ABOUT THE ISSUES PAPER

This issues paper is critical of a number of important premises that lie behind the draft integrated rural development policy for Papua New Guinea. Specifically, we: view the policy as laying the grounds for perpetuating living-on-government-hand-out programs; believe there is really no justification for providing housing and consumption subsidies for rural dwellers; doubt the sustainability of duplicate public services to support entrepreneurship in rural communities; question the claim that government commitment to rural sector development is lacking; view the policy as failing to link rural development to the progress in land reform, which should be the country’s most strategic policy priority; argue that intervening through guarantee schemes in rural enterprise financing is unlikely to achieve its intended objectives; see no reason for emphasising the absence of basic government services in defining rural places and non-durable household assets to inform the required intervention in each rural place; and decry the little or no emphasis placed on development indicators and information technology needed to prepare better rural development plans. We conclude that the suggested rural development strategies and policy measures are a recipe for failure: they overestimate the expected impact of government actions; and undermine the problem-solving capacity of the country’s rural communities.

Francis Odhuno