MUCH of PNG’s development and advancement has been constantly hampered by the frequent compensation claim demands on the government, experienced throughout the country, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare said.
He also said that infrastructural development such as schools and aid-posts that cost millions of kina to build were constantly being burnt down, and rebuilding them costs millions.
Sir Michael said provincial administration headquarters that were burnt down also robbed Government of scarce resources that could be used elsewhere.
“When a natural disaster occurs, opportunists exploit these occasions and impose illegal fees on roads or claim compensation for something that is an act of God. This is disgraceful behaviour that we sadly seem to condone,” he said.
“We embrace our ‘rights’ in democracy but ignore the ‘responsibilities’ that come with these ‘rights’ … how have we shown responsibility for our actions after 34 years?”
He said vandalism was another drain on Government’s budget.
“New infrastructure that could have lasted another 20 years is being replaced too frequently. These include street lights, solar panels and fibre optics for communication lines.
“It is easy to point fingers at others but what are you doing to improve your country? What have you done in the past and what do you plan to do tomorrow?
“Similarly, we call for development in our rural areas. Government responded by inviting investors to establish industries in areas where subsistence farming has been the only means of income. But Government’s efforts to establish factories and bring in foreign exchange are being obstructed with opportunists that deprive their own people of alternative means of income.
“We are complaining of low income in areas where there are no formal income opportunities to begin with.
“Surely there must be some middle ground and commonsense. This brings me to the issue of rural unemployment. Subsistence farming is employment and should not be confused as unemployment.”
The Prime Minister said: “On our 34th anniversary, let’s not let loose talks distract us from the fact that we are indeed growing our economy and our rural people are contributing to this growth!”
Sir Michael acknowledged and thanked all Papua New Guineans “for your individual support and contribution on this long and challenging road that we have travelled”.
He also acknowledge the country’s forefathers that served as medical orderlies, labourers, catechists, early educators, policemen, soldiers, luluais and tultuls and servants “who paved the way for many of us to further what they had begun”.