January 10, 2018

A new world order?

BY BARNEY ORERE | Post Courier

If there is any one reason nations on earth compete, it is because of economy – the national life, or if you like, the system of survival. The importance of this is illustrated by economy being closely associated with security and defence. Nations boost their defense to boost their economy. That’s how they do it.

Imagine different economies setting up rules and standards and attempting to stick to one set of belief while juggling with their domestic pressures; the solutions for which may in some ways have global bearing, such as in trade.

Such scenarios can only complicate things and the bottom line is; how do we manage the world we’ve created? A very simple example of this is the story we ran a couple of weeks back – Prayer warrior seeks climate justice. The prayer warrior, Pamela Amini, argued that her people, the Motu Koitabu had not been good stewards of their land and as a result they started to lose territory. Mrs Amini offers a solution to fix the problem they created.

So when you look at climate change, it is going to force nations to relook at how they do things; for instance their energy systems and policies to make it more world- friendly. It is going to have a bearing on their economy which leads us to look at the big picture out there – the world we’ve created to defend our national life; our system of survival.

Climate change:

The bigger picture

For small economies, it is not a big deal but the recoiling of industrialised countries in terms of re examining the rules and standards that have been set for the global economy to work is going to have a profound effect on them. The question is how?

These are things we do not know yet but in PNG it is a good idea to start thinking the worst and brace for it in terms of policies. PNG has not met the Millenium Development Goals set by the United Nations but if the industrialised countries are going to have to make concessions, that downward thrust may affect the ability of third countries to keep up with their development goals. In other words, we’re going to go backward. That is the big picture of climate change that needs scrutiny and not just concerns about freak weather, rising temperatures, coastal inundation, food security and so on.

Should we become more self-sufficient? What we need to do to defend ourselves better in the overall picture of climate change is probably the way to go in fostering a safer world generally. One way in which we can defend ourselves better is to turn the situation around with market economy by going seriously into down-stream processing. We have a lot of things that we can supply the world so bring in investors and the technology. Building stronger collaboration may be one response to climate change, removing barriers and unfair practices.

A brief look at our picture in this so far is; we talked about ethanol fuel soon after independence which evaporated in thin air. What has happened to the Korean Kasava bio fuel project? Nearby Launakalana coastal lowlands was started as a fruit export farm but it was abandoned and cattle introduced instead. Some logging was done. Now it is a cashew farm. This same place was chosen as the site for sugar production but it was abandoned to go to the Markham Valley on the other side of the country.

When we decided to produce our own sugar, the idea was to bring down the cost of sugar. That vision is an utter failure; the price of sugar has been going up from day one. How do you explain that and where does it lead to when we want to go into downstream processing?

Look at the price of poultry and beef. We’ve succeeded in creating tight markets where production is severely restricted which is pushing up prices non stop. Maybe we need to re examine our own economy and change many of our rules. Let me give you an example. The cost of housing in Port Moresby is so high and despite years of calls for rentals to be regulated, this has not happened and is unlikely to happen. Why? For the answer, let’s ask another question. Why would politicians regulate rents if they owned properties? It is not in their best interest is it? So who are they really serving?

With climate change, time is not on our side!

Get the idea? We’ve got to really do something about the way we do things in PNG. Otherwise it is going to become harder and harder to run the country. The regional economy is important to us and with APEC coming, this is a wakeup call to make a clean slate and set the pace for the future in the face of climate change. We should increase trade with our immediate neigbours, especially the small Pacific island States. The government has seen this and it is moving in that direction so everyone has to wake up.

Aid is a frontier for politics, is it not? More trade may mean removing superficial barriers and for weather mitigation to improve. Then aid will be what it is, a public relation exercise in maintaing friendly diplomatic relations. This is how we will show a bit more seriousness in our people.

In PNG the way we look at aid is that aid attends to the real task of nation-building while we misdirect our responsibility. This has to go.

We have to have continuity instead of only trying to stay in power. To build a bigger picture, ministers must continue what was left behind by an outgoing minister instead of introducing a totally different idea. This experimenting of ideas has gone long enough and is leading us nowhere.

Just imagine the diverse culture PNG is. We have potentially more than 800 different mindsets. You cannot hope to develop a country and move forward fast enough like that. There must be basic standards to follow instead of pursuing ideas that don’t really work.

In these critical times, we really need performers. And do something about ministerial staff appointments. Get people who are qualified to advise ministers at State level. Voters have to change their mindset about electing wantoks.

What do you make of the world in turmoil? This is a world we’ve created. How’s that for the point here? How do we fix it? There is no one clear answer although fighting the terrorist to eliminate them seems to be one way. This cannot be sustained. The more the world turns upside down, the more upheaval there will be. We should therefore use climate change as the opportunity to re-examine how we view the world and save ourselves.

If we do not change our rule books while trying to address climate change, we will be like duck in the water; looking calm but the unseen feet below the water is paddling furiously.

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