Happy Christmas Teachers | Have You Got Your 10% Increment Government Promised You in 2013?

Many Papua New Guineans are looking forward to a good holiday. Some will travel home from towns and cities. Others will travel to see the bright lights of Lae and Port Moresby. Many will have stayed where they are. 

Cost of transportation and accommodation are very high. They may not be able to get through the holiday if they had not stayed back. One group of public servants are finding it really tough – the teachers. Their sentiments are shared on PNG Teachers on Facebook, a group of over 2500 teachers in the country. 

Unlike other public servants; teachers are poorly paid, overworked and often neglected at this time of the year. One of the main concerns they raised online was delay in Leave Fares. Though it is mandatory that eligible teachers are given their leave fares, the delay has been chronic and remains a yearly occurrence. 

Another yearly problem that affects our teachers is timely release of Boarding and Duty Allowances. Any teacher who does boarding duties throughout the year is entitled to this allowance. Why have many cry foul over non-payment? 

When Dr Puka Temu announced a Christmas Gift for the hard working members of parliament in November 2013, he also declared 7.5% increase for general public servants pay with a 2.5% concurrent increase to 2016. The MPs got their 7 % increase backdated to January 1st of 2013 are enjoying the other increases this year, too . But, the question of whether other public servants got their promised increment remains to be answered.

Teachers are not able to determine their pay grade. This is simply because many of them, especially the new graduates and teachers in remote locations, have not got their pay slips. Some may not even know what a pay slip looks like as they have never got one. 

So, how much are the teachers paid? The salaries are calculated by adjusting to a midpoint salary. In other words, an average is calculated from Pay Grades 1 to 12. The averages for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are K21 000, K23 100 and K25 410 respectively. This gives an impression of a total increase of 30% (7.5% x 3 yrs + 2.5% x 3 yrs) That means that the government would have been paying the teachers a 10% compounded increment between 2014 and 2016. That is a good news for teachers. 

Click here for teachers' pay structure. The challenge now is to ensure the government remains true to its promise to underpaid teachers. Teachers’ representatives from PNG Teachers Association have to highlight problem areas. There is never a better time to do it, than now. 

Put a stop to delays teachers face with getting their leave fares, ensure they get their boarding and duty allowances on time and get their pay slips to them where ever they are. Above all, the pay increments have to be evident in teachers’ pay. Have they got the increases for 2013 and 2014?

Beautiful POM, Why Are You Classified As The Most Dangerous One - You Still The Best

Pic: www.tripadvisor.ca
Port Moresby (POM) is a tough place to live and work, tougher for those with families. Every capital city has it problem, but POM's not controlled and contained. Crime and petty theft is often left unattended by law enforcement bodies, including civilians.

If one thing needs to change it must be the attitude of every person living in POM. Agree with Guise Kola, a commentator on Paitim Garamut, a Facebook discussion group. He said 

"Lets not talk about tourism and try our efforts in vain in a City and country so infested with petty crimes. How many times have we read (and) seen news about tourists being attacked and their personal artifacts stolen! Mobile phones, digital cameras, travel bags, money etc being stolen. Even there were accassions where tourists were being held up (and) raped and killed! 

Lets get our house in order (and) functional first. We have a very long to go with our petty insidious attitude. We need to develop our mind and fully understand how things are done in the first world and learn to emulate them before we start talking about tourism.

No tourist in his or her right mind wish to come to PNG knowing that s/he will be held up, raped or killed! Who in his or her right mind would do that?

Lets forget the talk on tourism and start developing our human capital and command basic law n order issues before other things!"

I completely agree with his point on developing our human capital and law and order.The basic command of order has to prevail, every civil individual has to uphold common sense. Respect one another, respect the law, respect for self. All those good virtues are absent in everyday life and the result is a disorganised society with high crime rate.

POM classified as one of the most dangerous cities in the World was the subject of discussion. Most of these classifications are based on petty criminal offenses like holdup, pickpocket, knife and gun crime, including serious ones like rape and murder. 

These are opportunistic crimes and controllable. They come under duties of law enforcers, the police and courts. Port Moresby policewo/men have to start protecting citizens instead of protecting the white collar criminals and fraudsters. 

POM has the potential to be the best city, but it has left itself down for far too long. The others in 8th and 9th places are ravaged by civil wars and sectarian violence never have a chance to rebuild themselves in the near future. 

There needs to be political will and civil obedience. Only then we'll see a change for the better.

2014 MPs 10% Pay Rise | Prime Minister, the Highest Earner at K306, 000 - Ho! Ho!! Ho!!!

An increase in lower level public servants pay would be welcome. Many reforms are taking place in health, education and other departments. These reforms placed a huge burden on the implementers. The education reform, for instance, puts a lot of pressure on limited resources, including teachers. Any increase in their pay would compliment their work load.

In an earlier post, I commended the pay increase for teachers from 2014 to 2016 announced by Dr Puka Temu in November of 2013. But, why do the MPs get an increase almost every year? Do they deserve it? Haven’t they received enough? There is no point in awarding parliamentarians massive increases year on year to sustain their lavish lifestyles. No point at all.

Take a look at this. Sir Michael Somare’s government unanimously approved a 52% pay rise in November 2010. A massive increase just before Christmas. Ho! Ho!! Ho!!!

Puka Temu, the then Public Service Minister in Peter O’Neill's government, announced another increase of 7% in November 2013. Actually, that was backdated to 1st January 2013 and paid to each Member of Parliament before they for their Christmas holiday. Ho! Ho!! Ho!!! again.

During that announcement, the minister also declared a separate increase of 7.5% and 2.5% thereafter to 2016 for every public sector worker, including the MPs. What is unclear is whether this increase is evident from the MPs to community school teachers and community health workers.

For clarification, the 2013 increases were in three parts: a 7% one-off payment and a 3 year increase of 7.5% of the actual gross salary plus 2.5% of average salary. The average salary is all salary combined divide by number of earners.

Take a look at the calculation:

Every servant of the public will earn a 7.5%/2,5% increase, in installments, over a course 3 year period, 2014 - 2016. By 2016, the public servants will have realised a 30% spike in their annual pay if the government remains true to its promise. That is 10% increment every year. 

So, here is what our hard working servants of the public would have seen on their pay slips this year, 2014 with the first increase of 10%.

  • Prime Minister earns over K300,000
  • Speaker of Parliament earns over K250,000
  • DPM at the most earns K235,000
  • Opposition Leader earns over K235,000 (same as DPM)
  • Goverment Ministers earn over K183,000
  • Other MPs earn over K91,000
  • Provincial Governors earn over K64,000

And a Papua New Guinea classroom teacher will have received a compounded average of K21,525 for the year 2014

Happy Christmas and God Bless

Fighting The White Collar Criminals and Fraudsters in Papua New Guinea, No Room For Complacency

Transparency International’s most recent survey of global corruption (2014) revealed that PNG was 145th of 175 nations in the World, with the 175th being the most corrupt. In the Asia Pacific region, PNG was placed 21st with North Korea ranked 25th - placing PNG just 4 places away from a nation described as most authoritarian (dictatorial) regime in the 21st century.

This number captured informed views of analysts, business people and experts who have worked and lived in PNG. No one can dispute intelligence and experience of these experts unless significant improvements are evident within public service and law and justice sector.

What is important here is the reality that decision makers (politicians) and public service machinery (public servants) are putting PNG amongst the worst of corrupt nations on Earth. 

In order to improve the country’s ranking, first political leaders have to take the lead. That means that the Cabinet has to either set up anticorruption bodies, empower existing fraud investigation squad or both. Task Force Sweep – the anticorruption body set up by Peter O’Neill in August 2011 - was established in good faith. 

Any political initiatives for fighting corruption have to be formally sanctioned through the Constitution and given legal powers to both investigate and prosecute alleged white collar criminals. It must not be subjective to Cabinet ministers who are likely to withdraw support when they are investigated.

Independence of such graft fighting body is important. This will stop what happened to Task Force Sweep where the prime minister disbanded it when he was the subject of their investigation. Recent report revealed that this anticorruption body is stuffed off funds and on the verge of closing all its investigations. This is a direct blow as far as fighting corruption is concerned. 

The government has to remain true to the effort to reduce white collar crimes and fraudulent activities in the public sector by releasing K7 million funding for this year (2014). On the same token, the government of Peter O'Neill has to increase the funding for this effective but underfunded anticorruption watchdog. 

Second, public service departmental heads and secretaries will have to be appointed on merit instead of appointed by political affiliation. Questions have to be asked now to ascertain appointees to every government ministerial position. Wantoks and political allies must not sit at those positions if they do not have the experiences and credentials.

This is where corruption takes hold of government systems . To reduce fraudulent activities in public sector offices, a recruitment system has to be set up in future to recruit eligible candidates from within and overseas who can deliver on policy provisions and delivery of goods and services to cities, towns and villages in the country.

Meanwhile, a proper review of ‘who’ is doing ‘what’ is long overdue, starting with the prime minister’s office including every position within the 32 ministries in the government.

So has PNG seen an improvement in the fight against corruption? Regardless of public and international perception on corruption, there is some signs of improvement. Task Force Sweep had arrested over 50 people and recouped K60 million15 MPs are currently under investigation for white collar crimes and corruption: 3 are found guilty;

- PM for Pomio Paul Tiensten is convicted of ‘making a footnote on a project proposal that compelled the officers of National Planning to bypass the lawful processes and procedures in making payment’ of K10 million to Travel Air  and is serving 9 years in Bomana Prison

- Gulf Governor Havila Kavo is given 3 years prison sentence for has been found guilty of misusing K130 000 from a trust account belonging to the people of Kikori district for infrastructure.

- MP for Komo-Magarima Francis Potape found guilty by the National Court of misusing K330,000 of public funds.

Many Papua New Guineans thought maximum sentence of 10 years for misappropriation of public funds did not match the amount of money these white collar criminals and fraudsters siphoned. But the fact is that justice was served. That is what matters the most.

Task Force Sweep has to keep the momentum. The government has to release funds for it to operate. Not doing so means that Peter O'Neill and Leo Dion's government are starving a vital investigative body to death, thus nursing corruption. 

Blast from the recent past | Goroka Coffee Ranked Third in World Competition

Quality coffee produced by a local coffee producer was ranked third in an international coffee cupping competition in the United States of America recently.

The Sihereni coffee estate, owned and operated by David Orimarie in the Kwonghi area of Upper Asaro Local Level Government in Daulo District of Eastern Highlands Province won the 3rd placing among a total of 30 coffee samples of different coffee producing countries collected by Ecom Trading around the world.

The coffee was tasted and certified by the Rainforest Alliance under “The Best of Ecom Coffee” competition using cupping standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

During a recent announcement of the award at the Heaven Resort in Goroka, managing director of Monpi Coffee Exports,Chris Anders expressed great satisfaction on the achievement. Monpi Coffee Exports is a subsidiary of Ecom Trading, an international commodity trading company. Anders said, the result reflects the commitment and persistency of Orimarie to achieve top quality coffee.

“Sihereni’s achievement is an achievement of the PNG coffee industry,” said Anders.
Orimarie acquired the 22 hectares estate planted with a mixture of Arusha and Blue Mountain, in 2002 and has been in partnership with the Monpi Coffee Exports to improve his wet mill and acquire advice on agronomy, better business practice and seek niche markets. He expressesed great satisfaction on the achievement and attributed the achievement to Monpi Coffee Exports for the much needed advice and guidance.

“Quality control is the basis of our operation. Quality control standards have been established and are made sure they are maintained at all times,” said Orimarie in a previous media report written by reporter James Kila.

The report states that Sihereni has developed quickly to gain more reputation in the international and local coffee and finance community through its initiatives to produce quality coffee and practice good financial management.

The coffee samples from Sihereni scored 85 points and was described as having the taste of; melon, black tea, grapefruit, intense fruit, herby, tomato soup, sweet, bright acidity, medium body, adds grapefruit and floras in finish as cools.

Manager for Industry Regulation and Compliance at the Coffee Industry Corporation,Sam Menanga, shared similar sentiments and urged other coffee companies to follow suit in producing quality coffee to attract niche markets.


Fri 25 Oct 2013