The National- Tuesday, January 11, 2011
By ELIZABETH VUVU
THE government must work with the Electoral Commission to redistribute district boundaries in East New Britain to help in equal sharing of resources and costs and alleviate land issues says Deputy Governor Boniface Setavo.
Responding to Member for Gazelle Malakai Tabar’s concern that the Gazelle district was overpopulated, he said district and local level government boundaries needed to be reviewed and realigned so at least the population was equally shared to help distribution of costs.
It was said that Gazelle district is the third biggest district in PNG after Maprik and a district in Western Highlands with a population of over 120,000 people and was still growing.
Tabar said the highest population growth rates in ENB were caused by families in Gazelle making up half of ENB and the other three districts Kokopo, Pomio and Rabaul making up the other half.
Gazelle was also responsible for eight wards in Kokopo, two from Rabaul and another two from Pomio.
“Yet such a large district is appropriated the same amount of funding as the three other districts and share of developmental monies per person in Gazelle is 90% less than that of the other three districts being K40 per person as compared to just over K400 per person in the other three districts.”
Tabar said the twin volcanic eruptions in 1994 had caused movement of people from Rabaul thus reducing the number of people in Rabaul.
However these displaced people had the right to benefit from developmental funding through government appropriations.
He said the district would continue to play host to a lot of people and coupled with natural growths through births, the population was growing at a staggering 3.75% per annum.
Setavo advised Tabar to raise this issue in parliament; and the provincial government could raise this issue through provincial electoral boundaries review.
He said land was also another issue in ENB and the provincial government through its land mobilsation policy emphasised freeing up land for development.
He said it was not easy task for the provincial government to acquire land from Baining and Pomio areas and allocate it to the displaced or landless people.
Setavo said the Qaqet people of Baining could free up land for development but they too were also worried about the future.
He highlighted a positive negotiation between the provincial government and the Catholic church on land at Putput area which the government hopes to purchase and push development down to Pomio.
This the government believes would free up land and that would be subdivided for landless people from all over the province.