Caption: Minister Abel responding to Questions from the media.
THE Department of Community Development and Religion is now responsible for Church State Partnership Program.
Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Charles Abel, handed over the responsibilities to the Department for Community Development and Religion, to Minister, Delilah Gore, on Wednesday.
The ceremony held at the Lamana Hotel, was also to announce the 2016 Education Infrastructure Grants to recipient member churches to the PNG Church State Partnership Program by the Department for National Planning and Monitoring.
The department has over a number of years, held these responsibilities for the Church-State program in the interim to review the social development program until it was in order before the full responsibilities were handed over to Community Development and Religion, the appropriate custodians for the program.
Mr Abel said churches play a vital role in the development of the country and obviously are the number one partners of the government particularly in the delivery of education and health services.
According to Mr Abel, K12 million in funding was allocated for the partnership program in 2015-2016, with a further K10million allocated in 2016.
However, he said the funding was not received in the timely manner that was expected or in the full amount that was appropriated.
He said this was because of the cash flow issues faced by the government and them having to prioritize through supplementary budgets and re-prioritize on expenditure.
“As we go forward of course, the government has placed a further funding of K20 million to enhance the Church State Partnership Program and that appropriation has been placed directly under the Department for Community Development & Religion. That is the department that has the appropriate mandate, in terms of Church Partnership Programs and the government’s relationship with the Churches,” Mr Abel said.
“To avoid those continuing issues of the past, I would ask that we all comply with this Policy that I keep referring too.
“We try and keep the implementation of public funds as focused as possible on outcomes and align as much as possible with the government’s purpose and intention.”
Despite the allocation of the amount of funds mentioned by Minister Abel only K2.5million will be dispersed or distributed this week to the participating churches under the Program. The funds has been already deposited into Bank South Pacific (BSP) and will be transferred through direct deposits into the Churches accounts.
Ms Gore also echoed her counterpart’s sentiments about the important roles that the churches play in the country.
“The Office of Religion comes under the Department for Community Development and Religion, and we have staff that are ready to partner and work together with the churches to continue the good work the Department of National Planning has done and deliver the most needed services to our people” she said.
“While we continue to focus on Education and Health, the Department for Community Development and Religion, and the country continue to face challenges in other areas that needs urgent attention.
“We have these challenges of community and home based issues such as Gender based violence, Persons living with disability that needs attention by this government, children related issues and many others that needs our attention.”