PNG Planning Minister Hon. Charles Abel welcomes Pacific planning experts

[Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea] – Papua New Guinea is seeking more strategic and responsible planning and budgeting for a future sustainable economy.

This was the underlying message from Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Planning, Honourable Charles Abel, as he welcomed a team of Pacific planning, budgeting and aid delivery experts currently in Port Moresby to carry out a Peer Review of development coordination.

At the invitation of the Government of Papua New Guinea, the PNG Peer Review team comprises Pacific Islands Forum country experts in planning, budgeting, public financial and aid management systems. They are Ms Noumea Simi from Samoa, Mr Johnson Naviti from Vanuatu, Mr Matthew Pativato from Solomon Islands and Mr Richard Woodham from New Zealand.

“Thank you for coming to participate in this important exercise to help with improving our development efforts,” said Minister Abel. “We are happy to participate – we need your feedback, we need your input as to how we can improve our systems of planning, budgeting and aid delivery.”

Minister Abel highlighted political stability as extremely important in building a sustainable economy, noting the recently concluded and extensive election process carried out in Papua New Guinea.

“We are trying to improve our development efforts through the translation of our planning processes and policies into more effective budgets and delivery of development to our people, particularly in the rural areas,” said Minister Abel. “The 2013 budget, currently being developed, is expected to reflect that sort of consciousness.” Minister Abel added that the development challenges faced by Papua New Guinea relate to delivery mechanisms.

“Development is just not translating the way we would like,” said Minister Abel. “One of the approaches we’re supporting is pushing the funding to lower levels of government – local and provincial – to move the funding back to the people.

“We want to meaningfully support this decentralisation theme that we’ve been talking about for some time. This will involve the national government’s role shifting to support that process through monitoring and evaluation and capacity building rather than trying to manage funds up here in Port Moresby.

“We’re trying very hard through various means, such as anticorruption measures, to stop the leakages from the system. How we improve that mechanism and how we improve the financial guidelines and procurement processes will be very important as we empower the districts and provinces.”

Minister Abel highlighted the Government’s push for more strategic plans for a future sustainable economy for Papua New Guinea.

“We wish to pick up on sustainability as a theme which I think really speaks to aid effectiveness,” said Minister Abel. “We want to demonstrate to our partners that we are now giving emphasis to that -population sustainability, food security, environment – and a way forward in terms of a sustainable economy.

“Rather than an open slather resource exploitation-based paradigm that we’ve been following, we want to change that and structure our development plans to be more responsible and more sustainable.”

The PNG Peer Review team will carry out three weeks of consultation with key government ministries and development partner, Non-Government Organisations and private sector representatives. The team’s consultations will take place in Port Moresby, Madang and the East New Britain province.

Peer Reviews, established under the Forum Compact by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2009, are an opportunity for mutual learning between Forum Island Countries to assist with improving their planning, budgeting and delivery of development programmes.

PNG is the eighth country to undertake the Forum Compact peer review process after Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Niue, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tonga.

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For further information please contact Mue Bentley Fisher from the Forum Secretariat via mueb@forumsec.org or +679 9998677/ +675 71404966 (PNG).

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