Time to buck up or ship out

Editorial, Normal

The National,Wednesday 17th April, 2013

 TIME and again we get a loud statement from a mi­nister or a senior public servant voicing displeasure over affairs in his or her immediate areas of responsibility.

A former health secretary had the audacity to call on the “government” to prepare the new Hela province’s health facilities when it is clear it is the department’s function to do so.

If he is trying to reveal that such planning has not been factored in the budget, then whose responsibility it is to make budget submissions?

We would rather he lobbied long and hard with his minister and with other members of cabinet to put in the important case for health not just in Hela but throughout the country.

In another case, a very senior minister in the previous Somare government blasted the nameless, faceless “government” for giving him a mere K30 million when he had asked for K300 million.

Again the obvious question is who is this “government” if a minister is not part of it.

This sort of buck-passing has been going on for a long time. 

We must be clear – ministers and departmental heads comprise the executive government of the day.

If they make public statements knocking certain policy or programmes, essentially they are confessing publicly to their own incompetence. 

The public statement should accompany the person’s resignation from the job. 

That certainly would be the case elsewhere.

What is this entity called the “government” that so many individuals so very clearly within it want to come to their aid?

Either these individuals are trying to hoodwink the public or they themselves clearly have no appreciation whatsoever of just what government and governance are.

A fair definition of and appreciation of what government is seems to be lacking and is needed.

Govern means to rule over the affairs of a certain group within a defined border. Government is the concept of that rule.

It certainly does not mean that those in government must not express their displeasure at certain budgetary allocations or policy priorities and programmes.

In an ideal world, these are expressed at party caucuses, government caucuses and even in cabinet.

Once these matters are thrashed out, the government faces the public in a united position.

Unfortunately, this is the democratic government system PNG has adopted, with its imperfections.

Constant complaints by those holding key positions in government against go­vernment erodes its credibi­lity.

“If those in government are complaining, then something must be seriously wrong in government” goes the thought in the minds of common folk. 

You really cannot blame them, can you?

Solidarity and confidentiality of cabinet is compromised. 

Just what constitutes fair comment and what is reve­lation of important government decision-making processes?

The government must struggle to aim for that day when it speaks with one voice, with one vision, one mission and one voice.

Rather dangerous sounding that, but in the present situation of a cacophony of voices, confusion and misinformation can sometimes derail important government programmes.