IT'S THE YEAR OF SIR MEKERE

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PORT MORESBY, Port Moresby (January 5, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The year just passed, 2000, has been declared as The Year of Sir Mekere's Triumph.

Port Moresby's Citiscenes magazine made the declaration in its cover story and became the second magazine to pay Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta such a tribute.

The first was Pacific Islands Business magazine, which declared Sir Mekere as the Pacific Man of the Year in its final issue of 2000.

In its cover story, Citiscenes magazine declared: "In a year when the economy was in recession, despite continuing law and order problems, despite low commodity prices, despite the lack of a Bougainville solution, PNG's seventh Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta has weathered the storm to prepare PNG for its Date with Destiny."

Among the achievements cited by the magazine, Sir Mekere:

* Stabilized import institutions of State, particularly the Central Bank;

* Stabilized PNG's inherent political instability with the passage of the Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates;

* Moved decisively to contain bribery and corruption by strengthening the Ombudsman Commission, the Auditor General, the Public Prosecutor and the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee;

* Reduced substantial levels of domestic debt to the tune of K 1.2 billion (US$ 382,200,000);

* Organized international assistance for PNG worth over K 800 million (US$ 254,800,000);

* Produced major 10-year plans in the important areas of health, education and transportation;

* Maintained Public Sector reform;

* Increased the development budget substantially; and

* Gave Papua New Guineans tax relief this year by lifting the tax threshold but holding income tax at current levels.

Of these, the magazine claimed, Sir Mekere's personal triumphs were in the three areas of stabilizing politics, restoring independence and credibility to institutions of state and pushing through with public sector reforms.

The magazine asserted that rather than a "date with destiny" as Sir Mekere declared when he took office in July 1999, 2000 was a year Sir Mekere gambled and won.

The magazine claimed that "it was more of a gamble with (PNG's) destiny than a date with it" because Sir Mekere did not have full control of all the variables.

He won the gamble, however, because "he played his hand with great care, forethought and with not a small measure of cunning."

"Ever so slowly, the first time parliamentarian but veteran economist, rakes in the chips," the report states.

"The year 2000 was the year of Sir Mek's Triumph."

Citiscenes magazine, which declares Port Moresby to be Papua New Guinea's "City of Opportunity" and itself to be the window to that city, is published monthly by FARaway Enterprises for the National Capital District Commission.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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