POLITICAL and economic stability will count for nothing if it does not bring tangible development and a better standard of living for the people, deputy opposition leader Bart Philemon said yesterday, The National reports.
He admitted that there had been economic growth for the past few years but said that this had not improve the lives of the majority of the population.
He also said the growth was due to improve commodity prices which were determined by global market forces.
“They are not dictated by PNG or the government,” he told a press conference at parliament house when calling for the government to be replaced.
Philemon, who was at one stage the finance minister before he was removed, claimed that the government had spent some K60 billion in the past eight years, but social indicators were worsening, with PNG ranking 148 out of 186 countries.
“Despite the economic growth and substantial increase in government revenue, the sad fact of life is this did not translate to the social indicators,” he said.
“The nation wants to know where all the billions gone to. The NA government spent over K59 billion in the last eight years since taking office in 2002. Yet there is no tangible evidence on the ground to equate such huge amount of money.”
Philemon expressed grave concern that hundreds of lives were lost each day as a direct result of government inaction.
He said records showed that each year, 7,300 babies less than a year old and 3,700 mothers died.
Studies also showed that 220,000 children under five do not have proper nutrition and that half of them are not immunised.
“About 60% of mothers are not properly supervised when giving birth, 70% of people have no access to safe drinking water; HIV/AIDS is ravaging like bushfire PNG-wide with 90,000 confirmed cases; and estimates of HIV/AIDS cases putting infection rate at 2-3% of population.”
He warned that that the government was setting a time bomb that would explode anytime with wider social and economic ramifications.
“The news is also not good on the education sector, where 55% of the population is illiterate.”
He said this was happening because 50% of the children were not sent to school.
Other reasons, he said, were a high dropout rate, poor teachers training and the government’s failure to maintain most education facilities and institutions.
Philemon said the law and order situation remained poor.
“In the last 10 years, 13,453 youths were involved in robbery, 9,389 harmed citizens, 8,435 broke into people’s houses and businesses to survive, 5,079 also stole from people to survive and more than 5,000 were involved in drugs.”
Philemon said these were the reasons why the prime minister and his National Alliance party must be removed from government.