The Central Provincial Assembly sat for its third assembly meeting and presented its Ministerial Statements on Friday 16th of November on the floor of the Central Provincial Assembly chambers.
Two most notable statements presented were the Central Provincial Government’s (CPG) Revenue and Expenditure Performance against the 2023 Annual Budget with key initiatives undertaken to support Central Province’s socio-economic growth and progress along with the Works and Transport statement.
In her capacity as chairlady for Finance, the Governor for Central Province Hon. Rufina Peter presented a favourable report amid the backdrop of rising prices of fuel and basic goods and services attributed to both international and domestic factors including the shortage of foreign currency, rising inflation and Russia-Ukraine war.
“Central Province has remained resilient and focused in our efforts to diversify the revenue base and for our local economy. We in the Central Province have some major developments projects in PNG such as the PNG LNG Project and have benefited from the revenue from the PNG LNG,” Governor Peter said.
She also revealed that the CPG is now working on some major economic projects that will change the economic landscape of the province.
These projects include the Papua LNG Project, which is at the preparatory stages. By the first quarter of 2024 an invitation to the Development Forum for the Papua LNG Project is expected, to negotiate with other key stakeholders including Gulf Provincial Government and the National Government.
Central Province will maximise its benefits as host to these two LNG projects along with the Kido Limestone Project, Tolokuma Gold Mine, the Forest operations in the Abau District and the Connect PNG Project.
In her statement, Governor Peter admitted that her government has not fully tapped into the renewable resources of agriculture, tourism and fisheries to commercially develop these industries.
“We are working together with the National Government and its agencies, and other key partners on new initiatives to expand our economic base on agriculture, fisheries and tourism projects such as the expansion of Rigo rice business model, the Goilala Coffee and Cocoa Development Projects in the coastal regions, and the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) for a couple of potential sites in the province.”
While Governor Peter has been hard at work initiating these projects for the effective revenue generation for the province to sustain the provision of public goods and services, consistent maintenance of existing infrastructure and developments of new infrastructure, the Governor revealed that more needs to be done by the CPG.
“I must be honest to highlight that in the last couple of months, I have found out that our service delivery mechanisms, especially the bureaucracy of the Central Provincial Administration (CPA) is very slow in collecting and generating revenue. CPG is and will continue to do its part to improve our governance processes for and the revenue collection and generation.”
Highlighting CPG’s revenue and expenditure, the Central Governor presented the following figures.
“From the total approved budget of K191, 267, 173, and the revised budget of K210, 547, 230 the total actual received to date is K136, 940, 883. This comprises of (i) iInternal rRevenue, (ii) Recurrent (Functional Grant Transfers) and (iii) Development Grants.”
The Governor called on the Assembly to stand united and deal with corruption, incompetencies, inefficiencies, insubordination and lack of professionalism, for fear of failing to perform duties and responsibilities as public servants and political leaders of today.
“When we do fail to perform our duties and responsibilities, we do injustice to the people and businesses of Central Province, not just today but for generations to come,” she said.
Following the Governor’s presentation of the financial report, elder statesman and Abau MP Sir Puka Temu commended Governor Peter.
“In my 20 years here in this Assembly, this is the first time that a sitting Governor has presented a financial report to this Assembly. Governor, it’s comforting to know the status of the budget and I want to commend you on the excellent work you have done.”
Sir Temu called for tougher penalties when he drew reference to Governor’s concluding remarks on corruption and ineffeciencies with the CPA.
“Governor, I want to suggest that stronger penalties are due, I am tired of hearing that the Governor has allocated funds and directives for work to be carried out and nothing is done by the Provincial Administration.”
“This has to stop and we cannot allow this to continue, we need to find out where the problem is and get a surgical knife and cut it out, I suggest a one-to-three people ‘razor team’ to find out why this is happening, because I do not want to come back in 2024 and see that Governor has done her part but nothing has been done by the administration so all you heads of divisions, take note.”
Other statements presented were the Works and Transport Statement, including the Tourism Statement and the Commerce and Extractive Industry Statement.
The Central Provincial Assembly adjourned to the 19th of December for their final sitting for the passing of the 2024 Budget.