“Maru appears to recognise that the productivity on rural people on their own land is the most important driver of development in PNG.”
AS THE election dust clears, there are signs some leaders are putting their minds to supporting PNG’s most productive sector: its people.
The new Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry Richard Maru plans to revitalise the Co-operative Societies Unit by slashing millions of kina of waste and corruption.
Maru said these funds should be being used to enable rural communities to generate income for themselves and the national economy.
In a full page press release in The National (30/08), the Minister made no bones about his plans to “downsize” the “heavily bloated bureaucratic structure within the CSU” and said millions of kina directed to fraud and non-CSU operations – including to a casino and an Australian bank – would be investigated under his watch.
“Co-operative societies are the vehicles for rural people to be involved in establishing and operating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). If the societies are functioning properly with the support that is given to them, they would play a significant role in addressing issues such as poverty, education, law and order etc, as well as contribute to wealth creation,” Maru said.
As the former head of the National Development Bank, Maru appears to recognise that the productivity on rural people on their own land is the most important driver of development in PNG.
Other Governments are also making gestures reflecting this. According to the Post-Courier (30/08), some governments including New Ireland and Milne Bay are using their funds to support farmers to continue providing for the nation in hard times.
Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather has called on new Madang Governor Jim Kas to follow the example of New Ireland and Milne Bay’s leaders and subsidise copra and cocoa farmers in that province, as the world market price for these commodities has dropped drastically in recent times.
Fairweather believes the future of PNG lies in our existing strengths – our rural industries – not in big-ticket development projects that have little benefits to the nation’s citizens. Thus the MP is also challenging the exploitative and destructive Ramu Nickel and proposed PMIZ projects in Madang province.
Meanwhile, Boka Kondra, the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, has also criticised the Government’s unjustified love affair with neocolonial business such as mining and logging, describing it as an “unsustainable” model of development.
Kondra said in the long term, maintaining our ways was more likely to bring about development than extractive industries.
He said PNG must strive to protect and preserve its cultural heritage and make it attractive in ways that would make the tourism industry feed and grow on it.
“Most of our natural resources are finite and will one day disappear, but I believe that if we sustain our culture and tourism, that can and will continue to sustain us in the future,” Kondra said.