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22 February 2013


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"Fat arse hanging over the saddle". I like it.

I believe that there are systems in place to keep public servants honest, however they are not energised.

I really believe that all public servants and politicians should face financial auditing relating to the actions they have direct responsibility for.

For instance, high school headmasters are rotated between schools with no audit of financial expenditures in their previous schools.

Town and district managers are transferred without acquitting their previous positions.

Council presidents have discretionary funds of K250,000 to spend as they wish, I have never heard of any of them being audited or acquittals made.

All presidents should be audited prior to the next council election, otherwise they will have a big temptation to misuse these discretionary funds to the detriment of other candidates.

I find it difficult to believe that more expensive and tighter financial control of our politicians and public servants would be counterproductive.

A flood of money would be released from corrupt practices to be available for development.

The PNG public service functioned well in the first decade or so after Independence. But then it became 'politicized', and the laws governing the public service and 'service delivery' started to change. With these changes, no training was provided to adjust to the new system(s) to understand and manage the changes being introduced through these legislations. It led to political leaders working the system to get what they wanted. The blame lies on their shoulders. It's the head that must change in order to bring changes to the public service, I believe.

Unfortunately, David, I saw first hand evidence of the wantok system at work when I was in PNG, admittedly many years ago.

I was summonsed to Port Moresby from my north coast station to give evidence on behalf of a villager whose investment had been stolen by an Investment Bank official.

I sat in my hotel room for two days waiting to be called to court only to be excused as the case had been dropped.

An argument developed between the Police who called me and my department over who was to pay my expenses.

I learned later that the bank official's brother was a senior police officer who had arranged for the charges to be not proceeded with. The poor villager lost his money.

The wantok system was alive then and from all evidence, I believe is still alive today.

And what's happening in the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW right now?

Macdonald, Obeid and others - it's a cesspit of corruption.

And NSW has an upper house.

Rossco, I was being a bit tongue in cheek. The problem as I see it is that you can't mix and match the two cultures.

Sure you will always get corruption in a public service but unless you have a regime that ultimately holds people to account, there will always be a problem and never a solution.

That tired old excuse about the wantok system being a cause of corruption in the PNG public service is a joke. Else we all would be corrupt!

PNG public servants are under no more pressure from their wantoks than the rest of us in the private sector and elsewhere.

I'm afraid those immoral, corrupt pigs have nowhere to hide anymore. They must find some quiet time to go sit down and listen to that little voice from within.

I'm a bit dubious about the "day of enlightenment" idea because it just can't and doesn't happen like that because even with the code of conduct and signed undertakings, you still have the same set of people in the public service.

They will be still subject to the tribal pressures and daily temptations that underpin their existing conduct. They will still have the same peple overseeing their conduct.

As a career public servant in Australia, I have worked under the conditions recommended here and seen the corruption that still occurs.

For it to work in PNG, the whole public service would need to be replaced which just can't happen overnight.

The system would need a code of expected conduct, a set of rules and penalties for breaches that are signed to by all public servants.

Finally, to make it work, effective education and enforcement is needed to be driven from the top down and bottom up including an effective whistleblower/reward program.

Can this happen in today's PNG public sector environment?

Yes, it's a really sad state of affairs when there is no accountability in the public service and hardly any law enforcement when procedure or laws are broken.

An employee can be suspended, or terminated for mismanagement, theft or fraud, but it seems that it's too hard for the employer to lay charges (and that goes for the private sector too).


Any comment on or from the current Ministry of Public Service?

In the state PNG is in this ministry should be attached to the PM's office by an umbilical cord.

At the risk of offending some, I suggest that the concept of trying to improve a sick system from within will always fail. It’s rather like attaching ‘bandaids’ to a dead person. The concept of helping is laudable but in practice its useless and a total waste of money and resources.

The concept of ‘Strongim Gavaman’ and any AusAID program aimed at enhancing the PNG Public Service is basically flawed because the expectation of a responsible and accountable public service is a ‘western concept’ predicated on the necessity of effective time and resource management.

For many years I have suggested (in truth, on this very blog), that the only way to effectively improve government services in PNG is to rule off and start again.

A special ’day of enlightenment’ should be gazetted by the government and on that day, effectiveness and efficiency recommences. Public Servants would be required to sign a legally binding contract that required proper attendance and due diligence thereafter and at the risk of dismissal should they be found wanting in either area.

This is nothing new and amazingly seems to work in other countries that enjoy at least the semblance of a government system that works.

Too far fetched you reckon? Too prescriptive? Give me a period of six months of re-education and training and the responsibility and authority to make it happen without political interference, and I’ll lay a bet it would work.

Yet that’s the rub isn’t it? Would the PNG government be prepared to make it happen or indeed to have it happen? Husat isave?

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