O’Neill and PNC dupe the people of Papua New Guinea by giving away for free equity that taxpayers have paid for. Unlike shares in BCL and OTML that O’Neill gifted to landowners the LNG equity takes directly from the rest of the country. BCL equity came from Rio Tinto. Ok Tedi shares were stolen from PNGSDP and indirectly the people of Western Province and then only 33% was returned to landowners whilst 30.4% was retained for the government.
The economy occupies center stage in debates in elections worldwide. Often the economy plays a major role in determining the outcome of election results. The political rhetoric and spin cannot change the realities on the ground – how our people are deeply impacted by economic growth. Economic performance and the incumbent government’s role in engendering this is fundamental in the concerns of our people. Nobody should attempt to stifle discussion of something so important.
The challenge of curtailing the corrosive culture of corruption and instilling good governance is the ultimate leadership challenge. In the Alotau Accord the O’Neill Government promised that it would “be remembered … as the most decisive, action packed, transparent and accountable Government the nation has ever had”. Sadly, it seems the O’Neill Government will be remembered instead for the slow but devastating erosion in good governance and poor development outcomes.
O’Neill and his party PNC promises the country that it will borrow more and burden us with more public debt if returned to office. Alas Papua New Guinea cannot be built on a mountain of debt. The immediate real cost of the O’Neill Government’s addiction to debt is a tax by stealth on economic growth.
The O’Neill Government’s spending on “awe and envy” NCD infrastructure with poor net returns whilst allowing our rural people to languish in hardship from drying funds for much needed goods and services betrays the deficit of the O’Neill government not only in public finances but also in its morals. The cost of the very large new NCD roads exceeds the annual revenue for all those provinces outside NCD and Morobe. This gives perspective to the gross inequity and misallocation of resources.
The O’Neill government has been quick to spruik it’s free education or TFF policy whilst failing to acknowledge the decline in quality of education as a result. The O’Neill Government’s own 2017 National Budget points out the failure as well as other independent agencies and commentators.
As a nation we have a moral duty to address the deficit of opportunities that Papua New Guinean girls and women have and to empower them to realize their potential. Most of our girls and women live in a world they don’t want or deserve – it is time to be bold for change.
Whilst the significant increase in access to basic education is commendable this seems to have come at the cost of quality of education. The surge in enrollments has not been matched by a commensurate funding increase to support additional school infrastructure, materials and teacher development training. Now the Government expects teachers to suffer a real cut to their wages despite their teaching burden doubling. An erosion in the quality education will have profound effects at a personal and national level.