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Saonu: Morobe Financial autonomy discussions to resume

Financial autonomy, a City Commission and the appointment of a permanent administrator are high on a list of priorities for the new Members of Parliament from Morobe.

The idea of financial autonomy for Morobe Province has been discussed over 15 years. There are strong sentiments within political and social circles that Morobe Province should have more control over its financial affairs.

“I would like to see Morobe having more control,” Saonu said. “The National Government needs to realize that without Morobe province, Papua New Guinea cannot function as well as it does.”

It is estimated Morobe generates up to K500 million every year in goods and services tax. About K30 million is returned to the province.

The rest is paid to the national purse. This was one of the reasons why former governor Luther Wenge, took the National Government to court during his term.

Financial autonomy means greater spending powers, and the ability to generate and keep internal revenue. For the provincial government, this could help boost their ability to build and maintain transport infrastructure in this disaster prone province.

The talk of autonomy comes against the backdrop of a strong Pangu presence in the Tutumang.

Governor, Ginson Saonu, says with a strong united front in the Tutumang he will be facilitating discussions for a move towards financial autonomy. But he has issued a veiled word of caution against party politics.

“Whether we are in the government or in the opposition, our priority is the people of Morobe.”

Ginson Saonu has made it clear, he supports the idea of a Lae City Commission. While he did not go into the details, the governor wants to see more participation by Morobe’s nine districts if there is to be a City Commission. It is a very different position from former Governor, Kelly Naru, who resisted the idea of a Commission after a legislation was passed.

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