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03 January 2014

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Yes Keith, the government has awarded the 48,000 plus teachers in PNG a 10% increase in salary and allowance to compensate them for the hardship they endure.

It will be effected in January this year and most likely in the second pay period.

At least there are some positive developments happening under the current government and, as commentators, we need to acknowledge them as well as giving prominence to the negative or bad decisions. It's a pity that the opposite is often the case.

The O'Neill government's allocation of K34.8 million to remunerate village magistrates is a vast step in promoting peace and justice in distant areas of PNG.

A similar priority to support school teachers in small villages would be another great step in the national education system and national unity.

Thank you Francis for that explanation. If a system is working then by all means keep it going.

My experience is that no matter where you go, people are the same the world over. Not surprising really since we are all from the same gene pool. The same problems therefore keep rearing their head unless those affected start learning from history or from the mistakes of others.

If the public service being performed by village courts can keep lower level legalities from escalating then they and the system are clearly beneficial. If it doesn't cost the state anything then so much the better.

What has occurred elsewhere and in the past is that anyone who is a public servant and paid directly by the clients for their services often end up using the system for their own advantage and to the ultimate disadvantage of the people their are charged with protecting. The highest bidder then becomes the beneficiary of the official's decision. Those who are familiar with the story of Robin Hood will recognise the characterisation of the Sheriff of Nottingham as the villain.

If rural PNG people are able to keep the system honest, transparent and free of corruption, then they appear to have made a significant break with the system used by many of their previous Parliamentary representatives.

It all sounds great, Francis. It just goes to show that the village people are not the real culprits. It's the people who have "come into the money" in Moresby who are the main problem. They don't understand the value of money and so much is wasted.

I forgot to mention that the Attorney General Kerenga Kua's electorate of Sinasina-Yongomugl in the Simbu province is the first district in PNG that village court officials are paid fortnightly allowance ranging from K150-250 under the DSID grant. And the main condition is that one must earn the money. Truly like you said Barbara, there has been a remarkable improvement in their work. Apart from courts, they do patrols and destroy home brews and marijuana cultivations that previously they ignored.

Phil and Paul, the K50 is a fixed service fee that both parties of a dispute pay the court officials. At the end of the sitting, the officials share the fee as sitting allowance. Apart from this there are no other fees being collected although I think there are provisions for penalty fines payable to the state. Since peace mediation is the paramount role of the village courts, amicable compensation order against the offender has often been the verdict.

If the magistrates end up keeping the fines they impose then it sounds like a direct conflict of interest.

'Who will guard the guards themselves?'

Just out of curiousity, what happens to any fines that they collect?

When there is a land dispute during mineral and oil exploration these men and women (their are lots of female magistrates) are called on to mediate and they do a good job.

The companies pay them for their time, as they do police and other government officers who assist them, simply because the national government is so bad at paying its public servants out in the sticks.
__________

Francis suggests that the fines end up with the magistrates - KJ

Thank you, Francis, for this fine story about PNG's quiet achievers when it comes to law and order at the village level.

PNG village community life couldn't function properly without them.
I hope they will be given an income to cover their costs and extra money to give them an incentive to do a good job.

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