Sunday, January 17, 2010

Planning factors for Papua New Guinea's Vision 2050


In future, the Papua New Guinea government must look over the horizon at the core permanent features of our geography and domestic situation.

Some important factors for government strategic planners to consider in our Vision 2050 strategy are:

  • Distances from major international markets;
  • Strategic environment - our homeland is girthed by sea to the east with Solomon Islands and south with Australia, and a common western land border with Indonesia. Hence, our main strategic interests are held in common;
  • Demography. We have a low but growing population base with a proportionally small fiscal base. The country over time can not sustain a large ineffective bureaucracy nor incur any large public-cost factors. Therefore, the general plan needs flexibility and professionalism will be needed if our workforce is to be properly trained, and adequately resourced to support future development goals; and
  • National interests. The wide spread of our national interests, most of which are shared with other countries, and can only be pursued in a collective endeavour. Thus, collective security has been our basic national development posture for 34 years.

More over, we should also include these three key features to be included in PNG’s strategic planning system:

  • Comprehensiveness. The strategic planning system must cover all public expenditure works as well as equipment. This should give a balanced view of government funding and spending in its entirety;
  • Transparency. The long term strategy must show the content and state of all plans, programs at all stages, from initial identification through to the commitment of funds and implementation of projects; and
  • Strategic linkages. The government must link through a clear chain of logic, its strategic development policy framework through capabilities required to carry it out at all levels of administration from national to local governments. The link between national strategy and spending should be kept more clearly before parliament and government. Thus, governments can better balance policy aims with available resources and better assess the consequences, and risks from any imbalance.

Here, certain strategic deductions must be made with suitable hedging strategies adapted to address demographic trends like population growth, education drop-outs at various levels of the education spectrum (primary to tertiary, including vocational), competition with the private sector, effects of the HIV/Aids pandemic on human capital, including potential brain-drain of our workforce professionals, skilled/semi-skilled labour leaving various employment sectors within government for industry here, and offshore.

For best allocation of resources, good strategic plans: whether short, medium and long-term must be constantly reviewed and maintained. These action plans reflect the need to think ahead in the long term business of sustainable development investment. A careful planning process is needed to ensure that funding and the required development capabilities are available when called for. The next few years will see further reviews carried out as part of what will be a continuous improvement strategy and process, feeding into our national strategic planning system.

The writer is a former PNG Defence Force strategic planner

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