Monday, February 10, 2014

2014: THE YEAR OF "ACCELERATED IMPLEMENTATION"


Papua New Guinea’s Prime  Minister, Peter O’Neill,  has told  minsters, provincial governors and heads of departments  at a Port Moresby  leader’s summit that failure is not an option in  the implementation of the 2014 budget.

Speaking in Port Moresby,  O’Neill    said the patience  and tolerance of Papua New Guineans might eventually be exhausted if  the government fails to deliver.  The summit  follows on from  a budget strategy meeting  which was held  at about the same time last year.

The Prime Minister’s   presence at the  meeting was meant to  affirm the importance of the task ahead.  The government has just 10 months  left to implement a record 15 billion kina   budget passed in November last year.

While there have been some improvement in statistics,    in the last 12 months, there are   major challenges ahead.   Speaking this morning after the Prime Minister, Finance Minister James Marape, said  school enrollment percentages had  risen from a little over 60 percent to  75 percent.

But critics of the government point to the stark reality that the classrooms have become overcrowded with  a disturbing ratio of one teacher for every  60 students.

      Steven Mesa, a parent and board member of the Lae Secondary school in Morobe  says it is  affecting  education standards.

“For a science class of 50 to 60 students in a 40 minute period,  students get less that a minute of the teacher’s attention.”

The last 12 months have also  been a period of learning for the government.  Policy makers learned that districts  and local level governments lack the capacity  to use the large amounts of funding being injected to the districts.  The government also learned the hard lesson of being overly dependent on mineral revenue after a drop in gold prices caused revenue projections to drop and put many mine workers out of  their jobs.

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of   having a diversified economy - an economy  that is not heavily dependent on  mining and petroleum.

In many respects,  PM was  echoing sentiments shared  by commentators and critics of the  former Somare government,  who  said  Papua New Guinea should  build its agriculture and manufacturing sectors  and create economies of scale.

    The Prime Minister is allowing no room implementation  failure.   But much of the implementation hinges of the  civil service – the government’s implementation mechanism which  has not always worked in the past.

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