Urban areas gaining more than rural areas, govt must address this


THE Government needs to equalise the gains from Papua New Guinea’s progress across the entire population.
Rural people and other disadvantaged people are particularly at risk of missing out totally on the nation’s overall development and progress.
Every effort must be made to ensure that development goals are achieved in relation to all segments of society instead of focusing
on the 15 per cent of population in the urban and well developed areas.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 and PNG was part of that process.
PNG needs to give legal definition to this declaration by seriously addressing indigenous development issues given that the country is made up of mostly indigenous people and the majority of them live in the rural areas of the country where development is severely lagging.
Furthermore, with the country’s current socio-economic settings, the World Bank classifies PNG as a middle-income country with a low non-mining GDP growth rate though it is a highly resource-dependent economy.
Rural areas in Papua New Guinea sorely lag in vital development services and while the distinction between indigenous resource developments and government rural interventions is not critically pronounced, the social and environmental security of 90 per cent of the rural indigenous people is at stake.
Efforts to desegregates statistics and data concerning rural indigenous peoples is important to ensure that the development gains are broadly shared across all sectors of the population and
that policies that are ineffective in addressing the needs of rural indigenous people can be recognised and appropriately tailored
to the specific situations facing each indigenous people or geographical groups across the country.
Given the different cultural, social, and political settings of over 800 indigenous cultural groups in PNG, this can be difficult.
However, the cost of inadequately acknowledging rural indigenous people directly and devising tailored programmes to meet their development needs is potentially significant.
It could prove fatal for indigenous community rights and the principles of natural and social justice.
It is therefore vital to maintain a strong focus on the vital and critical rural infrastructure across the country.
Historically, agriculture has been the engine of economic growth, achieved through increased productivity, which in turn fuels non-agricultural growth in the rural areas.
I don’t see any other way by which we can improve our non-mining GDP growth rate.
The manufacturing sector and large-scale agro industries are the conspicuous drivers of non-mining activity of our economy, apart from other industries.
It seems Vision 2050 was formulated for the population in urban areas.
Maybe some of our resource laws are cut-and-paste of foreign laws.
Perhaps we are killing ourselves with our local geo-politics and egocentricity to the detriment of the rural majority.

Alois Balar
Bainings, ENB

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