The National, Monday February 8th, 2016
THE National Executive Council’s decision last Thursday to appoint Isaac Lupari as new Chief Secretary puts to rest the anxiety over a successor to the retiring Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc.
Sir Manasupe, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, had his term extended by another six months last August to give the O’Neill Government time to look for a suitable replacement.
He will step down on Thursday (Feb 11) to end what has been an illustrious public service career spanning 30 years.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, in announcing Lupari’s appointment yesterday, also thanked Sir Manasupe for his leadership of the public service. “Leaders of the caliber of Sir Manasupe are rare and it has been an honour to work with this outstanding Papua New Guinean.”
Lupari, who has been Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office since 2012, will be strategically placed to ensure the Government’s policy initiatives and programmes are fully implemented in this critical period leading to the 2017 general elections.
Lupari, 51, from Wabag in Enga, is no newcomer to the job, having been Chief Secretary from 2007-2009, and a career public servant since 1987.
He has also served as secretary for the departments of Finance, Defence and Personnel Management as well as PNG Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.
Lupari holds a master’s degree in economics and is well respected in government and private sector circles. He was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen for public service.
Humbled by his new appointment, Lupari says that bringing the public service “monster” under control will be his greatest challenge.
“My message to all leaders, at all levels, to work together to trim this monster that we’ve created – a monster that is ineffective and dysfunctional,” he told The National yesterday. “We are carrying a lot of weight but unable to deliver, it’s dysfunctional.”
Indeed, the country’s next top bureaucrat cannot afford to rest on his laurels, the main reason being that he is required by the political leadership to deliver their policy initiatives and programmes over this critical period before the elections.
Nonetheless, Lupari is well known for his no-nonsense approach and ability to achieve results.
As the Prime Minister says of his outgoing Chief of Staff, Lupari has the experience and capability that is needed to guide Government in the face of a challenging global environment, and to advance reforms implemented by outgoing Chief Secretary.
“The Chief Secretary to Government is the most important position in our public service, and Ambassador Lupari will be instrumental in taking the Government to the next level in a changing global economy,” O’Neill said.
“Ambassador Lupari has served diligently as the Chief of Staff of the Office of Prime Minister and is a previous Chief Secretary.
“Our country, like many other commodity exporting nations, has to deal with a number of challengers and we need ongoing strong leadership in the Government bureaucracy.
“We need strong and capable management in our public service and Ambassador Lupari will lead by example.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure the ongoing delivery of services to our people, and Ambassador Lupari’s appointment will serve the nation in that capacity.”
Moreover, the O’Neill Government’s performance over the next 17 months will be judged by the effectiveness of the public service implementation of key policy initiatives, including the free education and healthcare programmes. It is therefore imperative that the Chief Secretary walk the Prime Minister’s talk and ensure the bureaucracy delivers the goods and services that our people, especially the rural majority, need to improve their livelihoods.
Papua New Guinea may be regarded as a lucky country in terms of its rich and bountiful natural resources but most of its citizens are illiterate, lack proper healthcare and live just above the poverty level.
For the first time since independence, the O’Neill Government has made significant inroads in addressing these issues but much remains to be done.
Prime Minister O’Neill makes no secret of his wish for another term to fully realise his key policy initiatives and programmes.
The onus is on his new Chief Secretary to take his Government to the next level.