Is the government listening to our fears on the resource boom?

It would be easy to conclude the government has its head in the sand over the current resources boom and is ignorant of the fears of most in the general community.

While the Prime Minister and his senior team constantly talk up the good times ahead for PNG from major resource projects like LNG, the Ramu nickel mine and the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone, most acadmics, observers and media commentators are seriously worried that PNG is heading for a huge disaster.

The latest to speak out is Australian academic, Professor Ron Duncan, who last week reminded his audience at the University of PNG that major resource booms in developing countries usually result in "waste, corruption, economic instability, civil conflict and the distortion of political processes".

Prof Duncan warned that PNG is likely to waste its revenues from the boom because it does not have the proper processes to manage the impacts.

Sources even closer to home have been communicating the same message as Prof Duncan. On 10 March the Post Courier warned us in its editorial that PNG vilages close to major resource projects face "a social hell". The article warned about the dangers of living in what it termed "a natural resource wonderland" while problems like HIV/Aids run rampant.

The National newspaper has also warned in its editorial pages that PNG "is ill prepared for the impact of liquified natural gas (LNG)" and that "so much money is not necessarily a good thing".

"As we have seen since the advent of the Bougainville copper agreement in 1974, and every other copper, gold and oil agreement since, almost all of the billions from those projects seem to have vaporised into thin air. Australia has spent nearly K20 billion since Independence in budget support and, today, there is nothing to show for those billions.PNG collected windfall money from good commodity prices of some K6 billion in the last six years.This money has disappeared overnight with the Highlands Highway still in dire need of maintenance, with hospitals still running short of essential medicine, with nurses, doctors and other civil servants still waiting for their awards and with the rural outback still in need of essential services"

Parliament is supposed to be an institution that represents the people of PNG and is not supposed to govern like a dictatorship.

Our leaders should engage with the people in a much more open dialogue on how major resource projects will advance our National Goals of integral human development, equality and participation, self-reliance and wise use of our natural resources.

How is this government going to ensure that we avoid repeating our own history by squandering our natural resources and worse fueling violence and leaving ordinary people to live in a 'social hell'?


Clearly the government is not listening and does not care. They are just thinking about their own selfish interests and have no bigger picture of what is right and wrong.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We need to have a large affluent middle class in order for the wealth to be spread more evenly

The Government is blinded by the egoist desires of its key ministerial and bureaucratic leaders, as such it can not see where it is heading.

It seems Dr Thomas Webster at the National Research Institute would agree with this article.

This is what he said earlier this month about the LNG project:

"Poor governance will mean that the large anticipated revenues from the planned LNG project will not enrich the country but continue to disappear into this black hole. These revenues will instead enrich a few powerful people at the expense of the rest of the population"

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