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The role of the private sector in development has been hotly contested since the private sector first became engaged in development. In recent years in Australia the situation has become particularly acute, with revelations that just ten companies now manage close to 20% of the aid budget. The development NGO community and other groups are quick to criticise.
Australian aid expenditure by mode of delivery
Source: Australian aid statistical summaries, DFAT.
The figure above illustrates, however, that even though aid delivered through commercial suppliers has been increasing since the merger of AusAID into DFAT, it was still 2% higher as a proportion of total aid expenditure in 2006-07. Since then, aid implemented by the private sector has increased, in nominal terms, from $655 million to $858 million, but overall aid has increased from $2.88 billion to $4.03 billion. The reality is that the private sector has had, and will continue to play, a crucial role in development. The Australian government should remain agnostic when it comes to modalities of aid delivery for any given aid project.
It should, however, be careful about the ways in which it engages the private sector, and what for. As capacity has thinned out within DFAT there has been a growing tendency to engage the private sector to handle more of the burden of project design, project review, and in some instances independent project oversight. The most recent case of this was the publicly-tendered PNG Quality and Technical Assurance Group, worth $3.7 million over three years, a project designed to contract a private sector party to provide oversight over two private sector facilities The Justice Services and Stability for Development and the PNG Governance Facility. This project is no doubt born out of a necessity for these large projects demanding a larger degree of oversight than DFAT has the internal capacity to manage (especially g...
Why is it that Papua New Guinea, as a country of nearly nine million people, including 3.2 million men and women aged 20 to 45 years of age, have so few workers accessing high paying, low-skilled jobs in its near neighbours?
The issue of few PNG workers getting jobs through Australia and New Zealands seasonal work programs was raised in PNGs National Parliament at the end of August 2018. Mr Ling-Stuckey, Member for New Ireland and the Shadow Treasurer stated: I am very concerned that PNG is not rising to meet this wonderful opportunity. Last year, Tonga, with a population of about 107,000 people which is smaller than New Irelands population successfully engaged 2690 of its citizens in Australia, sending home about A$26.253 million in foreign exchange or about K64 million.
In a recently published Devpolicy Discussion Paper, I have analysed the most recent available data to the end of financial year 2017-18, and compared PNGs performance with the other eligible countries for both the Australia and New Zealand seasonal work schemes. In 2017-18, PNG had only 92 workers go to Australia under the Seasonal Worker Programme, and 138 workers go to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. These are very small shares of the nearly 8,500 SWP workers and nearly 10,600 RSE workers in that year, particularly taking into account PNGs population, which dwarves the rest of the Pacific.
The Discussion Paper also looks at what other countries, namely Timor-Leste, Fiji and Solomon Islands, have done to lift their performance and what the lessons are for PNG. The starting point for any approach to improving PNGs performance has to be a realisation that Australia and New Zealand employers hold the key to access to seasonal work. There are no country quotas. It is approved employers who decide whether to recruit workers from local sources such as residents or itinerant backpackers or go to the extra expense of recruiting directly from eligible countries. And they choose which country to recruit from.
The challenge for a sending country is to make it as easy as possible for approved employers, within the proper safeguards, to recruit the workers who they think will be the most reliable and productive. The most difficult part of the process for employers is the first step. Many employers travel themselves to a country to oversee the selection process based on a government-managed pre-selection process called the work-ready pool. Or they turn to a trusted intermediary they know who has links to a community in the sending country.
The Discussion Paper concludes that some form of intervention is needed to improve a sending countrys performance. T...
This year I have the privilege of being an Ambassador for the 2018 World Indigenous Business Forum, where my multiple identities converge.
It starts with my family. When my grandmother was a small child, she was designated a half-caste because she had an Aboriginal mother and an Italian father. After desperate attempts to evade capture, she was abducted from her family in the Western Desert and placed into a mission. As the landmark Bringing them home report found, the predominant aim of Indigenous child removals was the absorption or assimilation of the children into the wider, non-Indigenous, community so that their unique cultural values and ethnic identities would disappear. At that time, the Chief Protector of Aborigines in Western Australia had nearly complete control over Aboriginal people, right down to whether my grandmother could earn a wage or even enter a town. Australia continues to spend billions each year to address the ongoing inter-generational trauma from these policies.
As an Aboriginal woman managing policy for the Australian Governments overseas aid program, I consider Australia to be a cautionary tale for what happens when a country excludes indigenous populations from development: vast resources must be spent later in a retrospective attempt to close the g...
National Party politicians in Australia are concerned about rural labour shortages. According to media reports, the Minister for Agriculture was asked on 17 September to bring a submission to cabinet within three weeks on options to improve the supply of workers, including by making the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) more flexible.
As briefly suggested here, and explored in this post, one source of ideas on options for structural changes to the SWP is to look at how New Zealands Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme works, as it is widely judged to be successful in meeting the needs of employers.
The RSE has two design features that differ from the SWP.
First and foremost, the RSE is industry- and employer-driven. Its origin is as a proposal taken more than a decade ago by employers to government rather than, in Australia, the other way round. Horticulture New Zealand represents 21 product associations as well as sector, regional and district groups. Its National Labour Steering Group, through Horticulture NZ administrative and field staff, organises a network of the regional labour groups, and coordinates both domestic and immigration programs such as the RSE scheme. Since the beginning of the RSE, Horticulture New Zealand has had a dedicated staff member (who is also a grower) working on the RSE, currently four days a week.
Their 2018 Annual Report notes that Horticulture NZ continues to work on strengthening our relationships with key government agencies. In contrast, the SWP operates independently of growers and has had no mechanism to involve the industry groups representing the growers using the labour services of seasonal workers.
The second distinguishing feature of the RSE is that it is administered by a government ministry that is focused on the needs of business (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) and which includes Immigration New Zealand. A separate ministry is responsible for promoting and protecting employment for New Zealanders. In contrast, the SWP in Australia is managed by a government department that has a mandate to protect the domestic labour market.
While the two schemes look similar, there are in fact important operational differences between the SWP and the RSE. First, seasonal workers can work in New Zealand for seven months over an 11 month period, compared to only six consecutive months work in Australia over a seven month period.
Second, the RSE through a joint agreement to recrui...
By Scott Waide | #Inspirational #Papua New Guineans
Twenty years ago, Edith Babuls, young son, collected the seeds of a rather exotic Indian Guava fruit he found smashed on a road.
It was, at the time, a seemingly tiny deed done by a child for his mum. But over two decades, those seeds became a plantation of Indian guava trees whose fruits are now sold in Lae City.
He found the seeds and said, mum likes this fruit and he brought back about 100 seeds, said Edith Babul. From those seeds, 10 survived and those are among the trees we have now.
While Edith loved Indian guava, she didnt know the cultivation methods that would work efficiently.
At first it was all trial and error. I didnt know and I planted the seeds. It took a while.
In 2000, Edith harvested the first fruits from the initial 10 trees she had planted. She sold over 100 fruits and made K300.
Because I was still working, I told my husband and children that the demand for this fruit was good and that we had to carefully manage the trees.
It wasnt all easy. Some of the trees died and fruits were left to rot or succumbed to pest and disease.
As we walked through the guava plantation, Edith spots a large fruit. She pulls down the branch and picks a fruit which is bigger than her hand. Its fruits like this that have made her quite popular within agriculture circles.
Try it, she says, as we cut open the huge fruit. The guava is soft, delicious and far less acidic than smaller local varieties. Guava cultivation has become an art for Edith Babul.
She gives a lecture on insect management as we walk through the grove.
Never cut all the grass. When insect populations pick up in in June and July, you have to give them something to eat. Let them start with the grass first. If you remove all the grass, they will eat your fruits and leaves.
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