PNG guest workers given green light
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Political stoush on poverty comments

Sir Michael Somare has defended his comments at a Canberra press conference last week where he said no one went hungry in PNG.

Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta subsequently criticised the Prime Minister for saying there was no poverty in PNG, saying that many people were starving and the majority of people still lacked basic services.

Sir Michael launched a stinging attack on the Opposition, strongly defending his Government’s track record since taking the reins seven years ago and questioned what Sir Mekere was doing to improve services in his own Moresby Northwest electorate.

“There has been a lot of finger pointing going on by some urban Members of Parliament and I want to know what these urban Members, especially the leader of the Opposition, have done with the increases in their allocations over the last four or so years.

“Has Gerehu police station been improved to better serve the community? I hear Baruni dump being brought up in the media recently. Can the local Member (Sir Mekere) tell us how he has used his district allocation to assist in alleviating urban poverty? With the district road improvement programme, are there new roads in these urban electorates?” Sir Michael asked.

“We have given each of the 89 districts adequate funds since the first term of this Government. In the first year, it was K1 million, then K4 million and recently K10 million.

“Yes, we lack material wealth in rural areas where the vast majority of our people live but they are not short of food and water,” the Prime Minister said.

He said social services should be improving with the resources that his Government had been continuously pouring into all Government departments and districts. “It is not for me to make inspections of aid posts and schools; it’s the responsibility of managers in those sectors.

“We recognise that there are deficiencies and have ploughed money into the districts to complement the work of departments such as police, Works, Transport, Health and Education,” the Prime Minister said.

He said the public sector was a stumbling block, making delivery of services to districts difficult.


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