Great policies can’t work in public service systems run by corrupt people


Picture by Gerard Ng/Sally Lloyd

All the systems we put in place must serve the people.

We can pull our people out from the quagmire of poor health and low literacy. We can educate more women, reduce violence, build great infrastructure, strengthen our internal and external security.

We can be a learning hub for our Pacific neighbors with world class university campuses that use the research and the skills to mitigate the effects of climate change.

We can pull our 10 million people out of poverty, change mindsets and build a country of wealthy families.  We can build a  great military that focuses on nation building and protects our national borders with pride and builds the characters of our young.

The noble concepts of free health and free education can work beautifully.  We have the people, the natural resources and the means to do it.

We have land enough to provide housing for all our people. We have the systems that can do it.

But we can’t achieve all that if the people running the systems are selfish and corrupt.  Selfishness stems from an inward looking mindset.  It puts self ahead of the rest. It prioritizes taking instead of giving.

Our education system can be among the best in the world. Yet the people who run it steal from it, starving our future generations of what  is theirs.  Many commentators defend the Tuition Fee Free education as an important policy for rural families and their children.  Yet the truth of the matter, is that a large number of those schools did not get TFF money.  The infrastructure component meant for new buildings never went to them.

It was either diverted of stolen. This in itself needs and investigation.

There are ghost names on the payroll.  Teachers are posted to schools that are closed or teachers who have not showed up to teach for years.  The case of the late Grace Gavera killed by her de facto partner, Andy Baro,  exposed part of a network that involved the production of fake IDs  linked to the education payroll section.  Andy Baro had several names and was a teacher according to the fake IDs found in his possession.

Travel agents charge 15 percent processing fees for leave fare entitlements transferred to their accounts by provincial administrations.  These are travel agents who don’t even have to work for the money they get. How does that happen?

The Public Accounts Committee has exposed the corruption within the National Department of Health.   It exposed a Department Secretary who depended on and trusted bad advice by his ‘technical team.’

The PAC  exposed a ring that thrived on bribes. It also showed how  defective tender application documents that quoted more than K600,000 for sea and air transport for medicine deliveries in the City of Port Moresby went through.

Why would the Health Department choose the most expensive service providers to deliver and supply medicines and on the other hand tell the PAC that they were trying to save a few thousand kina  by not testing for the quality of drugs in Australia?

In National Housing Corporation corruption is rife.

The stench is sickening and those who feed off  the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families walk around unpunished.  They’re still doing it.  Towards the end of the year is when they start issuing eviction orders again.  Don’t think we don’t know.  Their customers are foreign business owners looking for cheap properties to buy.  Documents appear legitimate  and, like the health department, they are aided by NHC insiders.

We can’t live like this.

We can’t continue to be the butt of sarcastic jokes at diplomatic and corporate functions.  We can’t accept the corruption and continuously expect things to go wrong.  We have to stand up and expose the people behind it. Name them, shame them and make them run for cover.

We have to be willing to fight for our country  and  demand that those in positions of trust and authority do the right thing.

We can’t accept the rot and expect to  continue living a life in a cocoon.

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