Districts, LLGs must be accountable

Letters, Normal

The National, Tuesday 12th February, 2013

IN PNG, more than 80% of the people live in rural areas with little or no go­vernment services.
With two new provin­ces in the highlands, PNG now has 22 provinces, 89 districts, 313 local level governments (LLGs) and 6,131 wards.
Rural development in PNG is a major concern for many public administrators and policy planners.
The planning and re­source programming of these remote districts and LLGs have become
a considerable challenge for policy makers as well as many service delivery agencies.
The 1996 reforms to the Organic Law on Pro­vincial Governments and Local Level Governments (OLPLLG) were significant in relation to the decentralisation of public administration to the district level in the hope of improved service delivery.
The national goals un­der the Constitution pro­vide for equal development for every individual and society.
An on-going reform process is expected to simplify administrative arrangements, increase ac­countability and ensure that funds are spent where they are most needed.
It is also essential that any reform process is carefully monitored to de­tect improvement or change.
However, how well these rural development plans are implemented will depend on the leadership at various levels of provincial and district governments.
Leaders and managers must be qualified and properly trained in pro­-ject planning, adminis­trative management and financial accountability.
The government be­lieves that key services can be better delivered by sectors that are closest to its people, but to hand money to the districts comes with a substantial amount of risk.
Experts are needed at all levels of the districts from project management to good governance, policy planning and financial accountability.
This will ensure the government better understands the unique needs
of each district, focus on areas most in need and identify areas for im­provement, change or development.
However, the political implications can be de­vastating with the current functions and responsibilities of joint district planning and budget priorities committee.
There is an urgent need for the government to se­parate the development bud­get functions and res­ponsibilities from all ap­propriations of these po­litically-driven committees and the open MPs.
The danger with these committees is that the MPs are in charge and  have direct control over district administrators and treasurers when it comes to spending go­vernment funding and district budget appropriations.
Planning implications can also be devastating when ad hoc approaches are applied.
They not only become destructive for properly planned rural development pathways but are likely to cause a complete misuse of public funds, uneven resource programming, disharmony and social disorder in service deliveries.

King Pedro
Via email