By MALUM NALU
Former MP Warren Dutton believes the success of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd’s freight subsidy scheme for rubber growers in Western province can be duplicated throughout PNG for every crop produced by rural villagers.
He said this today at a workshop focusing on the impact of LNG on the PNG economy, with particular reference to agriculture.
Dutton, who is chairman of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC) agriculture sectoral committee, said successive governments over the years were of the view that PNG should not have a freight subsidy policy.
“I would confidently suggest that if our members of parliament were to set aside half of their annual K10 million into a freight subsidy fund, that that K500 million or so would be sufficient to provide a marked improvement in the prices that would be paid for cash crops right throughout all their electorates,” he said.
“I would suggest that it would be an even greater vote winner than the free education policy was some years ago.
“More importantly than that, it would change the mood of the nation.
“It would change that mood, because our rural people would be able to believe that they were at last being recognised as productive citizens of their country, whose labour and sweat deserved an appropriate financial reward.
“Rather than beggars, who are only worthy of recognition at election time!”
Regarding the LNG project, Dutton said successive governments over the years had lacked experience and wisdom to manage and share the wealth from various resource projects to rural people.
He said inflation brought about by the LNG project would squeeze most village cash crop producers out of business.
“If we allow this to happen, we will be responsible for their inevitable reaction,” Dutton said.
“The LNG project will inevitably cause this to happen.
“It may, hopefully, sometime after 2016 supply the revenue needed to continue the alleviation of the problem.”