PAPUA New Guinea is behind the smaller Pacific Island countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“This is a paradox given the country is rich in natural resources,” regional director for the United Nation’s Millennium Campaign for Asia and the Pacific, Minar Pimple, said in Port Moresby last week during a meeting with civil society leaders.
“Papua New Guinea is so rich and has the highest level of resources in the Pacific. Yet, it is lagging severely in achieving most of the MDGs.
“This is unacceptable and needs and can be changed.”
The MDG is an eight-point road map prioritising issues of hunger and poverty, primary education, infant and child health, maternal health, gender equality, HIV/ AIDS and environmental protection.
It also addresses the urgent need for rich countries to improve the quantity and quality of aid to poor countries.
For PNG, Mr Pimple said the problem was not lack of resources but lack of political will and national leadership, inadequate budgetary allocation for MDGs and seepages and leakages in service delivery systems.
“Urgently addressing these issues would be key to achieving the MDGs,” he said.
Mr Pimple said citizens engagement was also important in reminding the Government of its commitments and he commended civil society organisations and churches, who had began organising themselves to work together with the Government to improve the country’s progress.
While in the country Mr Pimple also met with the MDG Core Group at the Department of Planning during which he stressed the importance of the MDGs Global Review Summit to be held in New York from Sept 20-22.
“This is a very important meeting to be attended by heads of governments which, in PNG’s case is the Prime Minister.
“The summit provides a good opportunity for PNG to take stock of progress and recommit towards accelerated action to achieve the global targets,” he said.
“The MDGs are based on human rights and are in line with PNG’s Constitution. They are minimum goals that PNG can give to its poor.
“To not achieve the MDGs, or the national targets which, PNG also appears unlikely to deliver at current trends would be morally wrong and unacceptable.
“The Government must, therefore, give the MDGs top priority in ensuring the Medium Term Development Plan and future budgets are aligned with MDGs and all obstacles to effective delivery are removed.”