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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 31) - The lack of proper accommodation for qualified public servants is taking its toll with many engineers and technical officers leaving the Department Petroleum and Energy. The same may also be happening at the Department of Mining.

Acting Secretary for the Department of Petroleum and Energy Bernard Pawih said yesterday the brain drain was becoming a major concern for his department as three of their engineers had left the department during the last three months. He said one of the major concerns for engineers was the very low housing allowance of K7 a fortnight, which in real terms did not fair well with the cost of accommodation in a city like Port Moresby.

Pawih said many oil and gas companies that entered the country in recent months offered very attractive packages to local engineers and these offers could not be matched by the department. Many of the engineers were people with education up to Masters levels.

"The Public Service Commission and the Department of Personnel Management should address this issue with target departments such as DPE and the Department of Mining," Pawih said. "There could be a way out of it, such as re-looking at the terms and conditions of the employees."

In the late 1970s, accommodation for public servants was a condition of employment. But the Government decided to offload the properties to the tenants of the government properties in the early 1980s and since then there have never been any new buildings constructed by the Government for its employees.

Pawih said with upcoming projects, PNG would be disadvantaged to understand the technicalities of the projects as it would lack the technical know-how as its qualified engineers would have left for better paid offers. "The Department of Petroleum and Energy looks after the interest of the State in the oil and gas projects and the Government should also be looking after the interest of our professionals who do the job," he said.

A shortage in skilled manpower in Australian companies also lured many Papua New Guineans to work in mines in Australia.

February 1, 2006

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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