Abal welcomes aid review with caution

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A LARGE portion of Australian aid goes to consultants and this trend cannot continue, according to a Government review.
The review said it had been 35 years since Australian aid started to an independent Papua New Guinea and it was important that the two sides review how the “benevolent gift of Australia” had been used and managed in PNG.
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigrations Minister Sam Abal outlined these shortcomings when welcoming the review report by the consultants on the Development Cooperation Treaty (DCT) with Australia last week.
On the other hand, Mr Abal warned the Australian aid agency, AusAID, “not to hijack the review”.
He said although he had not fully studied the report, a quick glance had shown that the PNG Government’s position to critically assess the performance and management of Australian aid since Independence was not far off the mark.
Mr Abal also expressed concern that some of PNG officials were only given two days notice for such an important agreement of treaty status.
“The Australian aid since Independence has been massive and it is an important gift by the people and government of Australia and we are grateful for the Australian assistance.
“For the purpose of the DCT review, PNG Government’s position must be formulated and iterated within PNG Government prior to meeting with the Australian side.
“We have to critically assess to ensure that the impact of the aid money from Australia are seen and felt by PNG people.
“The Government is calling for a review of the landmark projects which are delivered, including important infrastructure projects, which the people of PNG can proudly call them as gifts from the people of Australia.”
He said he was glad that the review by the consultants was generally indicative of this situation which would most likely top the agenda in the forthcoming joint ministerial forum meeting in Alotau, Milne Bay province, this year.
This is an annual consultative meeting between the PNG and Australia governments at the ministerial level which Mr Abal and his Australian counterpart, Foreign minister Stephen Smith, will lead.