New Treasurer a Plague on Development and Democracy Top Civil Servant Claims

One thing can be said about PNG politics, failure, even on a monumental scale, is no barrier to high office.

Further evidence for this now walks among us in the form of PM Marape’s new pick for Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey,  at least if we are to believe former Justice Secretary Dr Lawrence Kalinoe (Kalinoe sadly passed away in March this year).

In a detailed report produced by Kalinoe in 2009 for the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission, he provides an utterly damning inditement of Ling-Stuckey and the practices he employed when Governor of New Ireland in 2002-2007.

Commenting on the financial mismanagement during Ling-Stuckey’s tenure, Kalinoe observes:

The NIPG [New Ireland Provincial Government] budgets for all the years five years of his tenure, were not even drawn up in the province but were drawn outside the NIPGA [New Ireland Provincial Government Administration] system through the former Governor’s own contacts and business associates and were then taken straight to the JPPBPC [Joint Provincial Planning and Budget Priorities Committee ] which he himself chaired and then onto the Provincial Assembly for endorsement.

According to Kalinoe, Ling-Stuckey pushed through these allegedly illegal arrangement using anti-democratic means. Those who spoke out against the Governor’s questionable practices were punished. Kalinoe writes:

At the Provincial Assembly meetings, the former Governor [Ling Stuckey] did not allow any dissenting views or debate. Any member of the Provincial Assembly who spoke against him was punished by the Governor withholding any funding or other support for his constituent area.

Despite New Ireland being at the time one of the richest provinces, a former provincial administrator claims the money was squandered during Ling Stuckey’s tenure as Governor:

We have nothing to show for now as to how we used that money in the province. We did not build any sustainable capital investment item like roads and bridges or such other public facilities like buildings etc. The former Governor [Ling-Stuckey] through his ‘Limus Structure’ spent the money on short term consumable items just simply to maintain his popularity and political support base by using public money.

What is the Limus structure you ask? Kalinoe can explain.

The Limus Structure

‘The name Limus’, Kalinoe reports, ‘is the name of the island that the former Governor, Ian Ling-Stuckey comes from and the so called “structure” comprise the campaign co-ordinators which the former Governor used to run his campaign in the 2002 National Elections’.

Kalinoe continues:

Out of his 2002 election campaign committees through out the province, the former Governor appointed persons as “Area Co-ordinators”, “Ward Coordinators” and “Foot Soldiers” and they comprised the “Limus Structure” and were deployed by the Governor, mainly in those areas where he received political support, to deliver goods and service funded out of the NIPG [New Ireland Provincial Government] budget, particularly to those people who supported him and the “Limus Structure”

Kalinoe reports an informal system of patronage was created, where villages could obtain access to immediate consumer goods, in return for their loyalty:

… [N]one of the NIPGA [New Ireland Provincial Government Administration]  officers were involved either in the project planning and design or implementation. In fact there were hardly any documentation of projects in the “Limus Structure” style of service delivery in the province. This style operated in a rather casual and informal way in the sense that if a village or individuals in the village needed assistance, mainly of consumable items, they would approach any member of the “structure” in the village and the “structure” members will then obtain the support of the “area coordinator” and then approach the Governor’s office for funding.

Kalinoe warns: ‘there was no accountability at all in the use of public money. There were hardly any acquittals also by those who received the payments for accounting and audit purposes’.

The goods purchase were reportedly often  personal items, with no clear developmental rationale:

The so called goods and services which the former Governor funded under the NIPG budget were clearly unsustainable and some were even inappropriate items. Most of them were simply consumable items. The purchase of kerosene stoves and primus for use in the villages is clearly inappropriate and a waste of public funds. Likewise, the purchase of guitars for personal use was an inappropriate use of public monies.

Derisory Development Outcomes

According to Kalinoe, Ling-Stuckey’s patronage structure paid few dividends to the people of New Ireland province:

Obviously, the delivery and maintenance of basic government services such as health, education, transportation infrastructure, fisheries, agriculture, as opposed to consumable items, suffered, in this period under review. The negative effects were felt, not only by the greater majority of the people in the NIP [New Ireland Province] but also by the public servants in the NIPGA [New Ireland Province Government Administration] who were totally demoralized.

According to a New Ireland province education adviser:

Due to serious neglect in budgetary support under the former Governor’s administration, all services in education came to a halt. I had practically nothing to work with in maintaining school inspection programs etc. All the vehicles which were previously allocated to the education division were taken off from us and given to the members of the “Limus Structure”.

Kalinoe also argues public health took a hit from the Limus Structure, ’20 aid posts through out the province were closed down in this period under consideration’.

Democratic Deficit

Kalinoe reports that the Limus Structure was maintained by Ling-Stuckey through an authoritarian leadership style, which stifled democracy in New Ireland:

In this regard, the acting director for LLGs and also the acting Provincial Legal Officer observed that Provincial Assembly Meetings for the PEC [Provincial Executive Council] were usually scheduled four times a year or every quarter. Special Assembly Meetings were also held as and when required. Nearly all of these meetings were chaired by the former Governor and he usually conducted these meetings without any dissention. If any PEC member disagreed with his views, those dissenting views were not entertained at the PEC Meetings. It appears that he usually planted questions and then called upon the member concerned to raise the issues and questions as planned and he would then entertain them. Any speech at the PEC Assembly meeting that opposed or criticized his government or style of administration were simply not allowed despite the fact that most of these leaders were mandated leaders as elected LLG Council Members elected by their people in their respective wards and LLGs. Simply put, the former Governor did not allow dissent in his PEC Assembly meetings.

If Kalinoe’s assessment is accurate, its bumpy economic times ahead!

Will PM Marape come to regret his captain’s pick?