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Poverty, crime, illiteracy unchanged under Somare

By Jeffrey Elapa PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 24, 2010) - The opposition yesterday criticised the 2011 Budget as another example of the government doing the same thing over and over again with little result.

Shadow Treasurer Bart Philemon said the government had wasted eight years of political stability and has nothing to show for more than PGK55 billion [US$20 billion] it had spent during this period.

Holding up The National newspaper and pointing to the front page which had a picture of an overcrowded ward at the Port Moresby General Hospital with mothers sleeping on the floor to illustrate his point, Philemon said social indicators had deteriorated under this government.

He said with the budget showing a lot of microeconomic holes, it was built on "shifting sand" and not "solid rock" and would collapse.

Philemon told the government to realign their unproductive expenditure to a productive expenditure while looking back of the past experiences and comparing of how effective it would work when the PGK9.3 billion [US$3.5 billion] was implemented next year.

"They are not working on reliable, accurate data and their monitoring and evaluation capacity is questionable.

"Despite the government achieving positive growth rates of up to 8 percent in consecutive years majority of our children do not attend primary school while major hospitals are always overcrowded and understaffed while our rural clinics and aid posts are rundown and with little or no drugs," he said.

He said the people especially women and children in urban centers lived in constant fear of being robbed, mugged, raped or even killed while the agriculture sector had been neglected, heavily politicized and corrupted, and badly managed.

He said the highly-educated and competent citizens still had no formal jobs with unemployment estimated at more than 60 percent while basic services especially in the rural areas had deteriorated forcing people to move to town and cities in increasing numbers.

Philemon said agriculture should be the foundation for education and health but not much concern was given in addressing agriculture which was the back bone of the nation’s development.

"There is nothing to celebrate or be proud about in the dire state of PNG including economic growth insufficient to impact households, poor performance on social indicators, absence of quality data or indicator framework for PNG, development plans have existed, but not well resourced, not linked to other plans and poorly implemented and the lack of fiscal discipline resulting to overspending and unproductive spending," he said.

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