Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Drivers of the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050



DIFFERENT aspects of the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 (PNG-V2050) are to be addressed in this series of commentaries.  

Subsequent articles will focus on specific topics of interest and discuss along similar lines as this one.  It is intended to educate the general public, stimulate national consciousness, encourage nationalism and patriotism, persuade decision-makers, raise issues for further debate and decision, create awareness, and convince heads of statutory and lead government agencies to proactively align their work and/or activity plans with the aspirations of the PNG-V2050.

Papua New Guinea, a land of thousand tribes and diverse cultures was united at Independence through the Constitution of the Independent State of PNG. Symbolisms that unite PNG as one independent nation include; the national anthem, the national flag, the national currency, the National Parliament and systems and processes of governing an independent sovereign state of Papua New Guinea.  Now we have a National Vision for developing and shaping our country and how we want this country to be in 40 years time through PNG-V2050.

I have taken the liberty to provide commentaries on various aspects of the PNG-V2050 through this avenue.  The commentaries are my personal interpretations and understanding of the greater vision encapsulated in the PNG-V2050 and what we as a nation and as individuals could do to contribute towards collective realization of the vision.  Some of my comments may be controversial while others may auger well with those in power.  The objective however, is to provide advice, suggestions, encouragement, instill confidence, promote avenue for further debate and refine or refocus our common goals in the light of changing environment, and discourage practices that impede realization of the spirit of the PNG-V2050. 

The PNG-V2050 envisions that Papua New Guinea, its institutions, its people and the people's mindset and attitude will be transformed to make Papua New Guinea become a smart, wise, fair, healthy, and happy society by the year 2050.

Mobilization and Alignment by Government Departments and Statutory Bodies
The acting Chief Secretary to the Government, Mr. Manasupe Zurenuoc didn't mince his words when he summoned all the Heads of Government Departments, Statutory Organizations and Constitutional Office holders to a briefing session on 21st December 2009.

The acting Chief Secretary to the Government called on the heads of departments and statutory bodies and constitutional office holders in no uncertain terms that all government departments must revisit their Corporate Plans or Annual Work plans to align with the spirit of the PNG-V2050.  He directed that it is now up to us to ensure that the PNG-V2050 is given an opportunity to influence the way we have planned our activities and channel our resources, direct our energies and most importantly focus our activities and actions that will facilitate realization of the PNG-V2050.

The PNG-V2050 focuses on seven strategic focal areas.  The seven focal areas are:
a) Human Capital Development, Gender, Youth and People Empowerment;
b) Wealth Creation;
c) Institutional Development and Service Delivery;
d) Security and International Relations;
e) Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change;
f) Spiritual, Cultural, and Community Development; and
g) Strategic Planning, Integration and Control

These focal areas are the basis for all agencies of government to align their individual Corporate Plans to synchronize or harmonize with the ideals of the PNG-V2050.  This must happen in 2010, the year in which PNG-V2050 is to be implemented.

In order for the PNG-V2050 to even get a foothold in the mainstream of government and guide the activities of the individual and collective systems of government in the right direction, it is critical to accommodate and adopt a new mindset that creates a stimulus for excellence over and beyond what has happened in the past 35 years.

The heads of government departments, statutory bodies and constitutional office holders are intelligent people in their own right to take heed of the Chief Secretary's desire to align their individual corporate and annual work plans.  The government is desirous that PNG-V2050 is adopted by every state institution in its corporate plan.

I had the opportunity to attend two or three other meetings convened by the acting Chief Secretary.  I however, noticed that there were several heads of government department who do not attend such meetings or deliberately avoid attending briefing meetings called by the acting Chief Secretary to the Government.  Lack of commitment on the part of the heads of department and statutory organizations to attend such meeting demonstrates their lack of commitment to matters of national significance. If no formal apologies were sent to the acting Chief Secretary to the Government then their absence is a clear evidence of insubordination and it is incumbent upon the Chief Secretary to take them to task.  If such a lax attitude is to be allowed and more importantly such attitude further translates into not aligning or misaligning the individual corporate plans to the PNG-V2050, we will have just created a major recipe for disaster of  Herculean proportion in the year 2050 for PNG. 

The first step is very important in any journey and the journey embarked by the Somare-Temu government to make Papua New Guinea become a smart, wise, fair, healthy, and happy society by the year 2050 will remain just that - vision as many a critics have already sounded (Dokup 2009 & Mam 2009).  Some have even stated that the vision is unrealistic and difficult to quantify and measure (Public Servant 2010).

Political leadership has provided a road map and a broader vision for PNG through the PNG-V2050.  The Prime Minister's dream of such a plan and vision has materialized and we now have PNG-V2050.  It is absolutely critical that the members of the coalition partners in the government must also give undivided support to the PM and the PNG-V2050.  That support should be demonstrated by their respective ministers and their bureaucratic leaders in the public service to operationalize the PNG-V2050. 

This is the golden opportunity for political leaders and bureaucratic leaders to create a new and better PNG for our future generation.  It is now the responsibility of the senior members of the public service starting from the heads of government department and statutory organizations to take their cue from the government of the day and proceed in earnest by aligning their organizational and sector plans with the PNG-V2050.  We cannot wait any longer and give excuses.  This nation has had enough excuses where politicians blame the public servants over lack of service delivery and the public servants blame the government for the poor working conditions over the last three decades.

The acting Chief Secretary was quoted as stating that only 10 per cent of the public servants are hardworking while the majority of them are useless (Philemon 2009).  If that has any merit at all, then 10 per cent of the public servants have been slogging away unsuccessfully to deliver government services to the 6 million people while the 90 percent of us have been drawing salary without making any impact in PNG that directly or indirectly touches the people in a positive way.  This implies that the majority of the public servants have been busy serving their individual interest, thus directly or indirectly contributing towards the many social problems in PNG.

On the other hand, the government of the day must also take the bull by the horns and make sure that any new appointments to the heads of government department and statutory organizations from 2010 onwards are made with the PNG-V2050 in mind.  Whoever is appointed to head the different departments and statutory organizations and even the constitutional office must be conversant with the new language of long-term development captured in the PNG-V2050.  Not only do they have to be conversant with the new vision and its terminology but also have the right attitude and mindset to passionately drive with the PNG-V2050 as the ultimate plan for development in PNG. In fact, it must be a requirement that the applicant/candidate must demonstrate knowledge of the PNG-V2050 and how they would personally ensure that their employment will facilitate the implementation of the PNG-V2050.

The acting Chief Secretary (with advice from the core group of few advisors tasked with coordinating and strategizing the implementation of the PNG-V2050) could have also set a deadline for Heads of Departments, Statutory Organizations and Constitutional Officers to provide his office evidence of their realignment exercise as further evidence of their commitment and concurrence with the government's PNG-V2050.  Only then would we be sure that agencies of government are serious and genuine about implementing the PNG-V2050 in the different departments and agencies.   

It is not good enough to appoint political cronies to positions of strategic importance in the light of the PNG-V2050.  We have seen enough disasters in terms of worsening socio-economic indicators stacked up against PNG over the last three decades due to many bad decisions in misapplying resources under undue political pressures. If we were to be any 'smarter' then such lessons should be our guiding signpost to circumvent similar detrimental effects on this nation.  If we as a nation fail to put up credible and intelligent individuals in senior management positions in the government and statutory organizations who can read and articulate the PNG-V2050 and translate positively into their organizational corporate and work plans then there is every chance that we are weakening the potential for this vision to meet its targeted outcome by the year 2050. 

For example, Gazettal of any position vacant should require candidates to show evidence of their commitment to the PNG-V2050 and whether they have special expertise, knowledge, skills and values that will facilitate and promote the effective implementation of the sector's corporate plan to synchronize with the PNG-V2050.  If a battle is to be won, the commanders of the different units must have practical knowledge about the war plan provided by the strategic unit of the war planners and each will strategize accordingly in order to achieve the common objective of the battle.  It requires everybody to make their individual contributions towards achieving the PNG-V2050. 

The Prime Minister has stated that: '...PNG-V2050 will not be up and running if we do not take full ownership of it at every level of our society (Business Times 2009).  Sir Michael will not be around and so will many of us but are we committed to ensuring a better future for our children and their children?  Do we want a better future for our children and their children? We must all be proactive and make our personal contribution in one way or the other to realize the PNG-V2050 dream.

An enabling statement from the PNG-V2050 on bureaucratic leadership states: "The effective and efficient implementation of Vision 2050 will demand honest, innovative, proactive and inspiring leadership from all heads of departments, middle-level managers and lower-level managers.  Effective coordination with the political leadership is critical to ensure systemic change.  A culture of excellence in the public sector, based on the core values of quality, productivity, discipline, accountability and professionalism will enable the implementation of Vision 2050".  Hence, appointment of high caliber public servants is not only a must but very critical to successful implementation of the PNG-V2050.

I have been fortunate to attend Papa Sam's introductory seminar on Personal Viability Training as part of the National Strategic Plan Task Force sanctioned 'changing the mind-set' agenda.  I realized how much I have yet to discover within me to be the person I could have been had I been encouraged to think and act differently from the way others have wanted me to be in life.  Somebody asked me what I thought about the introductory seminar presented by Papa Sam and my response was; 'My personal bank balance would have looked more respectable and sufficient to earn the right to be called a millionaire if only I was taught differently towards rich thinking habits'.  Are we working towards developing 'rich thinking habits' or 'poor thinking habits'?  What should be the legacy your children should inherit from you?  

Personal viability is the type of training that must be introduced into our school system in order to create a 'paradigm shift' in the way we behave and act towards each other and how we perform in our work places.  The values espoused by the PNG-V2050 and the mind-sets required to achieve PNG-V2050 can be best achieved with the type of Personal Viability training conducted by Mr. Sam Tam.  It has life changing benefit and PNG can change for the better with personal viability training by providing the most needed mind-set and attitude change so badly required in Papua New Guinea.  The rich mind-set change that we require in PNG to change from 'poor thinking habits' to 'Rich thinking habits' is no doubt provided by Personal Viability training.

Papua New Guinea is awash with many different kinds of short to medium term plans and PNG-V2050 is the grandest of them all.  This is the first of its kind to have such a long term plan spanning 40 years.  It has set very high benchmarks for all agencies and sectors of government to align their individual corporate and work plans to make Papua New Guinea become a smart, wise, fair, healthy, and happy society by the year 2050. 

To achieve this vision, we also need leaders at strategic departments and agencies who are also smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy so that with these characteristics they in turn will live out their characters in their decisions, actions, resource allocation, dealings with others and in particular implementing the PNG-V2050.  The period 2010 to 2020 is very critical and will require highly motivated servants of the state with the right attitude, values, mind-set, and character. There is no shortage of people with these characteristics so the appointing authorities must always bear this in mind in the greater interest of the 'new' Papua New Guinea that PNG-V2050 envisages to create. 

Political cronyism has no place in the first decade of the PNG-V2050 plan period.  Appointing people based on grounds other than the spirit of PNG-V2050 are like condoning a major defect in a structure, (the analogous house structure on page (ii) of the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050).  Any slightest deviation from this is like deliberately contributing towards weakening the physical structure with a potential for eventual collapse of the PNG-V2050.  PNG must put its best people into strategic positions that will ensure that the spirit of the PNG-V2050 is given a fair opportunity to take a root in fertile soil where it will bear the fruit that we aspire as smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy Papua New Guinea by the year 2050.

The views, opinions, suggestions and imputations made here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Research Institute and the Sunday Chronicle.  Dr Sinebare is the Deputy Director at the National Research Institute. He was a Technical Advisor to the National Strategic Plan Task Force, for Institutional Development and Service Delivery pillar.

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