Remote districts need more funds

Editorial

IT is time for a change in policy relating to the distribution of district service improvement programme (DSIP) funds nationwide
All districts are given the same amount of DSIP funds.
However, all districts (mostly remote) are faced with unique challenges such as the cost of logistics and transportation.
In principle, this means the allocated K2 million can achieve a lot more in Port Moresby electorates, for example, where transportation and communication are of the best standards in the country than in say Menyamya (Morobe), Esa’ala (Milne Bay), North Fly (Western) or Angoram (East Sepik).
Every MP gets K2 million DSIP every year, not all of that goes to the road as they have to distribute to health, education, business, law and order.
MPs from remote districts and electorates over time have asked for a change to this giving special recognition and attention to remote and challenging districts so as not to allow blanket distribution of funds.
The cost of delivering a project in a district that is linked by road is different from those connected by other means.
Esa’ala consists of several islands and cost of service delivery is rather expensive, a massive challenge for the effective implementation of the DSIP on the island.
It also includes geographical features such as rugged high mountain ranges, long stretched river tributaries and colonies of beautiful atoll islands spread across the coast.
Menyamya too is quite remote with mountainous terrains and experience a lot of rainfall all year round.
The road from Bulolo to Menyamya is about 150km, rainfall is almost every day and with mountainous terrain.
If you want to seal the road K5 million per kilometre, you’re talking K500 million to get the road fixed.
PNC deputy party leader Richard Maru pointed out that the K2 million DSIP received by each MP annually was not sufficient for delivering infrastructures such as roads in a setting such as Menyamya.
The use of DSIP funds is also a yardstick to rate the performance of MPs in their term in Parliament.
Voters want to see their MPs based in the provinces/districts and provide the necessary support to their respective development authority and provincial assembly.
They should be there to administer, meaning to manage and direct the affairs of the districts and electorates.
Their election promises can be fulfilled if they work with fellow MPs from the province and to keep their feet firmly on the group in their respective electorates.
From reports in the media, a few of the sitting MPs have difficulty explaining why the large levels of DSIP funding have not achieved much in their electorates compared to other electorates who have done remarkably well.
The use of DSIP has always been a bone of argument for many.
The annual fund for districts, at one time K10 million and this year K2 million, is at the disposal of local MPs who use the money to build infrastructure and fund other projects in their electorates for the benefit of their constituents.
If service improvement programmes are to be continued in the future, these are challenges that future governments would have to seriously consider to achieve a more balanced rate of growth and development throughout the country.

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