The Member for Chuave, James Nomane, raised a critical point in Parliament about the size of the national budget and the lack of visibility of any meaningful impact on ground.
The MP later said he will not apologize for calling the Treasurer out just before the passing of the supplementary budget, as it was necessary for him to criticize the budget to promote responsible governance, transparency, equitable allocation of resources and address the economic challenges.
Similar views should be shared by Papua New Guineans throughout the country on the use of the Services Improvement Program funds (SIPs).
Currently there are 96 Districts in Papua New Guinea. Each receives K10 million a year in DSIP funds. That is almost K1 billion in public funds in total.
But the spending doesn’t stop there.
If each district also gets an extra K10 million in infrastructure funds, as promised by the Prime Minister earlier this year, that will be over K2 billion in public money.
With the proposed inclusion of six new districts next year, as recently announced by Minister for Provincial and Local Level Government Soroi Eoe, the annual funding allocation will go up by another K120m.
Yet, out of the current 96 districts, only 13 have produced a Five-Year Development plan.
While the government creates more districts and increases the spending allocations, it should also be demanding more transparency and accountability from the districts and be putting more money into the monitoring, reporting, evaluation and auditing work carried out by the Department of Implementation and Rural Development and the Auditor General’s Office.
Regular complaints from both offices about the non-provision of timely reports and acquittals by districts, should have already sent smoke signals to the government
To help promote transparency and accountability ACT NOW! has established the DDA Watch website - https://ddawatch.org
The public can use the website to access news and information on their District Development Authority and to post comments, photos and score their DDA’s performance.
DDAs can also utilize the platform to publish their Five-Year Development plans, budgets, audit reports and acquittals.
Papua New Guineans deserve a budget that not only distributes money fairly and equally across all the districts in the country but which is tied to clear five-year development plans and which funds the mechanisms to ensure the money is used effectively.
District Development Authorities were created in 2014 with the intention to improve service delivery to the people who have long been deprived of basic health, education and infrastructure services.
Simply throwing more and more money at them without ensuring it is well spent will not deliver the improvements that are so desperately needed.