DEVELOPMENT IS NOT A “JUMP STICK”

By CYRIL GARE 

Development is a “growth” process. Going digital ahead of base level improvement in rural lifestyle is a “bad” choice in the context of Public Policy. With limited funds, any government must prioritize. As a country, we are an “end-user” economy we depend on technology manufactured by others. The faster we move into digital age, the faster we commit our limited financial resources into their hands, and we are ripped off.
Removing “digital divide” by way of recent APEC trade meeting is one way they rip us of technology. They have the upper hand which we are ignorant of to see.
Is it the system of reporting of expenditure and budgeting priority or getting rural services back on track priority? Digitalising (e-reporting) of budgeting & expenditure – to me – is not a priority activity. What’s wrong with manual expenditure reporting (for now) until such time resource permits.
And the cost involved in electronic system installed, maintenance, and when it breaks down (as usual the story in PNG), etc?
Installation of the IFMS System in the Departments of Finance and Treasury does not necessarily make us develop: who is the contractor firm that operates and manages this system for GoPNG? How much is the fee? Blur, blur, blur!
Some provinces like East Sepik is already boasting about being first of the five trial provinces to have submitted its budget and expenditure reports online. Understand. But my point stands: PNG is filled with reforms, policies, new laws and amended laws, but the statistics remain in the Development Index, this has been how we fended over 43 years:
• 1975 PNG ranked 77th;
• 2004 PNG dropped to 139th place;
• 2008 PNG plummeted to 149th placing
• 2012 PNG further plummeted to 156th placing;
• 2018 PNG shrinking further to 178th placing.
The future is bleak. We must be prudent, be a thinker in 2019. Cost of living is rising and will never come down. School fees are up and will never come down. Customary land is being stolen ‘in the name of development’ and given to aliens at unprecedented rate. Our gold, copper, oil, gas and other resources are exported in large quantities but less money coming in, and the list goes on and on.
While we continue to suffer in the carnage and vicious circle of poverty, our children are growing up, dropping out of school in large numbers only to await their turn to act in whatever ways they will see fit.
“Prudence” is the name of the game I am looking for. Accountability is about numbers recorded in a book, prudence is a thing of the mind…big difference.
A deluge of foreign influence in all sorts & forms has made this country totally derailed and confused…we just forgot all about “priority” or “basics” and still to achieve same results.
In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Development process is not a “jump stick”.

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