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The National | Editorial | July 3rd 2024

Papua New Guinea has often been described as an island of gold floating on the sea of oil, surrounded by natural gas. 

However, people in most parts of the country still awaits the sight of tangible development that has been promised since independence.

It is evident that our God-given resources seem to be squandered by a handful of those who lurk behind the curtain of corruption and greed, enabling themselves to get richer while the people become poorer. 

Although the blame-game continues, many, if not all, of the nation’s problems rest on the actions of our leaders. 

It was only last week we received word that only four out of the 20 provincial administration submitted their annual performance reports to the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs (DPLLGA).

DPLLGA secretary Philio Leo said according to section 11 of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government (OLPLLG)1995, “each provincial government shall, by June 30 of each year, furnish to the minister responsible for provincial government and local level government matters a report for the year ending December 31 preceding on the affairs of the provincial government and the local level governments in the province. “

“Section 119 mandates all provincial governments, through their respective administration, to furnish to the government the annual provincial performance reports,” Leo said in a statement. 

“It reflects our commitment to transparency and accountability, and improvement in service delivery to the people of Papua New Guinea.” 

“Adhering to these mandatory deadlines ensures smooth coordination and effective assessment of provincial performance.” 

This statement was issued following instructions given early this year calling on all provincial administrations to furnish their reports before the end of June. 

July has already begun and those provincial administrations that are not compliant with the law need to be questioned by the Parliament Public Accounts Committee and the Ombudsman Commission. 

These reports are important to evaluate the performance and progress of provincial governments in their implementation of key government service’s delivery programmes at the subnations levels and, should be summitted on time. 

Over the years, Governments spending had increased but its ability to reach the people in the rural areas has decreased. 

The 1995 OLPLLG created a three-tiered system of government in the country. 

The provincial and LLG levels are required to carry out service delivery functions and make local laws based on powers devolved to them by the OLPLLG. 

Funding for services, however required to pass through all three tiers. From the government at the national level, funding passes through the provincial and district levels before it hits the local or ward level, and each tier provides its own opportunities for mismanagement. 

Rather than flowing downward in beneficial streams, funding now tends to trickles in smaller droplets to those at the ward level.

In addition, the Department of Implementation and Rural Development (DIRD), formerly known as the office of Rural Development, is also another key authority that is mandated to monitor compliance and implementation of the Government’s Service Improvement Programmed (SIP) funds, including provincial and district support grants. 

PNG since first introduced in 1982 by Grand Chief Sir Michae Somare as the Village Service Scheme. 

DIRD secretary Aihi Vaki has been a staunch advocate for provinces and districts to submit acquittals for their yearly expenditures, particularly of the SIP funds. 

He has reiterated that DIRD, among its other functions, aims to:

  • ENFORCE guidelines requirements to minimize and eradicate corruption
  • ENSURE districts and provinces have five-year development plans.
  • MONITOR the implementation, performance audit and reporting of the developments by the 118 subnational administrations. 

To date, DIRD is yet to receive acquittals from the remaining provinces and districts that still need to submit theirs. 

SIP funds have increased since they were first introduced from K10,000 per electorate to K10,000,000 but its service delivery has been very poor. 

The volatility of these funds, coupled with poor governance surrounding its spending, continually limits PNGs ability to meets its development goals. 

That is why compliance, be it within the realms of governance, business or laws, is important because it promotes transparency and accountability. 

It also enhances the credibility and reputation of an organization which can lead to better opportunities in the future. 

The onus is now on leaders and individuals alike to ensure public funds disbursed through this channel is properly planned, executed and acquitted. 

We all need to comply worth the laws that make the country better today than it was yesterday.