PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 3) - Yesterday, the Papua New Guinea Defense Force received a large donation of military uniforms from the Republic of Indonesia. Several years ago, they also received a similar donation of uniforms from the People’s Republic of China.

These donations are of course welcome. But the question that begs an answer is why our defense force should continue to rely on foreign governments to supply its uniforms.

Why is it that our government cannot fund these in the recurrent budget? After all, is it not the government’s responsibility to pay for such things?

Accepting foreign aid for major infrastructure development or training for members of the disciplinary forces is part of bilateral relations PNG has with friendly countries. It is accepted.

But should this go as far as receiving supplies of uniforms on more than one occasion?

We are mindful of the serious budgetary constraints under which the Government operates, especially in the allocations to disciplinary forces but by the same token politicians need to be reminded that we cannot go on being beggers forever. We will stop begging for such items if and when there is strict control in public expenditure and wastage of public funds is brought under control.

This includes controlling the way defense force funds are spent to ensure the basic necessities of the troops are met within the force’s own budget.

This is not the only area of concern.

Health is another major area of concern.

Our public health system is largely dependent on overseas aid for medical drugs and supplies. Around 80 per cent of funds used to buy medical drugs and supplies come from the Australian Government through AusAID. It is a serious matter and one that every politician in this country ought to be made aware.

We are told only 40 per cent of our public health system is funded. And of this, AusAID funds 80 per cent of it! Leaders cannot continue to play political football with people’s lives.

June 4, 2004

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