Development must benefit our people

Letters

IT is heart-warming to hear from some people that there has been development taking place around the country under this government.
I agree that this government has delivered a number of projects, especially lucrative construction projects within a short period of time, accumulating more debts than any other government in the political history of this country.
Development is not just a measure of the number of infrastructures one built around the places to justify the number of loans obtained or the very high cost of building those infrastructures or running this country on a deficit budget with a large national debt.
The key question is, how are these infrastructures improving the quality of life and living standards of an average Papua New Guinean? How are these infrastructures connecting the people and escalating the economic growth of the country, to give people opportunities to reduce widespread poverty? How are these infrastructures placing the people to equally benefit from the prosperity generated from the economic growth?
Some of us may be tempted to preach about the infrastructures development but how do you explain the very high costs of building them or awarding multimillion dollar contracts to certain foreign contractors (overlooking local companies) or awarding lucrative contracts to companies connected to certain politicians?
We may be blinded by our desperation for development that we may accept anything the government builds in the name of development but can we say we don’t deserve it, especially in a resource rich country?
Development is not measured by infrastructures built but should be people focused, placing the wellbeing of the people at the center of all development efforts to improve their living standards and quality of life by giving them equal opportunities to take part in the economic growth and prosperity of the country.
It seems the kind of development we talk about in this country robs the poor and only enrich the political class, their cronies and close foreign associates.
The development we are talking about increment of creating jobs and businesses, instead of preserving jobs and businesses, it takes away business and job opportunities from locals and give it to foreigners.
What the people get out of the development are substandard and poor quality infrastructures built at hyper-inflated prices without proper long-term planning and master plans in place.
I would rather suggest to the government that when they want to talk about development they should talk about development in terms of poverty reduction, improving people’s living standards, raising income levels for households, reducing income inequity among the haves and havenots, creating thousands of jobs every year, reducing corruption, growing GDP and GNP, improving balance of trade, controlling inflation, improving the Development Index, reducing law and order, etc.
The cost of living in this country is one of the highest in the world, even more expensive than a developed country, let alone for a developing country.
This has been a major hindrance to development.
The cost of all basic needs (such as housing, clothing, food, education, health care) should be the government’s first priority to make them affordable with our income level but this is not the case in PNG.
People are suffering to make daily ends meet in one of the most expensive yet poor and corrupt countries in the world.
It’s ironic to talk about expensive infrastructure development when the Government cannot adequately provide the basic human needs.
The development concept is allowing MPs to dictate the development of the country instead of being driven by the medium and long term national goals and strategic plans.

Lucas Kiap, via email

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