An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Slushie Sense

Some sense has come across finally in PNG .. or at least to a couple of its members of parliament. Member for Nuku, Mr Andrew Kumbakor, had previously proposed an increase to the MP's "slush fund" from 500,000 kina to 1.5 million kina per year. Now he has had the sense to withdraw the bill.

In case you didn't know, the 500,000 is for the MPs to do as so he or she wishes for their electorate and here is the best part for the member .. without any accountability. You can see why it is popular to become a MP here. "woohoo, I have 500,000 to give back to my wantoks, after all, they helped me get elected anyway".

The reasoning behind the increase was of course that the MPs needed it so they could provide services to their community. Despite the fact that after the 500,000 now being in place for the last 4 or 5 years many electorates have seen zero benefits.

If the thing hadn't been withdrawn it looks like it would almost have been passed unanimously. All the MPs were supporting it, all the public was in anger. Most saying correctly that there was already existing methods of allocating funds for projects, without the need for an unaccountable slush fund.

Global corruption watchdog Transparency International was the driving force behind getting the bill rejected or withdrawn. Their petitions in the daily newspapers seems to have been a major factor in helping the conscience of Mr Kumbakor, and justifiably the PNG chairman of TI, Mike Manning, is quite a happy chappie at the moment.

On the same day that the slush fund bill was withdrawn, another controversial bill was also withdrawn. This time the member of Lagaip-Porgera, Mr Karpa Yarka, had put forward a bill to amend the Leadership Code. It would have allowed MPs to be exempt from dismissal from the parliament in case they were found guilty of an offence.

More sense. Can it be true that there are MPs in this country who have a conscience, and not just looking to board the good-time gravy train?