From PAUL OATES
WHEN SOMEONE known only as 'Peter' suggested on PNG Attitude that some people might be a trifle unfair when reflecting on AusAID's manifest flaws, I thought: "Fair enough, let's look at what is being offered to Papua New Guinea on Australia's behalf."
So, seeking evidence to contradict my opinions, I investigated a website 'Peter' identified as presenting more positive stories, http://www.educo.net/our_projects/law_and_justice/justice_advisory_group.htm
Now I know it's easy to cherrypick details that align with preconceived notions but, in this case, not only was it easy to select information to support my argument, there appeared to be little available to contradict it.
Quote: Educo has considerable experience in promoting and fostering political processes, in particular strengthening institutions of political accountability and improving government responsiveness. Our firm has successfully implemented large projects such as the five-year $5.7 million Ombudsman Commission Institutional Strengthening Project in PNG.
So if $5.7 million has been spent strengthening the PNG Ombudsman, exactly how has that helped the PNG Ombudsman Commission over the last five years? This is the same Ombudsman Commission that has reportedly been poorly resourced and cash strapped to the extent that is had difficulty in performing its role in PNG.
Then the following information is provided under 'Educo achievements' in the $11 million Justice Advisory Group Project to provide "independent advice on the law and justice sector" and "promote sector coordination":
Quote: Educo has produced a performance monitoring framework for the law and justice sector, as well as studies and reviews covering fraud and corruption, village courts, community-based corrections, restorative justice, police, sector planning and coordination, facilities and infrastructure management and a sustainability strategy for sector performance monitoring.
In May 2006, AusAID assessed Educo's management performance on the project at "an average of 100% against all indicators". That's pretty good - 100% - but exactly what were the indicators and which ones over achieved and which ones didn't work at all. In other words, what did $11m actually achieve for PNG in the long term. Alas, no details.
So 'Peter', unfortunately I am still none the wiser as to which of my criticisms were misconceived.
I am, however, more convinced than ever that my suggestions should be given practical consideration by those in AusAID who are organising this project.
I am also further disenchanted with the apparent ease with which highly paid AusAID consultants are able to justify their claims against Australian taxpayers with extensive 'goobledegook or, in layman's terms, sheer and simple 'bulldust'.
Here are a few more interesting facts and figures from the informative Bertelsmann website http://www.bertelsmann-transformation-index.de/118.0.html?&L=1:
PNG aid per person. $50.20 [I wonder what the average PNGian would say if they knew this?]
Basic Administration. The country suffers from an inefficient, corrupt bureaucracy, serious problems with maintaining law and order, weak discipline within the army and police forces, and poor governance. Most analysts consider PNG a weak state in which the state apparatus cannot implement even the most basic policies. The government's most basic operational machinery is either dilapidated or non-existent in many rural areas and the highlands, where tribal conflicts continue. [What is the use of trying to fix governance issues when the 'state apparatus cannot implement even the most basic policies'?]
Rule of Law. The ombudsman office suffers from a lack of capable staff and resources. [So what happened to the $5.7 million for strengthening the Ombudsman spent by Educo and paid for by AusAID?]
Management Performance. Under the Strongim Gavman Program 40 Australian officials will be placed in the PNG bureaucracy to assist with reforms in the areas of economic and public sector governance, border management, transport safety and security, and law and justice. The political leadership will respond with proposed changes to mistakes made and failed policies, but more often than not, policies remain stuck in the same routines. Senior politicians who interfere with the implementation of public policies often block new policies that threaten their personal interests. [So what objectives are to be achieved by the two lawyers recruited by AusAID? What has been achieved after $11 million spent on the Educo Justice Advisory Group?]
Anti-corruption policy. In theory, the government is committed to battling corruption and nurturing good governance. In reality, however, corruption is endemic. It is a problem at all - including the highest - levels of politics, bureaucracy and society. It is almost impossible to carry out an effective anti-corruption policy in practice. The Ombudsman Commission conducts investigations of political leaders suspected of corruption, but once a politician resigns, the Commission can no longer legally investigate the case. [Again, what happened to the $5.7 million?]