Is the District Service Improvement Program Working?
It is sad really to read every week that rural people are fixing their roads with their hands so that cars can run to and from their villages, like the story we have today about that community at Kudjip in South Waghi, Jiwaka Province.
They have to take up their spades and bush knives to do the work because the machines are not coming.
It will cost money to engage machines and they are too poor to hire the heavy earthmoving equipment. But the story is even sadder when one learns that the road they are repairing is a provincial road or a national road – meaning the responsibility is with the provincial government or the national government. The road assets in this country are the lifelines of PNG, the arteries that pump the life sustaining nutrients to the body.
It’s time MPs account for the District Service Improvement Program funds.
In the name of transparency, accountability and good governance, this must happen. It is of interest to every Papua New Guinean in this country to know how their 89 Open MPs have used their DSIP funds.
The reasons are not hard to find. There are communities that are building their own roads or fixing existing ones. There are mothers that are walking long distances with loads of garden produce on their backs to go to the market to sell to make some money to buy essential items for their families. There about communities that walk to long distances to get water or to get to the nearest health facilities to get treatment. You read about their plight every week in your number one daily. These are happening because their MPs have failed them.
It is our considered view that this should not be happening at all in PNG. The reason, being the District Services Improvement Program (DSIP), in which every Open Member of Parliament is entitled to K10 million every year.
When the Government tabled the 2011 budget of more than K9 billion, the 20 Open MPs were each given money under the DSIP.
In the last three years, from 2008 to 2010, all Open MP picked up accumulative total of K600 million, with each MP getting K30 million to spend in the electorates in that period.
We say without reservation that K10 million or K30 million, is a lot of money in anybody’s language. The concept behind the DSIP, we are informed, is for the Open MPs to use that money to top up funding shortfalls on projects and programs that are designed and executed in the electorates by the Provincial Governments or the National Government. That means, we are told, maintaining existing services.
So in line with this, all 89 electorates in PNG must see some impact projects over the last three years and the people must be seeing some changes in their lives. If this is not happening, something is definitely very wrong here.
The Open MPs, the Office of Rural Development and all relevant agencies must account to the people, who claim first right over this money. The MPs are not above the law, and where there are complains, investigations must be carried out, honestly to account for the use of the funds.
For the first time, the Open MPs in the current term of Parliament are getting more money than ever before. Papua New Guineans have a right to expect better things in their electorate, and the MPs owe it to them to do the right thing.
But if the MPs have been treating the DSIP funds as their discretionary funds, without putting anything tangible on the ground for their people, then this program should be scrapped, as millions of kina is going to waste., but then again, who is going to do it. The MPs won’t.