PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 1, 2008) – There is hardly one engineer left in the Government’s Works Department roads and bridges section.

That’s a confession from within, from First assistant secretary Eric Sikam.

We have been neglecting our professionals and they are leaving in droves to go to greener fields in private enterprise.

This means that the part of Government that is supposed to supervise and vet the building of roads and bridges is virtually non-existent.

So who will maintain standards, who will make sure that the millions of kina of government and aid money is spent in the right way?

Nobody, it seems.

So construction companies can make unrealistic tenders for jobs, win the assignment and then, in theory, do a cheap job and leave the people and the Government holding the bag for sub-standard work?

We cannot let this happen, in the same way as Air Niugini cannot let all its qualified and experienced pilots and engineers go overseas because there are better offers over there.

The Government has spent many millions since Independence on educating and training all kinds of professionals, doctors, nurses, pilots, engineers, accountants, IT experts and the like.

Some of these professions are of world-class. The expertise and skill of our people is recognized in other job markets and Papua New Guineans are working in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The Government has to take a big picture approach to this problem and realize that the current salary packages will not be sufficient to keep our better people home.

Many are patriotic and would prefer to stay here, but when they find their workplace and salary package stripped to the status of a Third World economy, and colleagues enjoying the best of the developed world in relative safety and comfort . . . it’s hard not to sign up and fly out!

We realize that there has to be some standards and uniformity, but there must be a realization in government circles that some of our professionals are up to overseas standards and in the modern world, they will be lured to work in other countries.

There is a case for two tiers of public service appointment and we need to act on this quickly to avoid the Government running out of professionals to keep up our standards.

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