Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Papua New Guinea aid misspent, says Kevin Rudd

Article in today's on line Courier Mail News

AID money to Papua New Guinea has been misspent on consultants rather than teachers and health services, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.

In a joint news conference in Canberra with PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare yesterday, Mr Rudd said the pair had discussed historical problems with aid delivery.

"Too much has been consumed by consultants and not enough delivered to essential assistance in teaching, in infrastructure, in health services on the ground in villages across Papua New Guinea," Mr Rudd said.

The effectiveness of aid to PNG needed to be tied to UN mandated Millennium Developments Goals, so outcomes from foreign aid spending could be measured.

Asked about poverty in PNG, Sir Michael said no one starved in the Melanesian nation even as kids roamed the capital Port Moresby where their parents searched for work.

"You've probably seen one or two in Port Moresby, kids who come to look for opportunities for education and health. When they miss out, then they of course roam the streets," he said.

"No one is starving in Papua New Guinea. We always have something to eat."

Sir Michael said food was in abundance everywhere in Papua New Guinea.

"Everywhere in Port Moresby alone, if you've been in Moresby you see the hills and mountains have gardens," he said.

"They have sweet potato gardens, tapioca gardens, they have bananas and I don't think anyone in Papua New Guinea starves."

Sir Michael said his country did not have the poverty of Africa.

"We are a village society. When one village is poor, the other village helps."

The PNG government had allocated 980 million kina towards building education, health services and infrastructure in the villages, the largest amount since the nation was granted independence in 1975.

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