Marape’s dream

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PRIME Minister James Marape is getting up and close with Papua New Guineans by sending messages through social media – Facebook.
He highlighted the target of being economically self-sufficient.
Eighteen days after assuming office as the chief executive officer of the country, he preferred to make off-the-cuff statements which were consistent and coherent with the views of many of his compatriots serving in Parliament with him and many outside.
“Some public servants and other politicians may find offensive or unachievable and that’s your mindset, but I have elevated the level of imagination to the highest any leader can dream of for his country and I am willing to travel that road.
“Dreams are free, I have dreamt it, but work of reconstruction must start now.”
On his page, he wrote: “The nation is blessed with minerals, oil and gas, forestry, agriculture potentials, marine and aquaculture potentials, culture and tourism, water, our strategic location in between eastern economies and western economies and many other intrinsic God-given resources we have in this motherland.
The manner of harvest of these resources under better term will be my journey and story.
This journey hopefully will lead our country to the destination our children deserve.
“The destination in 2030 should be a nation in which people are economically self-sufficient, where best medicine and medical practices are available to all our people, where every children have equal opportunities in education and employment, where police and law and justice sector are working firmly and fairly and our girls and mothers and everyone is safe always, where religious freedom is abound, where digital innovations drive our education, medication and economy, all parts of our country are connected by top-class public infrastructures like roads, ports and airports.
“All these and many more are achievable if I and all who are with me in public service today, put forth collective efforts and stay the course.
“To get there, the following are few things off my head I am putting forward that we intend to do, and I require all of you, who want to lead public service organisations under my watch, to dissect and advise me on your sector strategies going forward from 2020 to 2030.
I have proposed a two-pronged approach, hence I have divided the cabinet into two inter-working sectors, the economic and social sectors intervention.
Economic sector interventions
“Some key benchmarks the Treasurer (Sam Basil) and I will co-lead as we seek to reconstruct our economy for the better.
Key economic benchmarks and tasks to undertake includes:

  • Re-assessment of the 2019 budget and deliver state of economy statistics to ensure our budget for the rest of 2019 and going forward is anchored on solid achievable numbers;
  • make redundant lesser priority areas in budget, including taking control of salary overrun and office rental expenditures;
  • stop non-economic stimulant programmes, including loans to projects of insignificance;
  • ramp up access to international grant facilities already open to PNG like the EUs and other global grants available as well as drawing down on productive loans already secured;
  • do a forensic audit into all levels of companies operating in the country to ensure they are all tax and fees compliant;
  • all resource projects coming up for reviews to be negotiated with the view to gain now for our country with no more concessions, tax deductions or wavering of fees etc; and,
  • Promulgation of policies and legislations to ensure downstream processing of our natural resources be given highest order of priority and all resources companies in all sectors that want to participate in harvest of our resources must come up with clearer and quicker ways to do downstream processing. Gone are the days when someone was telling us you can’t do gold bullion in the country or you can’t process timber in the country or we can’t have petro chemical industries in the country, or we can’t grow rice and cattle in the country. (These) are some examples of adding value to our resources.

Prime Minister James Marape meeting with EU resident representative Ioannis Giokarakis Argyropoulos in Port Moresby recently.
– Picture courtesy of Prime Minister’s media unit.

“I am looking at possibilities of auctioning some of our resources that will be freed up soon so the best proponents of net take-back for PNG become our partners in resource harvest and for starters, in Porgera and Ramu mines reviews coming up this year. I am looking at greater tax and equity take for PNG (including PGs and LOs).
“Clearer dividend policies for our SOE and no entrapment of money in SOEs with priority diagnosis into their books as matter of priority;
“Apart from other policies and economic programmes, we will further embrace, above are few that comes to my mind as I write early to pass this message to you all, especially our key public servant leaders, to better appreciate my mind. To our companies in PNG, you do not need to fear, just honour our lawful directions and you will be okay.
“If our country and our citizens are happy and wealthy and self-sustaining, your businesses too will grow from this healthy and business-conducive environment. In my experiences as finance minister for almost seven years,
“I am of the view that we need to lift our cash revenue threshold to over K15 billion mark in the next two years and beyond to deliver positively into the development plans of 2020s that can positively impact our country for the better, unlike the last few years when actual cash collection did not surpass K10 billion.
Social sector interventions
“To ensure that our economic reforms and windfalls are secured for the betterment of our country, I have tasked our Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven to take charge of what I term as internal security matters.
The security of our country and our economy depends on an appropriately educated population, a healthy and wealthy population that is productive and law-abiding.
This will mean we undertake the following:

  • Fight systematic wastage through corruption and complacency;
  • reconstruct key corruption-fighting institutions of State like police and magisterial/judicial services, Ombudsman etc; and,
  • affirmative progression of Whistle-blowers Act as well as Independent Commission Against Corruption (need to ascertain their role and other similar organisations like police prosecutors and ombudsman so there are no functional duplication and for ease and efficiency of mandate);
  • our education system must expand with space for all children in our country without compromising quality interventions. We are splitting elementary, primary and secondary into the care of the Minister for Education and free education will continue. We anticipate to have no child leaving school until after year 12, we want to deliver this in the next 10 years.
  • our colleges are now moved into the care of Minister for Tertiary Education. In the next 10 years we want to create more than 30,000 tertiary education spaces and I have a game plan for this. I will work with Minister for Tertiary Education to deliver. As a government, we will put an endowment fund for students and parents to borrow from to pay students’ school fees that will be an almost interest free loan scheme;’
  • each of the 22 provinces must have fully functional, modern healthcare and our key regional hospitals to acquire specialised care status to treat cancers and other special healthcare needs. Again, we want to achieve world-class status in the healthcare sector, it is within people’s rights; and,
  • Good policing of our laws where mothers and daughters and society are safe and secure. It is what we want to achieve in 10 years too.

“When our borders are secured through the above and other social sector programmes will we improve from the gains of our economy.
“Before I complete my statement of intent (what I intend to do), may I mention our friends from Bougainville.
“While my cabinet and departments are running other work, we will all be on standby to assist in referendum preparations as well as reconstruction of Bougainville now and into the future.
“My Pangu Party will entail and expand version of what I have expounded here.
“In the next few weeks we will be working with ministers and their respective departments to tidy up on these directions plus their own policy views so that we deliver better to our country and our people.”