Giving autonomy to provinces will resolve PNG's governance woes

31/05/2012 07:34


PNG's cultural diversity continues to present challenges for central government.


By guest blogger Manu Bobola

Singapore's success can be attributed to their benevolent dictator who instilled authoritarian rule for 40 years.

This created a strong stable government, a committed workforce (public and private) and political stability, which resulted in economic success that boosted their swift progress as a nation. But what happened in Singapore cannot be replicated in Papua New Guinea (PNG) because of our complex culture and a rapidly changing national, regional and global landscape.

PNG is a very culturally diverse nation and this diversity has created a lot of challenge for us because our Waigani-based central government cannot manage our 19 provinces effectively. To overcome this, PNG must find out how it can embrace its cultural diversity to succeed.

I believe that PNG’s success and swift progression could lie on giving autonomy to each of the 19 provinces to manage themselves.

Why autonomy? Autonomy will reduce the complexities associated with managing 19 provinces that are culturally diverse under one central government.

Autonomy will enable each of the 19 provinces to manage their own economic and political affairs locally so each is able to meet the obligations they have to their respective citizens.

Everyone on this forum who managed or study management will admit that group dynamics poses one of the biggest challenges in managing people. Managing PNG’s 800 different groups is one of our single biggest challenges since our independence in 1975.

If we want to change and see significant growth in our time let us give some constructive thought to and debate autonomy.

It is about time political scientists and public policy experts look at how our 19 provinces and 800 different cultural groups can embrace autonomy and grow as a nation.

 We must develop a system of governance based on our cultural identities and regions.

Spain is a good example of what I am talking about, having a central government with 17 autonomous communities. These regional governments are responsible for the administration of schools, universities, health, social services, culture, urban and rural development and, in some cases, policing.

 Let us look at autonomy objectively.

Every Sharpie should take time to view this video of the great Sir John Guise and his view of the type of government the nation of PNG should have when it became independent.

After 41 years, it is now proven the system of government that we have adopted is not the one for us. Sir John Guise was truly a visionary leader who 41 years ago envisioned bad governance. This is the reason why autonomy is now more relevant to PNG!


  • This commentary was originally posted on PNG's premier Facebook discussion group Sharp Talk.Tthistthis