The most revealing aspect of the ADB study is not the information put forward by the writers in support of Privatisation but of the lack of critical information that the study should have generated in assisting policy debate in PNG as to how PNG can solve the lack of basic services to the bulk of its people in terms of the Provision for the Supply of Clean Treated Piped Water.
The supply of Electricity to each house and the cost of supplying and providing durable Housing to the 7 million People of PNG . The Debate on Privatisation in PNG ended with the removal of Sir Mekere as Prime Minister in 2002 following the loss of life’s and national indignation directed at the World Bank Structural adjustment Program and on Native Land registration Agenda which is the other critical pillar of the Privatisation debate.
Privatisation has led Ireland and Greece to the brink of Bankruptcy and is a path that PNG has chosen not to follow. The undervalued sale of PNGBC and the near sale of Telikom PNG for less than its market value is not lost on Papua New Guineans. PNG needs the ADB and other international Development Partners to help introduce first world Management Practices and cultures into our SOE ‘s so that we too can reach the level of successful SOE’s in the Region particularly to the level enjoyed by SOES in Singapore.[ where only a one liner was mentioned in passing with reference to Tamasek Holding , who incidentally is the Holder of the Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund ] In the appendix to the report no data was available on the number of households connected to Power in PNG. Yet many of us know that 98 % of household in PNG is not connected by Power.
The influence of Electricity on households is Transformational and the sooner we can generate meaningful debate as to how we can achieve this goal the better it is for the country. The same is true for the provision of Water where the report gives a figure of 15,736 in terms of household connected to clean treated piped drinking water [ figure from PNG Water Board] Again when will we start talking about how to deliver clean water to the other 7 million People that also live in this country. It is also sad that no study and costing have been made on the Provision of housing for all our People.
In a country where only 250,000 people out of 7 million pay income tax the State will continue to play a pivotal role in Providing free Medical , Education and inevitably free Water, Power and Housing to 7 million of our People that live in some 10,000 villages through PNG . To finance this the Department of Treasury must now have to put out desktop studies to let policy makers know how much it will cost the nation to provide these basic services to all our people and to also provide policy makers different Modula’s as to how we can finance this basic services into the immediate future on a sustainable basis.
In this context the ADB frame work and solutions is not the Answer to reducing poverty in PNG or in increasing the quality of life for our People.