PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Dec. 31) – Tonight we bid farewell to 2004 and usher in a new year — and the start of a new era for our nation.

We leave behind a year beset by escalating violent crime, high youth unemployment in urban centers, a rising HIV/AIDS epidemic , deteriorating health and education services, collapsed infrastructure, never ceasing political instability among many serious problems.

Corruption also remains a matter of serious concern not only to Papua New Guineans but also our international friends who have been supportive of PNG in these difficult times.

Thousands of young people who completed their formal education this year face a bleak future. Only a small percentage of them will continue on to tertiary level and other education institutions to further their education. The rest join the army of unemployed youths still looking for work. Only the "Nogat Wok’’ sign meets them at the door of every potential employer.

The problems facing PNG demand strong, uncompromising political will and leadership if we are to be assured of a prosperous future. These are problems that are calling on every elected leader of this country to devote their time to finding solutions and giving the people opportunities to better their living standards. To do so requires the National Parliament to take the lead.

Sadly, this year has seen Parliament demonstrating a lack of leadership and direction. Parliament sat for fewer days than required by the National Constitution and when it did meet, it did not spend real quality time in dealing with the issues of concern to the people of PNG.

The threat of a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister continued to dominate politics each time Parliament convened. This threat remains the single most serious impediment to the future progress of PNG.

This must change in 2005. It will require Parliament to play its proper role in taking charge of issues critical to the future wellbeing of Papua New Guineans and ensure the executive government is held accountable for the way it is managing the affairs of this nation.

The economy is showing strong signs of improvement, thanks to the Government, but it will take more time before people really see any true benefits flowing from it.

The nation desperately needs new foreign investment in all sectors to help restore confidence in the economy.

All Papua New Guineans deserve to enjoy a better year in 2005.

January 3, 2005

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