Devolution Of Powers, Local Employment Key For PNG’s Future

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

NZ author approves of PM’s efforts to empower Papua New Guineans

By Franklin Kolma

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 4, 2016) – The devolution of powers from Waigani and the negating of foreign consultancy contracts are vital to the country’s growth says a prominent book writer.

Trish Nicholson, a New Zealand based author who has spent three years of her scholarly life trying to understand the socio-economic workings of PNG says that development can be improved through the devolution of powers from Waigani and a change in the way consultants are contracted.

Ms Nicholson shared her views yesterday in light of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s recent direction to negate the use of international advisory contracts.

She said that the PM’s directive was a step toward empowering qualified Papua New Guineans from the growing local human resource bank to take up prominent roles of the decisive, nation moulding calibre.

"Devolution is simply the act of delegating tasks more so that work can be carried out on the provincial and even district levels.

"A practice that theoretically exists but is yet to be effectively exercised," explained the academic.

The author said that a common aspect of PNG’s political and socio-economic mechanics that acted as a stumbling block to development was the seemingly growing number of expatriate consultants and experts littered across the entirety of country’s governmental departments.

She said that although this was not entirely bad for the country, it did little in the way of helping native Papua New Guineans to effect change as best as they saw fit.

"Living in PNG for a few months or years isn’t enough for a foreign expert to begin dictating what he or she sees as ways toward improving society.

"One has to have the history, essence and cultural malleability to truly come up with development paths," said Ms Nicholson.

She furthered that above all, foreign consultants cost the country about the same amount of money that could otherwise be used to seal a section of a highway or build a health post.

"I honestly don't see the value in a bunch of consultants in Port Moresby who don't go out to the districts, pontificating as to what should be done, and sending out yet more pieces of paper, forms and systems."

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