Posts Tagged ‘John Momis’

Economic independence

Economic Independence is domestic ownership of wealth. Real economic independence will be seen and felt if the government has the capacity to provide for its own resource needs or own resources necessary for domestic development. This relates to political independence, because in order for the government to fully exercise its power as an independent body, it should discourage the ownership of resources by a few elites or foreigners, as it will function in their interest and reflect their will.

It is the citizens who should be supplying the needs of the state if we are to see our nation achieving full economic independence. According to Namorong,

“all Governments need resources to exercise their power. If the state owns and supplies its own resource needs, then the state promotes its own interests. If corporations supply the resource needs of the state, the state protects the interests of corporations. If citizens supply the resource needs of the state, the state protects the interests of its citizens.”

Government’s focus is all about mining, commercial fishing, commercial logging – big industry and less or even no attention is given to smallholder extension services or to the so-called informal sector. However, PNG’s economy is dependent on agriculture. At the same time, a majority of the population is dependent on agriculture. The National Informal Economy, given adequate government support, can provide economic independence for the nation, while creating broad and sustainable employment for citizens throughout the nation.. Recognition and strengthening the informal sector, rather than the formal sector (‘cash economy’) can be a breakthrough for PNG.

There’s big potential there because that’s what we are good at doing. We are productive people and it comes naturally in a sense that local people, even without any proper knowledge in agriculture, can produce something and sell. All we need is better transport network and general infrastructure to support the people. Policies should be people-friendly, producer-friendly. We already have the background, in the 2011 National Informal Economy Policy.

For our economy to be fully economically independent, we might also consider the importance of a developed manufacturing sector, in terms of downstreaming processing. PNG export approach is to ship our natural resources as raw materials: this is the central attraction for foreign investment and it’s going to remain that way unless our government takes a step forward on this sector of the economy. It is not necessary that we hand over our resources to foreigners in order to see progress. If it was, the founders of this nation would not have called for National Sovereignty and Self Reliance or for the wise use of natural resources.

Another important inducement for economic independence is being less dependent on foreign aid and foreigners to stimulate our economy.  That includes foreign grants, aid and foreign investment. Our economy is greatly dependent on foreign investment: for example, almost all mining companies are foreign owned. This is not economic independence. Nor is accepting aid, dependence on which disempowers the government from fulfilling its duty to its citizens. A study made last year by the Australian Government’s Joint Intelligence Organization found almost two-thirds of PNG’s economy is controlled by Australian companies and individuals.  And with the rapidly increasing Asian involvement in economic activity here, it is clear that we Papua New Guineans at present control only a very small part of our own economy, and will remain in this subservient position unless firm action is taken to change the existing situation in a meaningful way.

So I would say that this is the real independence struggle of Papua New Guinea. What economic independence really means to me is that our government owning the wealth of the nation and getting only its own citizens to supply its resource needs, not from any other third parties (as in foreigners). We should not be relying on foreign aid and investment to maintain our economy. Economic independence means people of the nation are in charge of generating cash, which stays in the domestic economy. Economic independence is the control of the wealth of a nation by a majority of its citizens. Because of this, developing the subsistence or informal sector in Papua New Guinea can really contribute to the overall independence of our economy. Improvements in road networks and basic infrastructure are the main motivational factors required for people to contribute to PNG’s economy, if they are not already doing so.



“We must not be afraid to make a detour from wayward ways and go back to the past that the National Goals and Directive Principles of our Constitution prescribe for us”

“The constitutional fathers dreamt that one day we would be free. We worked very hard to look at the needs and the aspirations of the totality of the highly diversified – culturally, linguistically, even religiously – people of Papua New Guinea. And we tried to come up with something that would form them to become a great people with a great vision and motivate them to take the necessary steps to become activators of change and development, not mere passive recipients of goods and services.

It is sad that we have leaders of this country who are, for their own political and selfish ends, prepared to sacrifice the collective good of the people of Papua New Guinea. Using political parties … as vehicles of convenience to get into power, to manipulate and exploit the people of this country.

We have been marginalised.  And we are marginalised because a number of our leaders have been bribed.

And that is why young people today must unite and be educated with those universal, perennial values that are very important for any nation. We must not be afraid to make a detour from wayward ways and go back to the past that the National Goals and Directive Principles of our Constitution prescribe for us.

We have some hope of reversing the situation that is fast developing this country with detrimental consequences of making Papua New Guineans totally dependent on government hand-outs and so on. PNG I believe now stands at the threshold of a new order. But we have a great mission to liberate and empower our people not only objects of development, but subjects of development as well. We must be the agents of change. We must not be prepared to be told ‘yu no can askim plenti question.’

But we have many problems, because when you try to redirect a warship that is set on a course, it is not easy. But it does not give us the excuse not to try.

I think that the National Goals and Directive Principles are still very relevant. And if all of us tried to implement (the vision) enshrined in the National Goals and Directive Principles, Papua New Guinea would be a better place.

National sovereignty and self-reliance are very, very important. National sovereignty calls on leaders not to sell their people’s rights. Not to allow this country to be ripped up and raped by foreign investors. National sovereignty calls on leaders to reject bribery. National sovereignty calls on leaders not to use public funding to make investments overseas while their constituents are barely making enough money to buy medicine, school fees, and so on.

Self-reliance means embarking on a massive program of empowering people to get involved in small scale socio-economic activities. Activities that would take into full account the Melanesian way.

We are communal peoples. Social relationships, interdependence, to us is very, very important. We don’t want to marginalise people. We don’t want to compete and destroy one another. We want to collaborate, we want to form interdependence. Interdependence: we are all leaders. We depend on one another.

Good leaders must be servants. Good leaders must be educated enough to appreciate the values of human dignity, the right of each citizen to participate, the right of each citizen to have a say, the right to have a voice. We are all equals. Good leaders should not have the license because of their position to make policies and decisions that are detrimental to the common good.

In my view, every province in Papua New Guinea should be given greater autonomy. Giving autonomy to Madang, for example, doesn’t mean Madang would want to secede – nogat. Giving autonomy means you are now structurally forcing this highly centralised and bureaucratised government in Port Moresby to give the people of Madang their due. The sources of revenue, sources of employment, sources of information should be decentralised. The national government should not usurp the role of the provincial governments.

If you look at the natural resources that are being destroyed and are being developed today, what are the tangible results of the exploitation of the people’s resources? In 1974, PNG leadership was talking about a need for sustainable development. For ecological balance. Preserving our rainforests and only using what we need, and not destroying the beautiful rainforest and the seas we have.

As active agents of change, we can create an educated, intelligent, just society for PNG. Out of the many combinations of tribes and languages we can create a very good country with all its differences, and create an independent spirit right throughout the nation.”

To watch short films featuring John Momis  discussing writing the Constitution, click here and here.

To watch a video about the National Goals and Directive Principles, click here.