PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 24) – So our national planners and decision-makers have scrapped the K111 million (US$35.6 million) Forestry Conservation Project and are looking around for other ways to fix up the Highlands Highway.

No doubt there will be some financiers strolling down the corridors of Waigani offering what appear to be generous terms to replace the aid donors who attach strings.

We hope sincerely that our nation’s bean counters will ensure thorough assessments are made of the new offers to make sure that the current-day politicians and bureaucrats do not mortgage the next generation of Papua New Guineans’ futures to such deals.

There has been a growing trend in the past couple of decades for the Government to seek easy ways out when confronted by unpalatable deals like the World Bank’s forestry conservation project.

Insisting that the Government adhere to guidelines on sensible use of forestry resources is never going to be popular in modern-day politics, where companies with huge dollops of cash and influence reign supreme.

With the scrapping of the forestry conservation project, the loggers and their friends have had a big win.

Now the challenge is with our leaders to find the money to fix the Highlands Highway and other major tasks, without selling the national soul and without tying the hands of the current Treasurer and his successors for the next 20 or 30 years.

The World Bank and other respected, if not liked, aid donors come with cheap money.

The only "expensive" aspect of their deals is the principled development that they urge upon governments like ours.

We hope that pride (for our decision-makers) does not come before a fall.

Commentator Michael Manning sums it up well, in saying that the current government has curbed excessive spending but has yet to leverage the sort of growth that will really pick up the economy.

May 25, 2005

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