Covid-19 Exposes Gross Failures
By PHILIP FITZPATRICK
“The K70 million the World Bank gave PNG months ago to prepare for the pandemic has mysteriously disappeared”
Covid-19 is having a remarkable impact all over the world as it exposes the ideological and structural shortcomings of government and corporate entities.
In the USA and Britain, the bumbling incompetence of their leaders is shown in the disastrous statistics related to rates of infection and deaths from the virus.
In Australia the virus has exposed the government’s neo-liberal policies as unfit for purpose and has prompted a remarkable left turn in its ideology. Whether this will be sustained in future is yet to be seen.
In Papua New Guinea the virus is just starting to bite but it has already starkly exposed the failings of every government since independence to manage the economy and the nations’ social structures.
Throughout the world, all these shortcomings and their perpetrators are being exposed for their cold-blooded and callous attitudes to ordinary citizens.
Papua New Guinea is a country rich in natural resources with a significant pool of intelligent and progressive people.
Forty five years after independence it should be a rich and vibrant society with exemplary and efficiently run health and educational services.
It should have a first class infrastructure of roads, bridges, sea ports and airfields. It should have a well-managed and sustainable forest industry and a burgeoning agricultural sector exporting to the world.
It should be a tourist mecca, with high class facilities catering to thousands of international tourists who want to visit its remarkable geography and vibrant cultures.
It should have an intelligentsia of academics and writers leading the Pacific ever forwards into a brighter future.
PNG should be a nation that demonstrates by its actions and successes the unique Melanesian way of life with its emphasis on community and equity.
Alas, none of these things has been achieved.
Instead PNG is an economic and social basket case. It is a violent and lawless nation that has been led by a succession of cruel and corrupt leaders who built incredible personal riches at the expense of their own citizens.
It is a nation that has allowed its abundant natural resources to be pillaged and raped and carted overseas leaving behind one environmental disaster after another.
It is a nation that litigates and stalls and spends taxpayers’ money on inquiries and reports that it simple ignores in its rush to exploit the next dodgy scam.
While all of this has been well-known for many years, it is only now that Covid-19 has begun to lift the blanket so the world can see what’s underneath.
Faced with the prospect of the deadly impact of Covid-19 the government is doing what it has always done in times of crisis. It is screaming “poor me” and running to the rest of the world with its hands out.
It wants the world to send money, equipment and expertise to fix the mess it has made worse by its own stupidity.
The government knows that it is in deep shit and it is floundering around in its usual fashion. The colourful rhetoric is coming thick and fast but positive action is nowhere to be seen.
The US$20m (K70m) that the World Bank loaned it in April to prepare for the pandemic has mysteriously disappeared with no sign of what it was used for.
This time, apparently, a large chunk of it wasn’t wasted on Maseratis but on vehicle hire ostensibly to run a public education campaign that very few people saw or knew about.
Where the rest of it has gone is anyone’s guess but a quick check of politicians and senior public servants’ bank accounts might be enlightening.
No doubt the world will respond to the pathetic bleating of the government and send assistance.
It always does, and that’s what the politicians contemplating adding new wings to their mansions in Australia using their Covid-19 windfall, are counting on.
And when the pandemic is over and the bodies have been buried, a bemused world will look at the same old mess that is Papua New Guinea and wonder why it bothered.
Until the next disaster.
(Picture from Political Insights PNG )