PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 2) – Papua New Guinea enters the New Year 2007 with mixed hopes about what the year will bring. Despite record Government revenue and two supplementary budgets, life for the great majority of Papua New Guineans who live in the rural areas is not likely to change much.

For a start, the general elections will be held over the next six months and the public service machinery which is supposed to deliver the basic services to the people will be diverted to supporting the general elections.

What then will become of the services the supplementary budgets are supposed to deliver?

Parliament will sit for the last time next month before rising for the elections. It will go down as the most ineffective Parliament in the history of Papua New Guinea.

The ruling coalition government dictated what Parliament should and should not do and ensured the Opposition was shut out from making any real impact on the floor of the House.

Attempts to move votes of no-confidence during the life of this Parliament were effectively thwarted by the Government appointing its own committee that ensured any motion from the Opposition did not get to be tabled on the floor.

We achieved political stability by ensuring the Government – for the first time — remained in power for the full five-year term of the National Parliament. But that political stability was not used wisely by the Government to deal with many of the most pressing issues affecting the nation.

Little if anything was done about the escalating law and order problems in the country, nothing was done to fight corruption at all levels of Government and instil practices of good governance across the wide spectrum of government machinery.

The Government turned a blind eye to the dismantling and destruction of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force by Australia rendering the force with a reduced strength and firepower that has made it almost incapable of dealing effectively with any security threats against PNG. The Police Force is still in a state of disarray as the election nears and uncertainty lingering about the appointment of a new Commissioner and related legalities. If there was any vote to be taken on the Government of Sir Michael Somare, it would not rate highly. The public perception is that the Prime Minister is being dictated to by a self-appointed "inner cabinet" that is telling to him what he should say and how the nation should be governed.

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