THE Government’s release of K3.5 million in response to the jail breakout and escape of wanted criminals is necessary but also is a stark reminder to itself to be proactive rather than be reactive to many issues.
The escape from the highest security prison happened at a time when we read that CS officials are pleading for the hierarchy to address issues like electricity subsidy, housing, vehicles and rundown jail facilities. While the Government has turned a blind eye to such requests, it is quick to release funds in reaction to a situation that has put our internal security at risk. Although a necessary reaction, the horse has bolted!
Other issues that require a proactive approach from the Government in ensuring the adequate resources and facilities are in place for PNG’s security relate to the Defence and Police forces. And although subtle, the health and bio-security sectors, as well as customs, are important and crucial components of national security, one of the key national pillars of Vision 2050. The vision identifies border control agencies and security forces and the need to allocate funding and relevant infrastructure to ensure they function effectively. The CS is an important agency in internal national security.
Workplace morale is critical and is like the lubricating oil in the public service machinery. Being proactive is constantly oiling the machinery. The CS Commissioner did say that his proposals to recruit new officers were knocked back. Did he not present his case properly to the Personnel Management Department or was he just given the cold shoulder because CS was never on the radar for priority? I don’t know, but we have read a lot lately about morale being low at the CS and I hate to think this is linked to the escapes.
In the bio-security sector, we plan for contingency and rapid responses to counter infectious and contagious diseases’ incursions in plants, animals and even humans. The Government must be proactive and appropriate the resources as required and requested for. In the current times when development projects, like the LNG, present new dimensions of bio-security risk to PNG, and when climate change can play havoc on ecosystems, and when emerging and re-emerging diseases are occurring commonly, we need to be best prepared. Being proactive and being prepared comes before an anticipated event. Not as a reaction after the event.
It was well and good for the Chief Secretary to blast the public service machinery at the end of last year. It is also necessary for the Chief Secretary to ensure the central government agencies constantly oil the public service machinery and line agencies by looking into, and fixing, the factors that contribute to disintegration of workforce morale.
These factors include adequate manpower and resource allocations for various programmes, housing and basic welfare needs like medical covers for employees and declared dependents, school fee benefits for specially skilled personnel, staff and salaries restructure to cater for changing needs of society and various agencies’ mandates, review of the colonial legacy of dual salaries system, adequate institutional funding allocations according to programme-based budgetary submissions to cater for operational needs on the ground, relevant training and up-to-date facilities and technologies.
If the Government can release funds that easy when unforeseen circumstances arise, why not release the money when institutions ask for resources to prevent these unfortunate situations. You will also realise that the costs of prevention is far less than the costs of cure. It baffles me.