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Tuesday, 21 November


Manumanu Land Deal: Aftermath PNGBLOGS


Manumanu Land Deal: Aftermath The Manumanu Land deal issue has subsided through time and all stakeholders affected have seemed to move on, the dust has settled. Let me refresh your memories on the issues again. The purported Manumanu Land Deal (MLD) for the relocation of the PNG Defense Force is alleged to involve five different transactions totalling an amount of K46 million. However, the dealings did not comply with established processes.

The MLD issue was raised in Parliament by Member for Kairuku Hiri, Peter Isoaimo that eventually led to the sidelining of 2 Senior Ministers and suspension of 6 Departmental heads, CEO of State Owned Enterprise and chairman of CSTB. In a media statement on the 6th of February 2017 PM, ONeil had announced a Commission of Inquiry (COI) headed by a retired Judge to investigate the claims made, referred the matter to the National Fraud Squad and the Ombudsman Commission also for potential breaches of the Leadership Code.

He further promised to return the land to the customary landowners. Investigations The COI established was later downgraded to an Administrative Inquiry headed by Queens Counsel John Griffin which was supposed to take 4 weeks to complete at a cost of K2 million with the report to be presented to the Parliament on 28th of March 2017. These inquiries were to look at the roles of Ministers, the responsibilities of Departmental heads and its officers and heads of various SOEs. This report was never made available in the March sitting of Parliament.

To date, the outcome of Administrative Inquiry, National Fraud Squad and the Ombudsman Commissions is yet to be made public. Appointment of Ministers Duma and Pok Member for Hagen Central William Duma and Member for North Whagi Fabian Pok were appointed Ministers for State Owned Enterprise and Defense respectively in the 10th Parliament. The irony is that both Ministers were sidelined in the 9th Parliament over the controversial issue of MLD. When PM ONeil was questioned about these appointments by Member for North Fly James Donald MP, the PM defended the appointments by stating that there was no point in preempting the outcomes of the Administrative Inquiry, all citizens are innocent until proven guilty and so as mandated leaders they are entitled to occupy positions.

PM ONeil has clearly backflipped from his earlier statement o...


Toxic Aid: a review Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Toxic aid: economic collapse and recovery in Tanzania, by UCLA Professor and former World Bank Chief Economist for Latin America Sebastian Edwards, is a fascinating and well told story of Tanzanias economic history. It begins with a brief discussion of whether the recent economic progress in Tanzania is the success story often presented by those advocating economic reforms in Africa and then proceeds to summarise recent debates on foreign aid and whether aid really works on the ground.

The remainder of the book largely refocuses on the Tanzania story. It begins with a short discussion of how aid volumes evolved from independence to 2011 and then proceeds to drill down on what Edwards identifies as three key periods of changing aid support. In subsequent chapters, with excellent analysis and convincing detail, he relates the economic performance that accompanies each period of aid. In the closing chapter he returns to the question of whether Tanzania should be considered a success.

For a variety of reasons this Tanzania story presents a particularly interesting case study. After his brief outline of the post-independence period, Edwards discusses in detail Tanzanias turn to socialism in 1967 with the Arusha Declaration. Documenting well the steady economic decline that accompanied the move to socialism, Edwards contrasts this with the generous and increasing aid flows that Tanzania received through the 70s. Enthusiastic about Nyereres focus on rural development and addressing the needs of the poor, substantial support came from the World Bank and other donors, in spite of poor and declining economic performance. Indeed, this period provides a clear explanation of the title toxic aid; no one can credibly argue that the massive aid flows that marked this period had meaningful development impact, as poverty levels clearly increased.

Edwards then describes well the key areas of dispute that emerged with the IMF and World Bank in the late 70s, and devotes a chapter to the story behind the complete break in relations with the IMF in 1979. He also provides a useful summary of the broader changes that occurred in donor attitudes toward Africas development challenges, before returning to the Tanzania case.

Most of the remainder of the book focuses on the two periods of reform that marked the 1985-2011 period. After Nyerere retired and Ali Hassan Mwinyi was elected President in 1985, the government moved forward with a reform program that emerged from both internal Tanzania work and the support of the IMF and the World Bank. Edwards presents a comprehensive description of the reforms involved, and reviews the positive impact they had on the return to real economic growth. Pursuing reform also led to substantial new aid flows. Summarising th...

Monday, 20 November



by: PROFESSOR Kristian Lasslett  
In 2016 eyes turned to Singapore. Close personal friends of Sir Michael Somare were imprisoned, for among other things, defrauding the PNG public.

It was claimed American national, Philip Doehrman, and his Singaporean wife, Lim Ai Wah, defrauded the country in order to bribe Sir Michael, his son, Michael Somare Jnr, and a number of Chinese business people.

Understandably, at the time, coverage focused on the scandalous nature of the case, given that it implicated the countrys greatest political grandee in a bribery scandal. But the devil is in the detail.

Image: Sir Michael Somare, one of the nations founding figures.

For the first time, full access to the court decision is now provided. Delivered by Judge Hong, the decision features evidence which appears to show how elites amass fortunes, through practices that significantly increase the cost of living for the PNG public, and distort how national resources are applied.

The case of Wah and Doehrman centres on a simple and seemingly noble exercise, building colleges catering to marginalised learners. Judge Hong claims this scheme was exploited by its authors, so that a range of actors could take improper cuts from the PNG public. This had the effect of diluting t...


Population explosion makes protection of customary land vital Act Now! blogs

By Eddie Tanago

Papua New Guineas population is growing at an explosive rate, which makes retaining control of customary land vitally important. Customary land is very valuable. It sustains a huge economy and provides employment for 3 million local farmers. Customary land is also vital for food security and it makes people strong and self-reliant. 

The 2011 National Census reported PNGs population to be 7.2 million but at a growth rate of over 2% each year, it has already grown to an estimated 8.3 million.[1] That is a 1.1 million or 15% increase in just 6 years.

By 2030, it is estimated our population will be 10.5 million. That is another increase of 2.2 million or 26% on todays figure.

By 2050, the population will be 13 million. That is a staggering 4.7 million increase from 2017.

This increase in population cannot go unnoticed by the government.

The government must stop its efforts to register customary land as that opens the door to illegal land deals and land alienation. The government must also stop encouraging and allowing foreign owned industries to take control over customary land. 

Our customary land is already very valuable and when we allow outsiders onto our land, whether under the guise of logging, mining, oil palm or other activities, we lose a vital asset; one that is only going to be even more crucial for our children and their children's children.

Retaining control of customary land will help reduce the impacts of PNGs population explosion by providing a home, food security and employment for our children.

Footnote: [1]


Migrant worker exploitation: insights from New Zealand Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand is a pressing issue. Media headlines over recent months highlighting the issue include: He treated us like dogs: people trafficker jailed; Filipino dairy farm workers abused, exploited; and Exploited Indian students turning to suicide, support group warns. These are not isolated cases of exploitation and some cases are illustrative of modern day slavery.

In December 2016, I released the findings from a two-year research project Worker exploitation in New Zealand: a troubling landscape in which the exploitation of migrant workers featured heavily. The research was undertaken on behalf of the Human Trafficking Research Coalition, comprising four non-governmental organisations: The prscha initiative, Stand against slavery, Hagar and ECPAT.

A number of New Zealands industries rely on temporary migrant employees to fill labour shortages. In the 2015/2016 year, 192,688 workers were granted temporary work visas. I found exploitation was occurring in several key industry sectors, predominately labour-intensive industries, including farming, fishing, horticulture, hospitality, and international education, among other sectors.

A number of those I interviewed were victims of wage theft they were underpaid their legal entitlement or for some, not paid at all. Some were paid as little as $5 an hour. As a point of comparison, the New Zealand minimum wage is currently $15.75 per hour. Workers were required to work shifts of 12 to 18 hours for a very low wage and under exploitative conditions. Many employees did not have an employment contract, with many not aware that an employment contract is a legal requirement. One migrant routinely worked 90 hours a week but was only paid for 45 hours. For many migrants, their legal entitlements to holiday pay was denied. Some were threatened if they persisted in asking for holiday pay, you will lose your job.

Many endured degrading treatment, including being denied bathroom breaks and being verbally abused. One migrant was taken into an orchard and beaten by his labour contractor. As he recounted, he was threatene...


The depths to which xenophobia and bigotry has reduced Australia "IndyWatch Feed"

Australia began to ignore its obligations under international law in 1992 and its determination to turn back asylum seeker boats and reduce the number of refugees accepted into this country grew apace until this is the situation in November 2017.

The New York Times, 18 November 2017:

Veteran United Nations officials said this month they had never seen a wealthy democracy go to such extremes to punish asylum seekers and push them away.

Papua New Guinea officials and local leaders, enraged at how the camps closure was handled, have demanded to know why Australia is not doing more to help the men.

HuffPost, 18 November 2017:

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's main medical association called on Saturday for the government to allow independent doctors and other health experts to help more than 400 asylum seekers languishing inside a recently closed detention center in Papua New Guinea.

The asylum seekers have shut themselves inside the Australian-run Manus Island Centre for the past 18 days, defying attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to close it in a standoff the United Nations describes as a "looming humanitarian crisis".

Australia has shut access to the cente...

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