In a candid critique, Governor Allan Bird of East East Province  has voiced concerns over what he describes as a government on steroids, emphasizing that the nation's problems did not emerge under the current Prime Minister, James Marape, but have been festering for at least 15-20 years.

Key Points Raised by Governor Bird:

Indifference and Lack of Urgency: Governor Bird accuses the government of displaying indifference and a lack of urgency in addressing the long-standing issues faced by the nation. Despite repeated calls from members of Parliament, including himself since 2017, the pleas for a comprehensive jobs strategy and improvements in law and order seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Black Wednesday Fallout: The governor emphasizes that the problems, such as those witnessed on Black Wednesday, cannot be resolved simply by dismissing or increasing the number of policemen. He underscores the need for providing opportunities for citizens to earn a decent income and grow, particularly addressing the high rate of long-term unemployment.

Concentration of Power: Governor Bird criticizes the concentration of power and resources in the hands of the Prime Minister and the National Executive Council (NEC). He argues that the responsibility for solving the country's problems lies with a small group of individuals, emphasizing the need for strategic thinking to avoid a reactive, firefighting approach.

Proposal for Power Sharing: The governor highlights a proposal made by 20 Governors in March of the previous year for a real power-sharing arrangement, including the implementation of a Block Grant System. He contends that such a system, already utilized by Australia, would empower provinces and reduce dependency on central government resources.

Block Grant System: Governor Bird explains the concept of Block Grants as untied grants, allowing provinces to prioritize and address their own problems. He points out that the abandonment of this system in 1995 led to the entrenchment of power and resources in the hands of a select few ministers and the Prime Minister.

Call for Systemic Reforms: The governor estimates that a nationwide Block Grant system would cost around K3 billion a year, proposing that this amount could be allocated from the PIP Budget, which stands at K10.7 billion for the current year. He argues that empowering provinces to address individual needs would be more effective than relying solely on central government decisions.

Warning of Unrest: Governor Bird issues a stark warning that without systemic reforms, the nation may face increased unrest, necessitating more police presence and potential violence. He calls for either Prime Minister James Marape to initiate necessary reforms or for a new leader to take charge and overhaul the existing system.

The governor concludes by referencing a 2014 paper on Block Grants and the separation of powers, expressing disappointment that the proposed reforms remain unaddressed despite being presented to the Planning Minister.
Source: PNG Facts


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