains in the northern part of the city accumulates for months until finally the rains come and sweep it into the Waigani swamp. In the south the rains drive the waste into the sea. [for the rest of this interesting article, see the above url.]

30 patients await radiotherapy
Post Courier September 10, 2018
An 11-year-old girl is among 30 cancer patients currently at the Angau national cancer centre (NCC) awaiting radiotherapy which is unavailable in PNG. One of the 30 is a male with breast cancer. The oldest of the 30 is a 60 plus year-old female, according to the PNG Cancer Relief Society awareness co-ordinator, Grace Ruddaka. National Cancer Centre registrar oncologist Dr David Kundi also confirmed the above statistics on Friday. Of the 30 patients with various cancers including ovary, breast and mouth cancers, alongside the man are seven women with breast cancer, Ms Ruddaka said. She said two women have cancer of the ovary and seven have cervical cancers, while the rest are other types of cancers, including mouth cancer.
She said the last batch of chemotherapy drugs for the NCC arrived last Tuesday, but are still not enough.

Kuman admits shortage of teachers
Post Courier, September 10, 2018
EDUCATION Minister Nick Kuman has admitted there is a shortage of teachers throughout the country. Mr Kuman said in Parliament on Friday that there are 56,000 teachers’ currently available but only 46,000 are in class while most are on the streets, being displaced because of politics after the 2017 national election. “My position is very simple, I do not want to see teachers on the streets, they must be on the payroll and in the classroom,” Mr Kuman said. He appealed to leaders in the provinces and districts not to play politics over the education of the children. “Let’s be fair and honest and make sure that our teachers are in school to take some responsibility in the provinces.”
He said teachers have resigned to contest the elections and some have been accused of supporting certain political leaders and are made to pay for their actions.“Th e teachers’ that we have now is not enough to cater for 2.2 million children in our school system right throughout PNG.
“What is the required total number of teachers we need in their country, both for primary and high schools, TVET vocational schools…it’s around 70,000, do we have positions for the 70,000, the answer is yes, we have got 85,000 positions in the country. “From today to the end of this term of parliament, we must train at least 24,000. Do we have the capacity in our teacher training colleges? The answer is ‘no’. That’s why Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had made an announcement that we are going to put a lot of emphasis to ensure we build capacity in our teacher training colleges.”

PNG needs more nurses
Post Courier September 7, 2018
PAPUA New Guinea still does not have enough nurses to cater for the ever growing population, said PNG Nurses Association president Frederick Kebai. “We still have a shortage of nurses because the population keeps on growing at a faster rate and new facilities are being built and we are unable to meet the manpower demand. “Currently there are 4000-plus financial members of the PNGNA, other 4000 in the public sector while in the church-run health service facilities and the private sector, there are 12 000 nurses,” he said. Mr Kebai said nurses comprise of 80 per cent of the health workforce in terms of health service delivery. He said despite social, economic and political challenges faced by nurses daily, the love and compassion demonstrated by the nurses is always constant.

K2 million for unattached public servants
September 13, 2018
Papua New Guinea has a staggering 6167 unattached officers with a corresponding total cost in terms of salaries and allowances around K2 million per fortnight. This was revealed by Minister for Public Service Elias Kapavore who said that these officers are currently unattached while waiting to be redeployed or substantively appointed to vacant positions through the normal selection and recruitment process. Unattached staff, within the public services, are still part of the total staff on strength until such time they are dealt with through appropriate provisions under their terms and conditions of employment. “From the 6167 unattached employees on the ascender integrated HR payroll system 1305 have been dropped through redeployment and termination, the remaining 4961 will be dealt with through the ongoing internal selection redeployment and retirement process,” Mr Kapavore said. “Unattached refers to officers who have been detached from their positions while an agency is implementing a new or refined structure, or those who have not been appointed a position.

To Mine or not to Mine, Bougainvilles Big Question
Post Courier, September 12, 2018
A report furnished by an Australian humanitarian group has just been released detailing the many other ways that Bougainville could prosper post independence.Com piled by a handful of dedicated researchers and community workers attached to Jubilee Australia, the report titled, “Growing Bougainville’s Future: Choices for an Island and its People” examines the choices facing the people of Bougainville and asks the question ‘to mine or not to mine’? The report brings out the unspoken notion among the Bougainville populace that large-scale mining is the only developmental path for small soon to be independent island nation. It covers the positives of mining, but focuses on findings of alternative economic strategies other than extractive endeavors. Furthermore, it reflects on the possibilities and realities of an extractives-led development path for Bougainville and examines the availability of an alternative path concluding that alternatives to large-scale mining do exist and that many Bougainvilleans are already participating in and developing these alternatives.
The report identifies findings like that of land being of central importance to Bougainvilleans that must be considered in all decision making. Also highlighted in the document are findings that agriculture is the single most important source of livelihood and food that if encouraged and developed could prove to have economically transformative potential. Furthermore, the report is being published along with a short film titled, ‘Bougainville: Long Han Blong Yumi’.  The film specifically made for Bougainvillean audiences exploring many of the same issues explored in the report.

DFAT health sector report pulls punches on a critical situation
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/pulled-punches-in-png-health-sector-evaluation-arent-helpful.html. 18 September 2018
The report by Ian Anderson and Renee Martin was presented to DFAT last December, well before the recent outbreak of polio confirmed a shocking reality that many of us suspected – that health services in PNG are going downhill fast and have now reached a danger point.
The report, which you can read in full here, assesses the efforts of six multilateral development partners – the Asian Development Bank; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria; the World Bank and three United Nations agencies, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO – over a six year period.
Anderson and Martin have done what many consultants do when reporting upon big and powerful organisations – intimating problems while pulling punches about some of the most inimical reasons and about where real responsibility lies. And they’re more than challenges; they are realities that are killing people. As commentator Matt Morris tweeted wryly, “….challenges like endemic corruption in drug procurement, funding cuts to pay for APEC, a collapsing health system and now polio.”
… Unwittingly pre-empting the polio disaster, the report says that “immunisation rates have essentially stagnated for decades and in some cases declined” and “policy dialogue with [the PNG government] has had only modest success.” In other words, it is rather cavalier in taking notice of what we advise. The report continues with a register of despair: PNG has the fourth highest rate of stunting in the world; maternal mortality remains one of the highest in the world; there are “stubborn weaknesses” in health financing and the provision of essential drugs to front line services; essential drugs run out of stock; and there is the “double burden of controlling communicable (including drug-resistant) diseases alongside the rapid rise of expensive to treat non-communicable diseases”. Meanwhile, health is decreasing in real terms with a strong suspicion intimated that the PNG government is using donor funding not to add to its own funding but as a substitute for it – thereby depriving the health sector further.

Police provides escort to highway travellers
September 19, 2018The National
HELA police have advised commuters on the Highlands Highway to travel in groups with a police escort to avoid being robbed. Hela provincial commander Chief Superintendent Martin Lakari said police were noting the increase in the number of armed robbery cases. Police will now provide escort from Tari town, in Hela, to Magarima then to Mt Hagen. He said vehicles would have to travel together and escorted by police.
He advised commuters travelling from Mt Hagen to Tari to wait at Magarima for the police escort.
“When they (criminals) see no police escort travelling with other vehicles, they quickly contact each other and set up roadblocks to rob people,” he said.He s aid the criminals contacted each other on mobile phones on the movement of vehicles along the highway. “It is very hard for the police to catch them because they communicate among themselves to avoid the police,” he said.
“Now, no vehicle is travelling along in isolation and crimes have slowly been reduced.”

Health complacency; unsanitary conditions caused polio outbreak
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/health-complacency-unsanitary-conditions-caused-polio-outbreak.html. 19 September 2018

Eighteen years after Papua New Guinea was declared polio-free, the virus has come to plague the children of this island nation in Oceania. In May, lower limbs of a six-year-old boy from in the city of Lae became paralysed.
After samples were sent to the US for testing, the fear of polio outbreak was confirmed. Since then 12 children across five provinces in Papua New Guinea have been diagnosed with this debilitating disease. The children affected by polio are aged between 12 months and 10 years. All of them have experienced paralysis, with some unable to walk and others comparatively less affected.
The outbreak has prompting an emergency vaccination campaign. The first case in Lae is a vaccine-derived form of polio wherein the weakened form of the virus used in vaccines mutates and spreads. Samples of other children in the same region have confirmed they had the strain of mutated virus in their systems. The loc al authorities suspect that the outbreak happened when water supply was contaminated by faeces that contained the mutated virus. According to several reports, ever since Papua New Guinea was declared polio-free, the authorities adopted a lackadaisical approach to vaccines. This is true for other preventable diseases like measles. The nationwide polio vaccine coverage has reportedly fallen from about 80% to 30% in the last two decades. Some children in Papua New Guinea did not receive the full dose of vaccine. As opposed to the three courses of droplets needed to be fully immunised, some children received only one course. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries where polio has not been eradicated yet. In 2017, only 22 cases of polio were reported worldwide. …

Can the ADB solve the corruption crippling PNG’s health system?
19 September 2018
http://pngicentral.org/reports/can-adb-solve-the-corruption-crippling-pngs-health-system
PORT MORESBY – The Asian Development Bank says it will assist Papua New Guinea address the systemic failings in its health system through a new $195 million program, but can this externally driven project successfully address the chronic problems of corruption and mismanagement in the sector? Over the last 10 months PNGi has repeatedly exposed the systemic problems in the procurement and supply of medicines in PNG that is ultimately causing unnecessary deaths and incalculable suffering across the country. ‘Profiting from Sickness’ Part 1, Part 2, and  Part 3 focused attention on the abusive commercial transactions that are leading to the circulation of overpriced and substandard medical goods in our hospitals, health centres and aid posts, while Part 4 looked in detail at the problems on the logistics side of the supply chain. In one instance, a senior Health Department official is alleged to have been paid more than K250,000 to facilitate payments to a logistics company involved in distributing medical kits. Despite the clear documented evidence of the payments, no action has been taken by the Health Secretary to refer the matter to the police.
In another, a service provider with a history of ‘poor performance’, whose ‘deliveries have been delayed by months’, who overcharges and refuses, in some instances, to provide proof that deliveries have actually been made, is continually ‘rewarded’ with new contracts while the National Department of Health refuses to take any steps to monitor the company’s performance. ….

TB Crisis Looms
Posts Courier, September 21, 2018
WE NOW have a major health crisis waiting to explode, with deadly tuberculosis on the prowl that is akin to the HIV/AIDS scare of 10 years ago. Since TB is an airborne infection it can be easily transmitted and that’s what makes this threat deadly serious. Last year, there were more than 35,000 TB cases nationwide. In the National Capital District alone there are now 6000 cases.
The startling revelations were made on last Wednesday night by Dr Ann Clarke, project manager, Businesses for Health Papua New Guinea (B4H) while receiving a cash donation of K10,000 from law firm, Ashurst in Port Moresby.
The rise in drug-resistant TB was first highlighted nearly two years ago by Newton Orowari of the Anglican Health Service based at Dogura in Milne Bay Province. Mr Orowari said then the change of policy from cure to prevention was responsible for the closure of aid posts in Alotau district.
PNG ranks in the top 20 for rates of drug resistant TB and HIV co-infection. If you are HIV positive you are most likely to die for TB.

Fight continues unabated in Daru – a world TB hot spot
24 September 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/the-fight-continues-unabated-in-daru-a-world-tb-hot-spot.html
DARU – “Hurry up and come! The health workers are here!” With the help of an enthusiastic community member and a megaphone, the tuberculosis screening team announce their arrival in Bamu, a small community on Daru island in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province. Within minutes, community members emerge from homes, gardens and fields to make their way towards the makeshift clinic. By the time the first people take their seats at the registration desk, the team is already hard at work preparing for another day in the fight against TB. They are there with a clear mission: to screen as many people as possible, educate the community about the disease and link suspected cases directly to treatment services.
The challenge is immense. In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that the entire population of Daru be screened because of alarmingly high rates of tuberculosis, especially the even harder to beat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Health services on this island in the remote south-west corner of PNG have struggled to cope with TB for many years, compounded by the challenging terrain that makes it difficult for people to travel to the central hospital for diagnosis and treatment. To combat this challenge, the TB van – a custom-built, all-terrain, mobile x-ray screening vehicle, complete with a giant photograph of PNG’s most famous rugby player, Ase Boas, and the slogan ‘let’s kick TB out of PNG’ – hit the road with the mission to test the entire population of Daru for TB. “In Daru the hospital is quite far and most of the people are not going to the hospital until they are really sick,” said Natalie Fimbuvu, the x-ray technician on board the van. “We help them by providing services at their doorstep.”
Natalie is a vital part of the 10-person health team that has so far screened around 6,500 people across Daru in a little under a year. Natalie calmly and expertly guides each and every person through the two-minute x-ray process inside the van. “We know it’s a big fight but if we can all stand together and do as much as possible, to the best of our potential, I’m sure we can do it. We can kick TB out of PNG,” says Sandra.

Court Strikes out Rape Case for want of Police Prosecution
Post Courier, September 25, 2018
POLICE engagement in APEC security operations has resulted in an alleged rapist walking free yesterday after his case was struck out at the Waigani Committal Court.Tw enty-year-old Benny Martin, who was charged with the abduction and rape of a young girl at the Kesi 2 settlement in Port Moresby, has now had his case struck out after the arresting officer failed to serve any instructions on the case in the past four months since the matter was first brought before the court. Further inquiries by senior magistrate Cosmas Bidar revealed that the failure by the arresting officer in question to serve instructions was largely due to the fact that she had been preoccupied with the APEC Leaders’ Summit security operations.

From Nation builders to thugs and destroyers
Monday, September 24, 2018
http://www.pngblogs.com/2018/09/from-nation-builders-to-thugs-and.html?m=1

…. Facts speak for themselves; United Nation’s rating of PNG in the past 37 years in terms of delivery of basic goods and services in areas of infrastructure, health and education services among other world nations:
• 1975 PNG ranked 77th;
• 2004 PNG dropped to 139th place;
• 2008 PNG plummeted to 149th placing; and in
• 2012 PNG further plummeted to 156th placing in the world.
This is stunning. In 37 years we were passed by 79 countries. From 2012 – 2018, past six years, our performance made little difference on the development index. We failed in all facets in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. We failed in meeting the envisaged targets in the Vision 2050 while our Medium Term Development Strategy stands only as a resemblance of our discursive nature of ‘many policies, little results’ nation. We have become a nation where ‘people ain’t breaking the law, it’s the law breaking them’.
Away from the conventional practice of measuring development and economic growth based on GNP and GDP indexes, we should consider the Basic Need Approach where we measure presence or absence of minimum basic human requirements for life as well as services; food, safe drinking water, suitable shelter, clothing, basic household equipment and essential services such as sanitation, public transport, health and education facilities.
During the 43 years journey, we have written many laws, repealed and amended many, designed many more new ones but hell little was achieved at the end. We spent millions in hosting many workshops, meetings and forums in high places and attended thousands of international conferences, talk shows and road shows but failed to convert these experiences into tangible PQL results in our people. The pendulum is swinging between Absolute Poverty and Relative Poverty 43 years on.
We are liberal in our political design pronouncing our allegiance to individual liberty, free trade and moderate reform but liberalism has created more self-style millionaires out of our commonwealth over 20 years. Annually, around AUD $250 million in ‘stolen’ money find its way out to foreign destinations. It is inevitable that the gap between the ‘have’ and the ‘have not’ is widening and yet nothing is said or seen to be done to address it. Dangerous!
All of us who inhabit the land share in the common fact that our very existence depends on the shared availability of our commonwealth. But this ought not to be as the economy has been engineered only to create an illusion that it is creating wealth and sharing the wealth. In fact, it is not but concentrating on the declining pool of wealth into fewer and fewer hands who control power, money and the elite class.
Liberalism has created a polycentric oligarchic system in the guise of democracy. The existing majoritarian regime engenders the top 5% who control power, money and decision making to further harness their course with little regard to fellow citizens.
Over the past 20 years, we have created a selfish and greedy country where every man is for himself. As if a person would say ‘if I had an opportunity to steal a million, I will for me, my wife and kids, forget about the rest’. PNG has become a fat milking cow, an ATM machine where anyone – national or foreigner – with a debit card can swipe to withdraw cash at will.
We depend on the elite ‘think tank’ to intervene but only to find them encumbered in their ‘comfort zones’ leaving no one to blow the whistle and action to save PNG.
Individual liberty has created self-style mannerists who can at will; smoke at public places and in PMVs, chew and spittle betelnut anywhere everywhere, drink alcohol and play music to late night, carry one metre bush knives and using it on others, throw rubbish anywhere everywhere, using and abusing law to encroach on other persons property and land, with little regard to health and individual liberty of others around them. What blend of generation are we having in stock to lead in the next 40?
Free trade has cost us big time in 43 years yet we failed to notice. Even if we noticed it and trying to un-tag, global capitalism has already taken its prowess and grip on us and on every emerging economy like devil’s own ramification on earth.
Capitalism, in the form of all transnational corporations, has monopolized the production of manufactured goods using high tech machinery and equipment, commerce and marketing, banking, information and mass media. It is maintained that they use not only their enormous economic but also corruption and unfair or immoral practices to eliminate competition and preserve their dominance.
Third world countries like Papua New Guinea are therefore forcefully made dependent on developed countries for capital, technology and markets. These rich countries using WTO as shield set interest rates, terms of trade, the tariffs and import barriers generally, through their economic power and drain off surpluses in the poor countries. In the making, the world is polarized into the rich and powerful ‘haves’ and the poor and dependent ‘have-nots’.
They have defined the New World Order as a vehicle for multinational consolidation of commercial and banking interest by ceasing interests of the political governments. It represents a skilful coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four (4) centres of power; political, monetary, intellect, and ecclesiastical.
Opponents of the WTO say that negotiations conducted without public scrutiny end up benefiting wealthy nations. They say the organization infringes on the sovereignty of member states and trade deals don’t consider the impact on the environment. Developing countries, which often have uncompetitive industries that rely on government support, can be hurt by opening up to global trade as their companies struggle against more efficient foreign rivals. Many economists view this dislocation as a temporary setback that reverses developing countries like PNG into global control using tough competition.
Our export commodities are organic and among the best. Despite this, we do not price it, they price it. Prices are subject to world market trend which is controlled by international banking elites who control WTO.
APEC is no different. Except that it houses trade and development interests of member countries in the Asia Pacific region of which PNG is a member. In the coming APEC Leaders’ Summit in November, it is an opportune time for PNG to voice its concerns.
Trade meetings like the APEC and WTO are avenues where emerging trade-dependent economies must take advantage. On priority, agenda must be unfair pricing, high tariffs, among others.
When our gold, copper, oil, gas, timber, fishery, and other such resources are traded and not getting real value for the money, it results in lack of capital to service its debts and fund operations of the budget. Due to increasing population pressure every year, demand for goods and services increase also every year so the Government is forced to borrow to meet the deficit gap. Each time money is borrowed, a second borrowing follows to service the first, the third to service the second, the fourth to service the third, and so on so forth until PNG enters a “debt trap”.
Remember, loans are acquired on the basis of collaterals or security meaning the Government commits our mines, gas fields, and other investments as collaterals when picking loans. Basing on the Singaporean Government’s Temasek model, State silo companies were consolidated into Kumul Petroleum Ltd, Kumul Mineral Ltd, and the Kumul Consolidated Holdings Ltd which comprises some 10 other State enterprises including Air Niugini, Water PNG, PNG Ports, Post PNG, Telikom PNG, and others and together amass around a K50 billion balance sheet, such assets are used against loans.
With too much confusion caused by a continuous deluge of ‘foreign advice and influences’, our national performance output has been mediocre.
What is needed now is to admit, accept and sacrifice for changes in the entire statecraft or our children will curse us for our inaction today.

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