Remote districts deserve more

Editorial

DISTRICTS in remote areas deserve extra attention.
They deserve to be given more development funding.
The 89 districts are allocated K10 million each for their district improvement programme funding, irrespective of their location and the geographical terrain they have to deal with.
There is nothing extra given to the MP from a district with hard-to-reach areas such as Telefomin in West Sepik, Goilala in Central and Menyamya in Morobe.
They receive the same funding as, for example, the MP from Lae, Kokopo and Mt Hagen.
It makes sense therefore that districts in the most remote areas should be given extra as they have to spend more to provide public services to the people who, one can safely assume, pay the same rate of taxes as anyone else.
Those who are at a disadvantage through no fault of their own deserve to be treated in a fairer and equitable manner.
We have been hearing that plea for years by MPs from the remote districts.
Roads are vital to allow development – of infrastructure especially – to take place.
Building roads and bridges to the remote villages and hamlets is a colossal undertaking for any MP.
The roads have to cross fast-flowing rivers, go through jungles and mountains.
Thus the K10 million will be so stretched the MP will not meet the cost from that K10 million alone, let alone the other development agendas drawn up by the District Development Authority.
The MP cannot ignore the importance of roads to provide services to everyone.
There is hope in what the Department of Implementation and Rural Development is working on at the moment called the equalisation programme to ensure a fair distribution of funds to least developed districts.
Acting Secretary Aihi Vaki himself is on the same wavelength. He believes that the least developed districts should get a little bit more funding than the urban districts.
It’s reassuring to hearl.
Vaki is even encouraging the 89 district MPs and the 22 governors to come and discuss their problems so that solutions can be worked out.
He says the “department is here for you all. I will work closely with the administrators. Please fill free to come to this office so we work together”.
He has opened the door.
The K10 million allocated to each district will satisfy only some districts, especially those where infrastructure is more developed and services more accessible to the average citizen.
It is like giving K10 each to four people for their bus fares home, irrespective of how far each will travel.
MPs and their district authorities should draw up development plans listing new projects badly needed to lift the living standards of their people, and send them to the department to justify the need for extra funding.
Of course the department will insist on the importance of providing acquittals.
The department should also send officials to inspect the projects on the ground.
That way everything is above board and transparent.
The department is happy, the MP is happy, and most importantly, the people are happy that they are at last enjoying the government services intended for all citizens.
The last thing the country wants to see is parts of the nation progressing at a faster pace than the others.
There are some people enjoying the cream of government services while others remain stuck in their hamlets somewhere in the jungle.
All citizens deserve to be treated as equals.

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