Academic Urges Long-Term Plans for Underlying Issues in Papua New Guinea

Posted on 01 February 2024

After the rioting and looting in the country's main cities two weeks ago, Papua New Guinea (PNG) needs a long-term plan to address underlying issues," states Andrew Anton Mako, affiliated with the Australian National University's Development Policy Centre. The recent problems in PNG, triggered by unannounced wage deductions for police, exposed systemic dysfunction, resulting in over 20 deaths, widespread looting, and significant damage to businesses. The government attributed the wage issue to a system glitch during a declared two-week state of emergency. Mako criticizes the lack of development or reform in certain administrative areas over a generation and notes the absence of government machinery reviews in the last 20 years, suggesting that continuing the work initiated by Sir Mekere Morauta could have averted the current problems. 

Police were among those protesting after their fortnightly pay packets were short by up to 300 Kina ($120), approximately half the salary of a junior employee. Paul Barker, of the PNG Institute of National Affairs, suggests that the rapid spread of rioting messages on social media was likely encouraged by some political factions aiming to demonstrate government incompetence through chaos. He also highlights the issue of 1,300 government institutions lacking effective communication, leading to overlapping responsibilities. Barker concludes that while Papua New Guinea may not be labeled a failed state, it consistently fails its citizens. 

Photo by David_Peterson via Pixabay


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