CORRUPTION has the potential to destroy Papua New Guinea’s booming economy if proper mechanisms are not put in place immediately, the chairman of Investigations Task Force Sweep, Sam Koim, told the 30th Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum in Cairns, last week.
“Whilst appreciating the fact that corruption can never be eradicated as long as we have human beings around,” Mr Koim said, “ideal societies tried to minimise it so that it does not stand in the way of national development nor deprive the masses of what is due to them.”
Mr Koim said corruption always has an element of growth and, every time one tries to close in on one trend of corruption and curb it, it develops into more complicated schemes and definitions.
He said the PNG LNG project which saw the first shipment of gas last week is projected to triple the PNG economy.
“PNG has a population estimated to be a little over seven million.
“Despite significant resource wealth from minerals, oil and gas, forestry and fishing, the vast majority of our population still lives a precarious subsistence farming existence with little or no access to the provisions of a modern state such as education, healthcare, sanitation or infrastructure such as roads.”
Mr Koim acknowledged the government’s efforts in putting ample resources to address the pressing needs of the people.
He said in terms of formal employment and business, most people are involved in the informal sector and a number of Papua New Guineans have successfully expanded their borders of doing business both within and outside of PNG.
A lot more opportunities were available to Papua New Guineans today than in the past.
“However, I have noted that globalisation has not only marked a new phase in the development of capitalism in our country, it has accelerated the pace of social change,” he said.
“It has infested the desire of individuals and groups to amass wealth. What globalisation has not done, among developing nations such as ours, is [create] the attitude - the desire - for capacity building, entrepreneurship, enterprise, productivity, critical knowledge, leadership qualities, hard work, competitiveness, introspection with regard to developing indigenous knowledge and technology.”
He said corruption is not a victimless crime because it affects everyone and it can stifle the economy and rob the future if people do not resolutely confront it today.
“It is for that reason that we have to identify the structures to confront corruption,” Mr Koim said.
“But before we build the appropriate structures, we must set the scene upon which those structures can be built, lest we proceed on assumptions.
“Sometimes, it serves us well to depart from theoretical economic frameworks and embrace our way, the Melanesian way. In so doing, we can devise structures that are compatible to our cultures and attitudes,” he said.