Australian aid is a strategic investment
Australia and NZ are ‘losing the Pacific’

Charles Lepani moderates his criticism


Perhaps thinking he’d gone to far in an earlier public statement, PNG’s High Commissioner to Australia, Charles Lepani, has said it’s time to stop hammering the Australian aid program over ineffective use of taxpayer money.

Reports of corruption and fraud have dogged the aid program and a review, demanded by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, will be made public next month.

Mr Lepani admits that half of the $450 million of annual Australian aid to his country has been ineffectively spent.

But he says steps are being taken to rectify the issue.

“There is a review - and also Kevin Rudd and Michael Somare, have agreed that some of these funds should be redirected to private sector and NGOs who can do a better job of delivering services to rural PNG.

“So on both sides there are problems. But right now both sides are working to eliminate those so we should not hammer the effort.”


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Robin Lillicrapp

This may also alter the historic outlook of local communities in their relations with NGO's and other private sector operators who formerly operated as benefactors, not contractors.

The expectations of locals may be brightened by increased access to services but skewed by traditional partisan rivalry over division of benefit.

I see this especially as Church groups attempt to disseminate aid and services. The potential for them to be diverted from primarily spiritual outlooks to a secular operation bound by administrative paradigms imposed by donor governments is high.

Much wisdom is need by donors and contracted parties to see that fundamental objectives are achieved with minimal loss of independence through overly intrusive interference.

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