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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 14, 1999 – The National)---The PNG Trade Union Congress has brushed aside comments by the chairman of the Privatization and Corporatization Commission, Ben Micah, that women would be better off under the new government policy on privatization.

TUC general secretary John Paska said this week that the remarks attributed to Mr. Micah were reckless and an "insult" to women.

"We totally refute the claims made by Mr. Micah. His statements are a gross misrepresentation of facts and the reality is far from the truth. Indeed, it's a statement of denial and therefore it is an insult to women," Mr. Paska said in a statement.

"If women are already grossly under-represented in a less competitive environment, surely common sense dictates that their position will greatly deteriorate under a more competitive environment. It follows that given that privatization increases competition, the position of women will be worse off."

Mr. Paska added, "Mr. Micah's assertions are not supported by the available evidence, facts and figures. All leading authorities and literature detailing the conditions worldwide clearly show that under the Structural Adjustment Programs, women have suffered more than men.

"All the gains over the last 50 years for women are either seriously under threat or have been swamped under privatization and Structural Adjustment Programs. In PNG, all one needs to look at are the facts and figures in education, health, politics, the economy and the labor markets. In all areas, the situation of women has declined markedly since the SAPs were introduced. The social indicators give further proof of this.

"There are two aspects that are always seriously threatened or affected by SAPs and privatization with respect to women. These are participation in the economic sphere and service delivery. In both situations, the evidence is clear. Women are marginalized further and pushed to intolerable limits of human survival. We are happy to submit or direct the Privatization Commission to the available literature on this.

"Under the circumstances, we call on women's groups to condemn such misleading statements which attempt to mask the reality and which are done without sensitivity to the plight of women and the hardships they face. For what is worth, Mr. Micah's statements are essentially a cheap sales pitch which women won't buy," said Mr. Paska.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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