4 Nov 2013

PNG Public Service Minister sees accountability creeping in

5:44 pm on 4 November 2013

Papua New Guinea's Minister for Public Service says the language of accountability is starting to gain a foothold in the public sector.

Sir Puka Temu's comment comes as the government has approved the creation of a National Planning Committee, which will monitor the implementation of the budget every two weeks.

The Prime Minister will chair meetings of the committee, which is tasked with ensuring that all objectives in the national budget are achieved.

Johnny Blades asked Sir Puka how he felt about criticism that MPs have done very little over many years to improve the delivery of basic services to PNG's people.

PUKA TEMU: I can tell you that there's a lot of genuineness on the part of the leaders to catch up with the rest of the world with regards to developing their constituencies and ensuring that the economy is growing at a pace that we would want and ensuring the big budget that we have for 2013 is implemented.

JOHNNY BLADES: As the minister for such a crucial sector, how do you reform it, because it hasn't been reformed in so long? There are still problems.

PT: You know, this is a big elephant. (Chuckles) But we're now putting plans together to catch up with our population rate. We are now training more policemen. We are now going to move to the training programmes for teachers and health workers and we're looking at outsourcing, for example, the audit programme. So we will tender and outsource it to private companies so they keep an eye on the actual management of the resources that are coming to all sectors, including provincial and local level government. So that's the language now - I think the language of accountability, the language of fighting corruption, is what the prime minister is really pushing at the moment. Our institutions are still young and we don't have the capacity, but we will build them over time.

JB: Ordinary people seem increasingly vocal about unfairness and the way some public contracts are given out. And often the work, whether it be on a road or a hospital, is not fully completed and there's not transparency around the process.

PT: We have a capacity issue, not only in government, but also the private sector. That is why we are looking at how do we restructure the procurement processes, make it more speedy and also monitor the implementation. And now the prime minister has picked it up. He says there will be a committee and he himself will chair that national planning committee. And his target is monitoring the implementation of all the products that are funded, major projects that are funded in the budget. So you can see that the prime minister is committed. You can see that the government is listening to the people. And over time we will build our capacity, both in the public sector and the private sector.