Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea on Corruption and Failed Church-State Partnership
The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea have been listening to the worries of our people and find that many concerns that have been raised before have still not been adequately addressed. We therefore bring them once again to the attention of our leaders.
The ongoing and costly issue of corruptionis still not being addressed in any meaningful way.
What has happened to the proposed Independent Commission against Corruption? The only ones benefiting from the delay in implementing this are the corrupt. When will this culture of impunity end?
There has been no improvement on the issue of Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABL), which still threatens to destroy the environment and livelihood of thousands of our people. Why is there no progress in addressing this?
Recently the issue of apparently corrupt contracts and overpricing of services has been exposed but there has been no response from our leaders. What is the problem?
Our repeated and recent pleas to do away with the inefficient practice of politicians involved in distributing funds has been ignored. And so, the problem remains and gets worse every year. We say again, this is an impractical, failed, and notoriously corrupt process and it has to stop.
The ongoing issue of the collapse of the partnership in educationand healthcontinues and gets worse.
With some exceptions, interference of politicians and public servants in appointments and selections to our agency schools is chronic. It is not only illegal but also destructive of the welfare of our students. We are spending our limited time and funds fighting for our rights in court. Why does this continue? Why is there no political will to respect the legitimate autonomy of church agencies? Here also we call on parents to make their voice heard when they know that teachers are guilty of any form of misconduct, but especially sexual misconduct involving students. Education authorities must conduct proper investigations when credible allegations are made.
From our point of view, if TFF was properly implemented, as it was in the first year, it could be a successful program. However, since then it has deteriorated, with funds being diverted we know not where, but certainly not arriving in the schools for infrastructure. Teaching materials, purchased with our TFF money, never arrive, or arrive too late, and are of poor quality. Fix TFF!
Our dedicated and hardworking health workers are treated abominably by repeated delays in allocating their pay, meagre as it is. This is destabilizing to them, creating an atmosphere of insecurity around their work, with consequences for the patients. It is also harmful to the administrators who must constantly look for stop gap solutions and constantly evaluate how long this can continue before it becomes necessary to close down our services for the safety of our workers and patients.
Our repeated questioning of why we are forced to buy basic medicines is met with a blank wall. Read our lips. MEDICINE IS NOT REACHING THE CLINICS AND HEALTH CENTRES. Where is it?
On behalf of the long-suffering people of Papua New Guinea, especially those in remote areas, we demand answers and we expect change. Things cannot continue as they are.
Bishop Rochus Tatamai MSC
President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
Bishop of the Diocese of Kavieng