R&D AND THE ‘TIGER’ ECONOMIES

Photo caption: Poverty is induced by the capitalist democratic system world over. In PNG it is a ‘way of life’…a snake bite victim in Wosera, East Sepik province. Pic by Francis Ulangian.

Can we learn? Just what’s wrong with us?

Statistics presented during the 15th Asian Chemical Congress (ACC) held in Singapore on Aug 19-23, 2013 indicated that emerging economies are driving global research and development (R&D) growth from their R&D investments much more than investments in the same by powerhouses such as the United States and Europe.

Citing from the article “Emerging Economies Drive Gobal Research & Development (R&D) Growth” published by R&D Magazine on Dec 22, 2009 (M Grueber & T Studt), President of the Singapore National Institute of Chemistry, Mr. T. S Andy Hor pointed out that the R&D investment (as % of GDP) in Japan (3.41%) far exceeded that of a powerhouse such as USA (2.85%) whereas China (1.50%) and Asia (1.95%) also surpassed those of the “Rest of the World” (outside USA and Europe) (1.23%).

In terms of global share of total R&D spending, Mr. Hor said Asia (34.6%) has also caught up with USA (34.8%) whereas the combination of Japan (12.3%) and China (12.2%) even exceeded Europe (23.2%).

“These upward trends of R&D in many Asian countries, notably the likes of China, India, South Korea and Singapore have been evident since mid-2000.

“Education and research often comes hand-in-hand as a package. Recent data from the World Bank suggested that many Asian countries take the stand that investment in education is the best means to prepare for the future. This is witnessed from the high % of government expenditure in education in places like Hong Kong (24.1%), Saudi Arabia (19.3%), Thailand (20.3%), United Arab Emirate or UAE (23.4%) and Nepal (19.5%), which exceeded even the Scandinavians (Finland 12.4%), Norway 16.1%, Sweden 12.9%,) and USA (13.8%). This education priority will further strengthen the R&D manpower base for Asia,” Mr. Hor stated.

In comparison, PNG invested around K2 billion in Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education since 2014, sectoral allocation is under 10%.

The Post Courier sensationalized the country by reporting false hope in a K60 billion funding the US President will bring in during APEC – reinvigorating the age old “cargo cultist” syndrome against intellectual mindscape in contemporary PNG.

APEC is about trade, not about free money from Peter Pan’s ‘never’ land. We get paid for what we trade; gold, copper, tea, copra, cocoa, oil, gas, tuna, logs, etc. The better the price the better we earn from these commodities.

We must diversify our economy base if we are to earn better. By way of strategic Research & Development (R&D) initiatives and innovation (which greatly lacking), we must substitute senile crops with new cash crops such as vertiver, patchouli, tuberose, massoy, and other Essential Oil products and compete in the growing US$26 billion perfumery and food-flavour market. Export of dried cocoa and coffee beans must stop and substituted with soluble cocoa (milo) and soluble coffee processed onshore.

Our crude gas (LNG) has some 12 gas constituents. Until it is separated and paid for individually we will continue to lose big time; US$150 million per shipment of our LNG cargo is fake and not true value of our gas. In fact, the true value of the PNG LNG project should and must be in trillions not billions.

Same is the story for our gold, tuna, logs and other commodities. The under value of price (unfair pricing, high tariffs, etc) constitutes our mediocre export earnings resulting in lack of money, budgetary deficit, and seemingly, the need for borrowing and more borrowing to support budgetary financing and debt servicing. Over time, we are ‘debt trapped’ and reeling in the ‘vicious cycle’ of poverty once again and over again.

Why is it so difficult to stop gold export, create a gold bullion bank, and smelt gold onshore. Such tough decisions need to be made and the regional APEC group forum is no better place to lobby such support for World Trade Organization (WTO) level.

In essence APEC hosting here was a golden opportunity for PNG. In the contrary, it appears, PNG missed the opportunity. Firstly, we didn’t witness the bucket list of agenda presented by PNG. Secondly, even if there was a bucket list, it will be profit oriented in the interest of corporations rather than health of society and the environment and fast depleting wealth of the planet that is going into fewer and fewer hands, and thirdly, all is a waste if the 2018 30th APEC Leaders’ Summit never resolved in the official signing and endorsement of a joint communique’.

If PNG was in a situation of a conflict to choose between PROFITABILITY and HEALTH of society, it will be profit. Therefore, carnage created by global capitalism. Our FDI approach is the purveyor of carnage, we experience it but unable to rid-off, it seems.

In the eyes of the world, PNG’s application of FDI between 1975 and 2012 had been:

  • 1975 PNG ranked 77th;
  • 2004 PNG dropped to 139th place;
  • 2008 PNG plummeted to 149th placing; and in
  • 2012 PNG further plummeted to 156th placing in the world.

Stunning! In 37 years we were passed by 79 countries. Six years on from 2012 – 2018, the leech sticks on. Our performance output remains mediocre. It did little difference on the development index. We failed in all facets in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. We failed in meeting the envisaged targets in the Vision 2050 while our Medium Term Development Strategy stands only as a resemblance of our discursive nature of a ‘thousands policies, little results’ nation.

We must redesign the course of our future. R&D is the way to go.

We tried every possible ways to reach the ‘development’ light house. But every effort only pushes it further away. We are like a lost ship in the vast bleak ocean…confused.

We have written, passed, amended, repealed many laws and policies but nothing seem to be working out. Reforms after reforms were of no avail.

We produced many doctoral degree holders and self-made ‘professors’ now more than ever. We created many knights under the Queen and the crest of Logohu every year. Soon there shall be no Indians. Yet, we failed collectively…never have we invented a workable operable formula and solution for our miseries.

In the last 20 years, we self-made and created more ‘thugs and destroyers’ than nation builders. The more educated and influential we become, the more we master the access to the debit card that can swipe at PNG like an ATM machine at will. Greed and corruption is so rampant that everyman is for himself and no one cares about the rest, doesn’t matter anymore at which point the nation will crumble. As if one is saying; ‘It is an opportunity to make a million, for me, my wife and kids, forget about the rest’. The fair and equitable distribution of wealth is blocked and ended up in fewer and fewer hands of those who control power and money and influential in decision-making. We have created a new class system and ‘humane divide’ in the guise of freedom and democracy in PNG. We need to address this issue more than the “digital divide” and the “bullshits” on APEC agenda.

We are induced by the system to burden debt and poverty. It is not our ‘real’. We are captivated as prisoners in our own land while our wealth is stolen as we watch helplessly. Reeling in confusion, the least, words can utter is ‘it’s the law breaking us, we ain’t breaking the law’. Sadly, the government and the world isn’t hearing nor seeing it.

Our road to development and ‘industrial take-off’ remain a far cry and disillusioned. Every effort is made but the lighthouse is receding further into the mirage of bleakness, as if we are doomed. Over four (4) decades our ‘thoroughfare of life’ has been an unsuccessful search for the ‘Real’ of our true form (as in Plato’s Theory of Forms).

We see different shapes and sizes, figures and numbers, flora and fauna, lifestyles and cultures but haven’t been able to master and create our own form. This is PNG’s biggest problem. We must revert back to our origin, find the ‘real’ of our true form and start again from there.

Re-visit our commitments and pledges in the ‘covenant of man’ as stipulated in the Preamble of our National Constitution, recommit to the National Goals and Directive Principles which is the Instruction Manual of the manufacturer for without which we are like a ship removed from the anchor.

Carnage and devastation imposed by liberal and capitalist globalisation upon us cannot be overstated. It takes place in remote areas where it is seen only by the people whose lives are destroyed by it. We who consume the products of this carnage have no idea of the real price our consumption imposes on these people and world around them.

Given the global scale of the carnage it is no wonder the world’s wealthy elite must join power of the state with the power of the corporation to sustain this plunder and injustice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *