By Miriam Zarriga of the PNG Post-Courier in Port Moresby
Prime Minister James Marape delivered a shock yesterday when he announced his full cabinet, with coffee, oil palm and livestock — three of PNG’s traditional cash crops — getting their own ministries.
The separate portfolios were created from what used to be the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry in the 32-man cabinet Marape appointed yesterday.
The line-up had several notable omissions, while a few raised eyebrows like the appointment of Richard Maru, leader of the People First Party, as International Trade Minister.
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It is too early to say whether the appointments have gone down well with everyone in the government ranks, however.
In the line-up yesterday, Pangu bagged much of the portfolios, followed by United Resources Party with five, while the United Labour Party and the PNG National Party were the obvious ones left out.
“We have broken up several ministries into smaller ministries to ensure accountability to deliver in relation to the budget.
“We have joined the transport sector with Civil Aviation, and police and CS are now part of one ministry,” Marape said.
Foreign affairs, trade separated
“Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Investment have been separated into two different ministries, now we have Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry for International Trade and Investment.”
“We have carefully extracted international investment and trade and built emphasis around its importance by creating a separate ministry that is responsible for it. Investment and trade are the backbone of domestic production. One cannot exist without the other.
“The appointments specifically spotlight agriculture in a very significant way. It is the strongest emphasis yet, by any government, in agriculture growth in the country. It again shows that the government is willing to do what it takes to meet the full expectations of our people in agriculture.
“Agriculture is where the government can have the greatest impact in terms of the population of this country, because the bulk of our people are subsistence farmers. We have land, so we must encourage our people to go into agriculture production.
“In one swift action we now have a Minister for Livestock, Minister for Coffee, Minister for Palm Oil, and the main agriculture Minister.
“We are placing very strong emphasis on the subsectors that will have the greatest impact for our people. We are going to set targets and these specific ministers will be required to take specific action to ensure that their subsectors meet their targets. There is no mistaking what our focus is on this government.”
Marape said his cabinet fairly reflected experience, continuity, and regional balance.
He has chosen carefully from a pool of talented and capable leaders in government, and the appointments reflect competence and ability.
All four regions are represented in cabinet with 10 MPs — including Marape — from the Highlands region, 10 MPs from Mamose, six from New Guinea Islands and six from the Southern region.
Miriam Zarriga is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.