The National, Wednesday 25th January 2012
THE government is gaining support for introducing many changes to correct wrongs and inefficiencies.
Its announcement of two major public policy statements in the form of free education and medical health service has further boosted its popularity nationwide.
Indeed the free education and medical care policies are good but will be costly, accounting for an estimated K2 billion annually.
The two sectors alone would attract a significant portion of the national budget. This is fine because our people deserve it.
Our people also deserve a quality, reliable and robust national road network system and the government must invest heavily in this sector.
Why the majority of our people are not benefiting from the national wealth is because the existing laws do not favour the host country.
This is further compounded by the fact that the state usually lacks a coordinated strategy and experts to negotiate smart in project agreements with the resource developers.
Revenues derived from these bad deals are poorly managed
as millions of kina leave the national coffers each year through corruption.
Consecutive governments have failed to fight corruption head-on.
The government needs to also address the inherent core issues which prevent PNG deriving maximum economic gains from natural resources.
In respect to the free education and free health care policies, the government must expound these policies in order to address the issue of quality.
Free education and free health care policies will fail to offer our people quality services in these sectors if capacity and infrastructure issues are not built into the two policies and adequately funded.
The government must think big and it has already demonstrated that.
The economic outlook is promising and this is fuelled largely by the resource boom and the high world commodity prices which show no sign of easing in the foreseeable future.
The government must address the acute capacity and resource issues currently affecting the petroleum and energy department (DPE), the principal regulator of the billion dollar hydrocarbon industry.
After 2018, the petroleum sector will overtake the mining sector as the leading foreign exchange earner and this will be attributed to the fact the PNG LNG and InterOil’s Liquid Niugini Gas Limited projects are expected to come on stream in 2014 with the capacity to generate more than K8 billion annually.
PNG is currently experiencing an unparalleled increase in upstream petroleum exploration and if these activities translate into oil and gas discoveries, the petroleum sector will contribute massively to the national economy and the national budget.
The government therefore must address DPE’s inherent serious capacity, office infrastructure and resource issues so that the industry is efficiently administered and regulated.
I support the government’s policy on free education and free health care services but if the relevant state institutions which regulate key economic sectors are poorly resourced and managed, the long-term viability and sustainability of implementing these major policies will be futile.