PAPUA New Guinea will now be able to commit PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) soldiers for international peace keeping duties.
The Government would also be able to reintroduce its youth and school cadet programmes directed towards nation building and national security.
These were part of major reforms happening throughout the PNGDF and were endorsed yesterday when Parliament passed the PNGDF Amendment Bill 2008.
Defence Minister and Western province governor Bob Dadae, said since 1996, a number of National Executive Council decisions had called for the complete restructuring of the PNGDF.
Particularly so for the 1999 Defence White Paper.
Mr Dadae said these decisions, while avoiding serious legal, operational and administrative implications, aimed to turn the PNGDF into a small but professional and affordable force that was flexible and responsive to meet all its stakeholders’ needs.
He said the PNGDF had gone from being a premier institution to one that was now marked by dilapidated buildings and low morale and it was so because previous governments had not been able to adopt a structure for reform.
Mr Dadae said the amended Act would allow the PNGDF to continue its building and maintenance programme which is being implemented throughout the country and at the same time adopt a new concept payroll system.
PNGDF will also engage the service of a consultant to review the pay grade system and organisational structures that not only conform to the concept payroll system but more importantly addresses the effects
of the market forces on military people’s capabilities.
The amendments also offers a better and more effective command and control of the PNGDF’s scarce resources while at the same time maximising its benefits to all stakeholders, he said.
Mr Dadae said there were real tangible benefits from the reform plan.
He said although it may be slow and painful to achieve the outcome, the country needed to be patient and tolerant of the negative forces against the changes for improvement and must not lose sight of long term benefits that would be attained.
“In fact we have failed to pass these amendments over the last five years.
“Since 2004 we have lost the opportunity and time to prove the structure or even test this new plan to see if it works.
“Thus while we continue to argue, we still remain to hold our doubts.
“Therefore let us pass it and give ourselves the practical experience on the strengths and weaknesses, if any, so that we may have a real benchmark to test the pros and cons of the structure and propose any amendments if necessary in the near future,” Mr Dadae said.