PNG corruption – ‘Our people think MPs are automatic teller machines’

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PNG anti-corruption drive
Rampant corruption ... hindering Papua New Guinea's development. Image: PNG Transparency International

EDITORIAL: PNG Post-Courier

Are the voters responsible for the corruption in the country?

Papua New Guinea’s Health Minister and Member for Wabag, Dr Lino Tom, seems to think so and he is partly right in his public statement on the matter in the PNG Post-Courier last month.

Unlike in the past, when our people were more self-reliant and attended to their own problems or meet every community obligation on their own, the generation today vote in their Members of Parliament to fix their personal problems and not the country.
And that’s a fact.

PNG POST-COURIER
PNG POST-COURIER

Our people think that their MPs are automatic teller machines (ATMs), like the ones deployed by the commercial banks that dispatches cash on demand that they have abandoned our honourable and historical self-reliant way of life.

We agree with our Health Minister that MPs spend too much time and resources managing their voters than on projects and programmes in their electorates for public benefit and development of the country.

The office occupied by MPs does not restrict them to electoral duties only, but as legislators they also have a country to run, and their performances are badly affected when their time is taken up by minute matters from their voters.

On the flip side, the MPs have themselves to blame for creating the culture they are dealing with in the contemporary PNG we are living in.

The structural and legislative reforms to the governance and accountability mechanisms in the public service, combined with the funding of key government programmes that they themselves initiated for self-preservation, is fueling this culture of corruption.

Thus, the blame for corruption must be shared by the politicians too because they are in control of so much money that is going into the districts right now.

The root of corruption in PNG 28Apr23
The root of corruption . . . “The blame for corruption must be shared by the politicians too because they are in control of so much money that is going into the districts right now.” Image: PNG Post-Courier screenshot APR

For instance, the District Development Authority (DDA), the District Service Improvement Programme (DSIP) and the Provincial Service Improvement Programme (PSIP) are all scams that have directly contributed to the unprecedented rise in the expectations and demands from the voters.

Under the DSIP and PSIP alone, K2.4 billion is channeled to the districts every year, controlled by the both the provincial governors and the open electorate members. That is a lot of cash. How else do you expect our people to behave?

Corruption is a very serious challenge confronting PNG at the moment and we agree with our good minister that our people must stop placing these demands on their MPs. Our people must return to our old ways and that is to work hard to enjoy better lives and meet our life goals.

However, to totally rid corruption in the public sector, we also have to abolish all government programmes that legitimise corruption.

In the current situation, the people are colluding with their Members of Parliament to plunder this nation of its hard-earned cash without putting any thing tangible on the ground to generate more money and to grow the economy.

Otherwise, if the MPs really want to retain their multibillion kina DSIP and PSIP and at the same time kill corruption, they have the solution on their hands.

They only have to apply the funds honestly in their electorates to empower our people to become financially independent so that they leave their MPs alone to focus on development and the economy.

That is the way to go and the most honourable way.

This PNG Post-Courier editorial was published under the title “Corruption- who is to blame?” on 24 May 2023. Republished with permission.

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