The country’s national political leaders and respected managers of public and private sector institutions were challenged to provide the required leadership based on values and moral principles if Papua New Guinea was to advance in its development aspirations.
National Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel emphasised this during a two days leadership summit held at Kokopo, East New Britain.
It was a two days summit convened from June 22 to 23, 2015.
The aim of the summit ultimately was to form “coalitions of the willing” to build a fellowship of like minded leaders across the nation who can inspire and influence those around them to take action.
It was also viewed as an intervention to bring together politicians and leaders in key sectors or areas that can make urgent and significant impact on critical areas of the government’s various development agenda.
A greater emphasis during presentations and discussions was on the implementation of government’s recently launched development principles of responsible sustainable development or StaRS.
StaRS in a nutshell stresses that we do not undertake development activities that compromise the world’s biodiversity or puts our children’s future at risk.
National political leaders who attended the summit included Speaker of Parliament Theodore Zurenouc, Higher Education Research Science and Technology Minister Malakai Tabar, Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso, Usino-Bundi MP Anton Yagama and Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Tobias Kulang.
East New Britain Governor Ereman ToBaining Jnr welcomed the leaders and guests to Kokopo by hosting a dinner after the first conference day.
He also said at the launching of the summit that his provincial government was serious about “arresting service delivery declines” and they have strategized to improve the skills of public servants and for their heads of departments, they have included performance measurement standards in the their contracts.
Minister Abel who spoke after Governor Ereman ToBaining was blunt saying he does not want the summit to be another “talk fest.”
“Our government is about action ultimately,” he said.
“We just got to make sure that through all those proposes and meetings and documentation, the objective at the end of the day is to translate into action and provide meaningful outcomes for our people.”
“We should constantly remind us of this, especially those of us in the ministerial position and other positions of leadership or what not.”
“There are endless series of meetings we seem to attend,” he said.
Abel who is the second term MP for Alotau said people at the grass roots level are on daily basis confronted with despair in the areas of poor health and education- two few among other poor service delivery concerns.
“We have to do something about it, we have to change the approach we use to development,” Abel said.
He told the summit participants that they were selected to attend and share ides to move PNG forward in improving the socio-economic status because “they were leaders in their own right.”
Former government’s chief secretary Robert Igara and Professor David Kavanamur who chaired the team that crafted the popular Vision 2050 plan were among the summit participants.
Abel said the O’Neill-Dion government believes it was time the development approaches the country takes were strategic, it responds to what is happening in the world and recognizing the mistakes we make over and over again and so we do not repeat them.
The development approach must also be wary that we do not exploit our natural resources.
“And we have to do something smarter,” he said.
“I can assure you that this is an executive government policy and the Prime Minister is right behind this.”
“Many of these ideas are not new, they are the old ideas founded in the Constitution.”
Abel challenged leaders that most often they do not live by what they say and it was discouraging for the people.
“We make wonderful statements, we beat our chests and swing the bible around and talk about sustainable development and then human development and then in fact what we often do is the opposite,” he said.
“And I think our country is guilty of that.”
“Many of us are guilty of not living those principles.”
He said so much money from the development of oil, gas and minerals totaling up to about K 150 billion was made in the recent past but there is no evidence of that money impacting on people’s lives.
“Where is the evidence of that money,” he said.
“We need gas and gold projects but we need to better translate that money through Sovereign Wealth Fund and better government processes, systems and process to procurement to deliver those outcomes, and deliver where it should go.”
“Not a lot of that is happening,” he told participants.
Abel said leaders need to behave responsibly and it will ignite that transformation of good governance and service delivery is trickled down to communities.
“Nothing will happen if we talk about it and leaders don’t do it.”
Abel and his National Planning and Monitoring Secretary Hakaua Harry and staff have worked together and developed the responsible sustainable development strategy (StaRS) and the Medium term Development Plan (2), which is for 2016 and 2017.
The first MTDP expired this year.
It is envisioned that a new government that is formed after the 2017 National General Elections will develop MTDP (3) which will be for five years, 2017 to 2022.
The government has decided that development plans must be in line with political life cycles.