12 provinces see red over service funding

National, Normal


TWELVE  provinces are struggling to raise enough revenue to fund the delivery of basic services to their rural districts – and may have “no hope” of ever succeeding, according to the National Economic and Fiscal Commission (NEFC).
Comparatively, six other provinces have more than enough money to spend on basic services but are not spending enough, NEFC says.
The cash-rich provinces are Western, Southern Highlands, Morobe, New Ireland, Enga and West New Britain.
“They have sufficient money to fund their minimum service delivery obligations,” chairman and chief executive officer of NEFC Dr Nao Badu said.
He said the data was showing NEFC that these provinces were choosing not to spend the money they had available.
“If this is what they have spent on service delivery, where did they spend the rest of the money?” he questioned.
Their poor cousins, according to NEFC, are East New Britain, Madang, Gulf, Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Oro, Central, Milne Bay, East Sepik, Sandaun and Manus.
Dr Badu was blunt about the future of these provinces.
He said these provinces had “no hope” of getting enough revenue in order to achieve the minimum level of service delivery to the bulk of their people in the rural areas.
“I have condemned these provinces. I condemn them they have no hope,” he said.
Dr Badu said these provinces did not have anywhere near enough revenue to meet their minimum service delivery obligations.
“At the moment, the amount of funding which they need is so huge that they have no hope of adequately delivering their minimum basic services to their people.”
Dr Badu said his team did the first exercise in 2005 to get as accurate as possible a picture of the cost of delivering basic services to the rural majority.
Now they are doing a second exercise.
“If we say that PNG is a rural-based population, then presumably the bulk of the services that the Government offers must be geared towards where the rural majority is situated,” he said.
In each province district administration officials were called in – the district administrator, the district treasurer and the sector managers –  health, education, agriculture, works and village courts – the five main areas where the revenue transfers have taken place.
District maps were then laid out in front of them and asked to state where their schools, health facilities, roads and village courts are located and how they get to deliver the services.
The remote sensing unit at the University of Papua New Guinea – using satellite images – is helping NEFC to plot the actual location of schools, health facilities, roads and other services in each district.
“That’s how accurate this information is,” Dr Badu said.
“No more guess work this is the real thing,” he said.