THE Member for Nawaeb, Timothy Bonga, is concerned about the slow growth of agriculture in the Morobe province.
He wants the National Development Bank to allocate more funds to the province so that farmers can borrow to expand or start new farms whether in cocoa, coffee, chicken, cattle or other agricultural sectors.
Mr Bonga is right. Morobe is a large province with huge agricultural potential that remains virtually untapped. Many other provinces also have potential for large-scale agriculture developments that remain hugely untapped.
The Government keeps saying that agriculture is the backbone of the Papua New Guinea economy.
That is why Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare went to Kimbe and declared his new vision for agricultural development which he called “Green Revolution” to propel agriculture into a new era.
But after this hot air, nothing happened.
Then he went to Lae and launched his Government’s blueprint for agricultural development, which they call the national agriculture development plan (NADP) with an annual budgetary allocation of K100 million to boost agriculture production throughout Papua New Guinea.
But where is the money?
Farmers everywhere are asking the same question: where is the money?
So far, K300 million has been allocated under the plan for disbursement through the country. But where is the money? Who has the money?
Chicken farmers in Morobe want more money to expand and develop new farms but they cannot have access to funds. Cattle farmers, cocoa and coffee growers and others also want money from the plan but they cannot get any.
The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock John Hickey is the man who knows the answer. But where is he? He is nowhere to be found.
Wherever he is, Mr Hickey must come out and tell the people of PNG where their money is.
If he cannot, then the Prime Minister should sack him and appoint a new minister.
Mr Hickey has failed in his job as the nation’s Minister for Agriculture and Livestock. He is not capable of providing the political leadership that is needed to drive the nation’s agriculture policy.
We call for the immediate sacking of Mr Hickey if the NADP is to have any impact at all on the country’s development.
Funds for NADP were initially parked under the Department of Agriculture and Livestock but were later moved to the Department of National Planning because Mr Hickey and his department were ineffective in implementing it.
In national planning, nothing happened. So the funds were transferred back to DAL and Mr Hickey. But still nothing is happening.
The whole nation is now waiting on the Prime Minister to move things along. If he does not sack Mr Hickey, he will lose credibility and the respect of the farmers and growers throughout PNG.
Perhaps it is time for a complete overhaul of Cabinet to weed out ineffective, non-performing ministers and appoint others who have the energy, the vision and drive to move the nation forward.
Sir Michael should have nothing to fear. The nation is with him. Agriculture and Livestock and National Planning should be among the first ministries to have new ministers. These are very important ministries which require top performers to set the political agenda and drive it forward for the sake of PNG.
Cowboys who occupy ministerial positions and use their positions to go tripping around the world at the expense of taxpayers, and their colleagues who only frustrate the development process of the nation, do not deserve to hold on to their present ministerial posts till 2012.
It is time for them to go now. We say to the Prime Minister – it is time you put your foot down and sack your unproductive ministers.
If you want to leave the nation in a good shape when you retire in 2012, then now is the time to put together a team of energetic, visionary and hard working ministers who will drive your policies to move this country forward to the next decade.
The year 2010 marks the end of the first decade of the new millennium. With it comes the national strategic development plan for the next 40 years.
That strategy cannot be achieved by a bunch of ministers who have run out of steam, who could not care less about the nation, who put their own interests before the nation’s interests, who have lost their vision for the nation and who are only collecting their pay and allowances from the National Parliament.
We don’t need them.
* Oseah Philemon is The National’s Regional Editor based in Lae