COMMENTARY by OSEAH PHILEMON
THE Government’s blueprint for national progress and development will be officially launched in Port Moresby today.
The Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 – officially called the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2010-50 – has been developed to guide the nation’s development towards becoming a “Smart, wise, vibrant and happy country by 2050”.
The launch of the plan comes at a time when the delivery of essential government services to the majority of the rural-based Papua New Guineans has collapsed and is in need of emergency resuscitation.
It comes at a time when serious questions are being raised about the impact of the district services improvement programme (DSIP) funds throughout the country.
DSIP funds are supposed to ensure improvements in the delivery of education, health, transport infrastructure, agriculture and law and order programmes in the districts.
The National Economic and Fiscal Commission (NEFC) headed by Dr Nao Badu has found clear evidence of the breakdown of the delivery of services in many provinces.
Money has been poured in but the results are not there to prove that development has and is taking place.
A lot of the money spent so far has been based on provincial and district five-year development plans. These are rolling plans that dictate the development of the districts and provinces over the course of five years.
The plans have also been linked to the Government’s medium term development strategy (MTDS) which sets the vision and goals for national development to 2010.
With the NSP now being launched – all district and provincial development plans will now have to be amended to ensure they are aligned with the broad objectives set out under the national vision.
Departmental and state organisations’ corporate plans will also need to be amended to bring them into line with the national plan.
It is important that the entire government machinery from national to district and local level government marches to the same tune – and not to different tunes.
The NSP is also a policy document of the Somare Government. It has no bipartisan support and stands to be changed if and when a new government takes office – if the new team does not agree with either the whole or parts of the plan.
The current Opposition in Parliament has not had any say in this vision and has said little.
Sir Mekere Morauta and Bart Philemon have been silent on it even though former prime minister and New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan – who is a senior member of the Opposition – attended the national leaders’ summit that looked at the NSP and the form of political structure needed to drive the vision.
There was word that the Government was going to introduce an organic law on the NSP to ensure it became part of the National Constitution so that it could not be changed easily at the whims of political leaders. Whatever the Government does is up to it.
However, one point needs to be made clear about the NSP and the vision it has portrayed to the people of Papua New Guinea.
Like all other plans and visions – this one is only as good as the financial support it receives from year to year over the next 40 years – to ensure that the vision of making PNG a “Smart, wise, vibrant and happy country by 2050” is achieved.
Today thousands of young people are pushed out of formal schooling every year unable to find employment and hope for a better future.
Do they have a part to play in achieving the new vision?
Or will they ever be beneficiaries of the new vision?
Many leave school at the age of 18 with a hopeless future. What will become of them over the next 40 years?
Today we hear and read so much about public funds going missing and not being spent to achieve the goals they were intended for.
The K230 million RESI funds intended to improve education infrastructure have been spent – on what, where and by whom?
The Government has skidded around this issue for a long time. It is time it explains exactly what has happened.
The illegal withdrawal of funds belonging to the Tewai-Siassi electorate by unknown persons using the banking system is the latest example in the disappearance of public funds intended for development in the country.
It concerns many well meaning PNG citizens that the Government system is so corrupt that money allocated for district and rural development can simply disappear or get redirected to other areas and not reach its intended destination.
If PNG Vision 2050 is to achieve its aims, then corruption must be weeded out immediately. The onus is on the Somare Government to make this happen.
Failure to do so will render Vision 2050 a useless document.