Good idea to relocate depts,agencies


FORMER Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced in Jiwaka last week that a Government his People’s National Congress led would station both the National Development Bank (NDB) and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) in the province.
He would rename the NDB as the SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) and Farmers Bank and make it a fully-fledged retail bank catering for the farmers and small business customers.
It is an idea worth serious exploration, not the specific location chosen – Jiwaka – but the idea of bringing government departments and agencies out to the provinces.
It makes absolute sense to bring service departments to where they are closest to the people where their services are needed most.
A counter argument might run that Jiwaka is out of the way for farmers and small business from other provinces around the country and that a central place like Port Moresby is cheaper and convenient for all.
There are far better reasons which in the long run cancel this line of reasoning and provide for robust and equal development throughout the provinces, heretofore absent since Independence.
If the NDB and the DAL were relocated to Jiwaka, it would mean there would be a lot of traffic into and out of Jiwaka by business persons, creating good business opportunities for local businesses in the province.
More salaried and trained personnel from the bank and the department would be operating from the province, also providing a sustained income for markets, supermarkets and other businesses.
And of course local SMEs and farmers would benefit from the proximity of the bank and the department.
Now multiply this experience by eight departments being moved to eight different provinces.
The excitement and business created in those provinces would be instantaneous.
The provinces would take ownership of their departments and would ensure their people are trained and specialised in the field of expertise of the department posted in their province.
Attention would be taken away from Port Moresby and distributed throughout the country.
Aircraft and shipping movements would not terminate as they do now in Port Moresby or Lae.
Traffic movement would now be shared with these other provinces to cater for the movement of people and cargo.
Port Moresby’s burgeoning population and settlement explosion might be stymied through this intervention.
Lae has grown into a major city despite a problematic sea port with perennial silt build-up from the nearby Markham River because it has been long recognised as the industrial capital of PNG.
Most industries are located there so it makes sense to have a large seaport there and so despite the huge cost of dredging, Lae Port has continued to exist and now the tidal basin and new port infrastructure has been created at tremendous cost mostly because it would be far costlier to relocate the industries to a town with a far better sea port like Madang.
The stationing of departments in different provinces will attract their goods and services providers to likewise relocate to the provinces to be near the departments, thereby increasing the business population and the spending power in each province.
This would see the beginning of a new and exciting era in Papua New Guinea where each of those provinces become growth centres with these major departments playing a pivotal role, not by directly managing the socio-economic development of the province, but indirectly through the increased business and traffic of persons that they introduce.