PNG Governor Decries Alleged Deprivation Of Funding

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Gary Juffa says provincial budget penalized over comments

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 8, 2014) – Northern Governor Gary Juffa believes his province in Papua New Guinea has been deprived of development funds because he spoke out against corruption and other national issues.

He said that in the 2014 budget, his province had been allocated less than last year which would impact on major infrastructure projects.

"For my efforts, I have been penalised by an unfriendly budget," he said in an article posted on a website yesterday.

"I had been warned by a particular minister, yet I never dreamt that people would be punished for their leader’s efforts to raise concerns about national issues."

Juffa said not a single project proposed by his provincial government had received funding in the 2014 budget passed in October.

Describing it as "a bitter pill and a lesson in the murky politics," he said while he could not blame his fellow MPs for their actions, they were ignoring the expectations of the people and the country’s potential.

Juffa, who was the Customs director-general before he contested the elections, said he had made several observations in his first term as an MP.

The most important one, he said, was that if PNG was to progress, it must shift its leadership philosophy from tribalism to nationalism.

"Tribalism is necessary for the preservation of cultures, languages, unique identities and customs but it need not be embraced as the only method of leadership.

"To allow this would be to suppress nationalism which in turn will ensure a status quo where political bullying of leaders allows inconsiderate decision making and corruption to prevail.

"Papua New Guineans and their leaders need to take that step towards developing a big picture: The country first and the tribe second, rather than the other way round," he said.

Juffa said that except for a few, many elected leaders were reluctant to speak out on issues that affected the nation and the people.

"Seasoned politicians went about with confidence and, in some instances, boredom," he said.

"The new MPs struggled to find their feet, some replicating the template of politicking associated with accessing funds, others learning through trial and error.

"I was disappointed that many politicians who claimed to have entered parliament to address corruption and fight for PNG shied away when presented with the opportunity to do so.

"They have chosen to work with a perverted system rather than trying to correct it."

Juffa pledged to speak out even if it may cost him his seat in the next elections.

"If I lose, I will at least be able to say that I did exactly what I intended to do: Represent my people, not just those who voted for me and my electorate but those from all over this great nation."

He hoped that Papua New Guineans who were increasingly aware and agitated would support leaders "who are not just brave at the ballot box but also in parliament."

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