Several millions of Kina have been coming into the hands of Engan MPs in the last 5 years like other MPs throughout PNG. Not only for wheat but for pyrethrum, coffee, potatoe, etcetera and for other developmental projects. The office of Rural Development which is responsible for monitoring for the MPs funds is understaffed, systematically weak and cannot detect fraud throughout PNG before money is evaporated. Somare regime’s District Suppport Grant policy had overlooked the administrative functions of the provincial government system in financial and project management and administrative support to district services.
The Somare government, after the 2007 elections said, provincial administrations are a bureaucratic red tape, bottle-neck in service delivery from Waigani reaching the people and they opted for funds to come direct to the districts. The Organic Law also gave rise to creation of Joint District Planning & Budget Priorities Committees. The MP, by the OL, gave him the chairmanship of the JDP&BPC. The District Treasaury Roll-out Program of Peter O’Niell as the Treasurer complimented creating District Treasuries, where money from Waigani can be accessed at the district quite away from the PGAS (Provincial Government Accounting System) and the watchful eyes of provincial public servants.
Without any tests of the JDP&BPC entity in administering the massive funds reaching the districts, the MPs had hijacked an established administrative system, tested and used, known as the provincial administration. As the lead Public Servant in the district, the District Administrators were appointed by the MPs, mostly their cronies and supporters. The DAs by the OL are also Executive Officers of the JDP&BPCs and by the Public Finance (Management) Act they are Accountable Officers (Sect. 32 Officers) to draw the district funds. So in since 2007/2008 fundings in millions from Waigani have simply disappeared in most districts, although a few are successful in prudent management and implementation of impact projects.
In the guise of service delivery some MPs have become cowboys in manipulating and really corrupting their JDP&BPCs and thus overrunning ORD and escaping the limelights of the Department of Finance (For e.g. No JDP&BPC meetings are held but minutes are fabricated and cronies appointed as members). The MPs have rushed through the Central Supply & Tenders Board in Port Moresby to tender and award projects to K2 companies in the districts, thus overriding the Provincial Supply & Tenders Boards avoiding PFMA guidelines and avoiding eyes in the province who tell “who is who” in the business industry. So in the name of service delivery and in the demand by our people to see daily improvements in their living standards the clash between the systems in governmental administration has taken place and toll.
I see the Open MPs have become winners in this struggle because most Provincial Governors were castigated as Provincial Prime Ministers. Some powerful Governors (e.g Wenge, Ipatas, Agiru, Chan, etc) have challenged the PMs and pushed them so hard onto the sideline of politics and governance. PMs found it so hard to control their politics in the provinces, sometimes the economic basis, so the easy way to tame, suppress and undermine the governors was to use the Open MPs (89 against 20) and lure them into their political parties (The Integrity Law on Political Parties and Candidates also empowered such a drive to give the PM or the ruling party maximised power and control, e.g. NA). So the Open MPs who have detested the Governors have found an opportunity of their 5-year term and they scored victory when they were infact given millions after millions of kina to develop districts (District Services Improvment Programs).
I am seeing many challenges and issues in the whole stand-off in politics and governance in the past years. The saddest points in the service delivery paradigm is that corruption is well alive and truelly active in the districts where the MPs are still dishonest and play nepotism towards funelling projects to areas where they will get the votes. DAs become brief-case carriers of the MPs and abandon their post to administer the day-to-day of the districts. True, provincial administrations, where the Governors are the political heads, as some criticised, did not ponder well in helping district development. But I still believe the provincial administration is a well composed, technically and administratively groomed body to manage projects and public service management in the districts. There are accountants, engineers, valuers, suveyors, architects, draftsmen, scientists, planners, policy analyists, project managers, doctors, educationsist, social workers, and the like based and employed within the provincial administrations throughout the 19 provinces than the districts. It is sad to note that districts have no administrative capacity and Waigani cannot fledge its muscle to support and oversee every district in PNG
Let me conclude: The Clash of the Titans! The results of a rushing governance, political rivalry and quick-buck schemes have costed PNG and millions of Kina have gone down the gutter where few millionaires are made overnight on the expense of service delivery to our illiterate and struggling people. Our people continue to remain poor despite massive amounts of developmental grant are channelled in the new system unless 89 districts are equiped and 20 provincial administrations dismantled.
As we see today, there is no commonsense in the Parliament, and these are the same MPs who want to make quick money at the expense of service delivery and remain in power in the political culture. They will do anything to bleed PNG and this trend will continue untill PNG is educated enough to know what is happening in this country. Whether it is for wheat, pyrethrum, coffee, cocoa, copra or livestock the cost of funds missing will be continue to be dearer and exorbitant. The system of governments are at clash. And who will check who? The MPs know what they are doing. They all want a share of the loot (dreams of LNG are even estatic) and no one cares anyone. Some food for thought and I make particular reference to the situation in Enga. These aremy views and I do not speak for any other person.
* Mr. Peter has been serving as a public servant for many years in Laiagam District and also in the Enga Provincial administration