Senior officials from Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Zealand are carrying out the Peer Review exercise which began in Port Moresby last week, at the request of the Government of Papua New Guinea.
“While we bring our own country perspectives to the table, Papua New Guinea is truly unique in its challenges due to the sheer scale of its landmass, population and diversity of cultures and languages,” remarked Mr Mathew Pativato, Director Financial and Economic Development Unit in the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Finance and Treasury, speaking from Madang.
With a population of about 450,000 – equivalent to the Solomon Islands’ own population (yr 2000 estimate) – the Madang Province boasts the country's highest peaks, active volcanoes and biggest mix of languages.
“Clearly the Madang provincial and local-level governments have quite an extensive responsibility in delivering services to the people on the ground,” said Mr Pativato.
“From our consultations in Madang so far, we have heard a consistent message in support of decentralisation of development funding from the national government, directly to local-level governments.
While this would give those closer to the people more opportunities to implement their planned development initiatives in a timely manner, there is also an understanding, and a plea, to strengthen the human capacity and systems at this level to support decentralisation.”
Former Governor of Madang, Minister for Provincial and Local Government Affairs, Health, Bougainville Affairs, Chairman for the National AIDS Association and a longtime political and business figure now based in Madang, Sir Peter Barter, agrees.
“Respect each level of government and give them the appropriate levels of capacity and funding to deliver effectively,” was Sir Peter’s advice.
|Pacific Islands leaders at a recent summit. Pic by abc.net.au|
Improving service delivery on the ground will be no small task, particularly somewhere like Madang that has the least road connectivity in the country.”
Papua New Guinea has 20 provinces, one autonomous region (Bougainville) and the National Capital District. Each province consequently has at least one or more districts, and each district has one or more Local Level Government (LLG) areas.
The Peer Review team will present their preliminary findings and recommendations at the conclusion of their consultations next week.
Source: Post Courier Online