SIR Mekere was instrumental in setting up the key institutional processes of decision making under Cabinet, which included the budget priorities committee and the national planning committee.
These proved fundamental to the mainly happy co-existence of policy and policies for about 15 years after Independence.
Sir Mekere was at his best in convincing our leaders in Cabinet then, of the need to appreciate the nexus between policy and politics, that very tenuous balance in stable management of our macroeconomic policies.
He did this with his calm almost disarming demeanour.
It was during the budget session which often went late into the night, that one or two ministers could get quite tempestuous.
After one such occasion in the Cabinet room, we retired to my office on the ground floor of the Central Government Office, where Immigration and Citizenship Authority is located now, and I saw Sir Mekere’s sense of exasperation as he declared that this maybe the beginning of the end of our fiscal policy discipline.
Sir Mekere’s ominous warning all those years ago still rings loud and clear, in his words “macroeconomic management is all about massaging fiscal policy and monetary policy to stay the course”.
His path took him to parliament, it was gratifying to watch him bring his technocratic and policy making skills and experience into the political arena.
When he became PM he tried very hard to steer PNG back on a course to re-establish fiscal and monetary policy discipline and stability.
He recognised the need for political stability.
Sir Mekere’s leadership saw the passage of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates, and this provided some relief at the time but now seems to be floundering once again.
The significance of his reforms cannot be overstated, indeed integrity is the one word that perhaps best describes Sir Mekere’s lasting legacy.
Sir Charles Lepani