Govt putting into priority areas but . . .

National, Normal


THE Government is allocating funds to priority areas but the mechanism it chooses are often barely or non-functional, according to the Institute of National Affairs director Paul Barker.
“For example under the district service improvement programme (DSIP), the lack of planning and administrative capacity at the district level, the mechanism which remains prone to abuse in many constituencies,” he said.
Mr Barker said the Government was allocating money to where the priorities were, in principle, such as with last year’s reform to provincial and local level financing and increased district funding.
“Likewise, the police support programme, following the police review of 2004, lacks credible funding, implementation or monitoring,” he said. 
Mr Barker said the increased revenue and firm fiscal restraint, applied at least in the earlier years of the current government, “allowed increased allocations to the MTDS (and MDG) priorities, including infrastructure restoration and development and some essential services”.
He said: “In any case, PNG has set aside large sums during the boom years which are now available from trust funds to utilise this year and next year when revenue from corporate tax and trading are down.
“What is critical is that the Government ensures that these trust funds are released steadily, upon genuine priorities and with assistance from its development partners,” Mr Barker said.
He said real efforts must be applied to improve the machinery of government and implementation, including the use of public-private partnerships.
Mr Barker said at a time of rising fiscal pressure, the Government must transfer allocations from less productive expenditure to core needs.
“Even proceeding, for example, to resell its luxury aircraft,” he said.
“Support for district planning and administration are needed, but with close supervision and public transparency of the DSIP required to ensure its effectiveness.”
Mr Barker said these were the core funds available to districts, and must not be spent on a set of low priority or unsustainable projects, or be misapplied.