Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Warning of over government

Just one year after independence, in September 1976, Governor-General Sir John Guise warned that provincial governments could only lead to a lower quality of service going to the people.
He also spoke about the need to stop importing food as well as that for good public service.
The great statesman’s words ring true today as we celebrate 33years of independence on September 16
"In principle,” Sir John said,” provincial government is good and may perhaps give provinces the flexibility they desire and adequate scope for running their own affairs within a united Papua New Guinea.
"However, I am in favor of provincial government on a much broader aspect, i.e., on a regional level so that it can reflect and retain its own political identity within the nation without breaking the country into a good number of provincial governments.
" If we have 20 provincial governments, each with 15 members and each with a premier, that makes 320 persons who will need to be paid salaries, who will require office accommodation, transport, etc.
" The expense of 20 provincial governments frightens me; the fact that we will be over-governed frightens me – there will be more and more officials chasing the same village or townspeople.
"The quality of life in Papua New Guinea must deteriorate if we are subject to government directions into Port Moresby from each provincial headquarters, from each local government council and from patrol posts and provincial headquarters throughout the country.
"Some provinces have adequate resources and are geographically suited to having individual provincial governments.
"Other provinces are more suited to joining together on a regional basis.
"For example, the nation could be split into six Regions or States, each having its own Regional or State Government with powers bestowed on it by the Central Government.
"The regions could comprise Papua, Highlands, New Guinea Mainland, New Guinea Islands and Bouganville.
“Let us not be suspicious but rather let us be progressive in our thinking – provincial government must be made to work in order to safeguard the unity, and ultimately the freedom of every man, woman and child in Papua New Guinea.”
Sir John also spoke about the need for hard work and the need to be efficient and productive.
“We must work to replace our dependence on food products from overseas,” he said.
“The Government was recently criticised over the costs involved in establishing the Fresh Food Project within the Department of Primary Industry.
“That criticism was unjust and inaccurate.
“Replacement of imported foods with freshly-grown local produce is a means of income for our village farmers, it saves our country foreign reserves, and the produce is on the average nutritionally superior.
“The cost of stabilising the industry was K1.3 million, i.e. developmental costs, infrastructure and salaries including extension work.”
Sir John then stressed the need for good and honest public service.
“Actions speak louder than words and it is by our actions that our people will judge us,” he said.
“Every Papua New Guinean must be prepared to sacrifice self interest for national interest.
“We must place the needs of the majority, that is, the village people, before ourselves.
“The penalty for being greedy is high.
“There are sectors in the community which in the past have virtually held the government to ransom.
“To those, I say be careful and be warned Papua New Guineans will consider national interest before that of individuals.
“If you are a public servant, then repay your country with good, honest service.
“If you work in transport industries, communications, shipping, etc, then exercise self-restraint in your wages claim for the good of the nation.”
Sir John concluded: “We have done very well in this our first year as masters of our destiny.
“There are many years ahead and the seas are strewn with reefs.
“I therefore call upon the captains of Government and private enterprise to consider Papua New Guinea first and themselves second, as we cannot prosper without the goodwill of the other.”

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