PNG CITES ‘CUMBERSOME’ SYSTEM IN LOST GRANTS

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PNG CITES ‘CUMBERSOME’ SYSTEM IN LOST GRANTS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 2 ) – Papua New Guinea’s top public servant has described the procedures involved in accessing European Union funds as "very, very cumbersome."

The Government’s Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe said this when responding to a statement by Foreign Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu earlier this week. Sir Rabbie had said public service slackness had resulted in PNG losing PGK45 million [US$15.6 million] in free development grants from the European Union last year.

Yesterday, Mr Kline said: "We have to sit down and look at the reasons why we have not been doing well in drawing down on facilities from the European Union. Apart from our own lack of capacity to draw down, we also have to look at the procedure that is being required by the European Union. It is very cumbersome. "

He said the "turn around time" on project proposals is six to seven months.

"When we put in a project proposal and we work through the requirements of the European Union, it takes about six to seven months before we get any feedback. All the proposals have to go to Brussels and they will then have to look at it and do their own assessments and make sure we meet the requirements. I admit that on our part we are not organised but then on the other hand even if we are organised, it will take us six to seven months before we can put a project package together because of the cumbersome requirements that we have to go through."

Mr Kalinoe said it was easier to deal with the Australian overseas development agency, AusAID than with the European Union.

"AusAID have a presence in the country," Mr Kalinoe said. "They don’t have to go to Canberra to get the approval. With AusAID we just sit down with them, talk with them and they make the decision in Port Moresby and we have a project. That is the benefit and beauty about AusAID. They are in the country, they are working with us, they assist us to package a project proposal together and they make it happen.

The European Union, by contrast, is very cumbersome, Kalinoe said.

"People have to come all the way from Brussels to do a scoping study and then we go step by step to fulfil their requirements before it goes to their council who sit down and approve a project. So it is a two way process, you really cannot blame the public servants, you also need to look at the system that is being practiced by the European Union."

Mr Kalinoe also revealed he had received instructions from the Prime Minister to re-establish the Office of International Development Assistance (OIDA). The establishment of the Office of International Development Assistance will help.

"Having the capacity and dedicated people to work on certain projects on a daily basis will assist us to meet these stringent requirements," Mr Kalinoe said. "I have taken on board their instructions and we will be working on reviewing the existing structure we have so that we have a better structure to accommodate the amount of funds that are available to us apart from AusAID.

"With the Japanese government announcing an increase in the level of funds available to Pacific Islands as well as China, you are looking at billions, I would say over PGK3 billion [US$1.04 billion] combined. If you add Australia, that will be over PGK4 billion [US$1.39 billion] that we have available to us. That is a lot of money and we have to oraganise ourselves to access those funds, development funds and they are free funds, not loans, they are grants."

June 5, 2006

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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