What are we celebrating?


WHAT is the achievement that Papua New Guinea (PNG) is going to celebrate on its 46th Independence Anniversary tomorrow?
The country is among the lowest in the world in terms of development.
I can only think of failures by the authorities, which have resulted in our people suffering.
We should all bury our heads in sorrow for the bad decisions we’ve made as a country.
After more than 40 years, we have found ourselves lagging in terms of development because of bad decisions and poor management.
We are not benefiting meaningfully from our resources such as the liquified natural gas (LNG).
Our resources which were supposed to help alleviate poverty and provide the much-needed finance for our development have been hijacked multinational companies who have taken advantage of our lack of knowledge, skills and foresight on the part of our leadership, who have failed to negotiate better deals for us.
We are not able to enjoy the benefits of our resources when foreign companies can easily dictate terms because of corruption and greed.
Take the PNG LNG project for example.
A significant amount of revenue is taken out of the country by the so-called foreign investors while the Government is settling for lesser amounts.
Under the Oil and Gas Act, the host government is to retain 22 per cent of all petroleum projects undertaken in the country.
However, for some unknown reasons, this is not the case for the PNG LNG.
This is a breach of our law.
We’re allowing foreign companies to breach our laws right in front of our people.
One of the biggest opportunities for PNG to become financially independent have been mishandled.
It remains a missed opportunity.
The dream project that was to bail PNG out of its financial woes and alleviate poverty has now become a lost treasure and another of the missed opportunities.
So, what’s the point of us using scarce resources and money to celebrate our failures and stupidity on Independence Day?
It is up to the next generation of leaders to learn from past mistakes and try to do better.
With Prime Minister James Marape leading our next generation of leaders, there is hope that things will change.
The challenge is for Marape and the Government to turn things around. We have the answers to our problems, but we are not able to do anything about them.
The Government should start with the resource projects and review all existing project arrangements in terms of timber, gold, copper and minerals, oil, gas, LNG and fisheries.
We should work towards getting better deals out of our resources.
The Government should review imports and put a stop to importing cheap goods that is killing our manufacturing industry.
Invest more in agriculture and get people to be active in it.
Agriculture presents many employment and business opportunities for our people.
Until we take serious measures to work towards bettering our country, I don’t see why we should celebrate Independence.

Sekinowo Sawala

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