26 Apr 2007

PNG MP says government has failed the country's vast rural population

8:04 pm on 26 April 2007

An outspoken Papua New Guinea MP says the government has become irrelevant to the rural majority which sees it as a social welfare system for politicians and bureaucrats.

Jamie Maxtone-Graham, the parliamentary leader of the PNG Kantri Pati, says 85 percent of PNG's population live in rural areas but most could not develop wealth because governments had failed to get the rural economy moving.

Speaking in the lead-up to the national election in June, he says government is focussed excessively on infrastructure projects such as roads and sewerage in Port Moresby, but very little trickled down to rural communities.

The Anglimp South Waghi MP says PNG needed to develop its human resources and boost rural development to become an economically smart nation.

He says rural areas are being neglected and the nation's wealth is being siphoned off by people in power, often in league with business associates.

Mr Maxtone-Graham says if corruption was allowed to flourish and the wealth of the nation ended in the hands of a few, civil strife and even coups could happen.