Prime Minister, James Marape in his Christmas message to the nation said in this festive period, let us come together and gratefully give to those in need, especially to our people in the rural communities to commemorate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
“Giving is a choice, one may choose to give while others may not. It is a choice where we also make sacrifices for the betterment of another person.
“As we reflect back on this year, we’ve seen many who have given their time, advice and support during our country’s trying times, which we are grateful for. Knowing that Jesus Christ is a gift to all mankind, we should lead by his example to give in order to sustain each other’s lives,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Marape says this year, my Government has gone to the breadth and length of our country by trying to identify and connect dots to fit the missing links.
He said these missing links are those that cause hindrance to the development and prosperity of this nation.
He said in his tenure as Prime Minister, he have been working closely with Ministries and core Government agencies in ensuring that these missing links are finally connected so basic services are delivered right to the doorsteps of our people.
“This to me is truly giving back to our people, and I want to see that they are getting what they rightfully deserve despite the challenges this Government is faced with.
“The challenges this year have been unprecedented for families, communities, countries and the global community.
“One of these challenges is COVID-19, a global pandemic which has caused deaths of our loved ones in PNG, and globally as well.”
However, the he said the Government is not alone in the fight to protect the people from this deadly virus. PNG had support from the PNG business houses, donor partners, bilateral and multilateral partners, United Nation, etc. who provided advice, medical and financial assistance and we are humbled by this gesture.
The Prime Minister has thanked everyone who gave assistance during this crucial time. He want to reassure Papua New Guineans that the Government will ensure all line agencies are fully functional by 2022 and are able to continue providing basic services to people.
“This assurance is confirmed through the recent passing of the 2022 National Budget during the November Parliament Session. This Budget captures the Capital Investment Budget, which is a critical component of next year’s budget - Theme ‘Lightening the people’s burden and unlocking our rural economy’.
“Let me inform this nation that the investment budget is focused on investments and interventions that will unlock the great economic potential of our country, especially the rural areas, which allows our people to have access to basic services that they can afford and participate in their fair share of nation building.
“My Government is now giving back to our people through funding allocations parked under the investment budget. Our efforts as a Government to grow the economy and be economically independent remain high on the agenda.
Therefore, he said the Government envisages that by 2022 and onwards, it will truly give back to the people by ensuring that all missing road links are connected and sealed.
Construction and completion of bridges, wharves, jetties, ports, improved internet connectivity, improved power and water supplies, equal participation of resource owners in the extractive industry, improved law-and-order and justice system, better education service and improved healthcare system, etc.
“Our healthcare system is at the brink of collapsing and for many years, it has been overlooked by previous regimes. Therefore, my Government, in the 2022 Budget has allocated K876, 290 million to the Department of Health and of that total, K518,900 million is for the investment budget.”
This makes up 11 per cent of next year’s budget, which is the biggest allocation since independence.
“Health is our people’s right and that is why we give you a greater increase to improve the total deficiency and inherent weaknesses that we inherited in our healthcare system. A country of only 200 ICU beds prior to COVID-19 coming in is totally shocking for us. A nation of eight-million plus and having 200 ICU beds right across PNG is not something we can be proud of.
“I made a commitment that COVID-19, which exposed the weakness of our health system, be used as an example, so we can improve our healthcare system and facilities for our citizens.
“My Government, through the 2022 Budget appropriation, has allocated funds for the construction of modern general hospitals for the 21 provinces and the special region of Bougainville.
“With that, let me reiterate that by truly giving back to our people, it must be shown through an improved healthcare system and facilities right across the country.
“By giving back to our people, in terms of supporting our children in their education, is something the Government is focused on.”
In 2022, the National Government through the Department of Education will take the yoke off parents by providing free education to students from elementary to high school level.
The Prime Minister added that free education is one of the Government’s focuses for next year, which aims at ensuring all school-aged children attend classes and are able to complete elementary level to Grade 12.
The Government will continue its focus on improving access, quality and affordability of education at all levels from primary and secondary education to TVET institutions, colleges, universities and other higher education institutions.
“Although my Government will be providing free education next year, this does not warrant you, parents, to become complacent. I challenge all parents to ensure your child attends classes throughout the academic year and be responsible in shaping your child’s future,” The Prime Minister urged parents.
He said shaping a child’s future is an action that is relevant for all parents, teachers and governments to implement, which will result in ‘Leaving No Child Behind’ in the education space.
“Again, 2021 is a challenging year for all of us but let’s not be bogged down with these challenges, rather, look forward to achieving our individual, group or political goals we have set.
“Let us give thanks to the Almighty God for bringing us safely to the end of 2021 and as we gradually enter the year 2022.”
Prime Minister Marape said Christmas is a time of giving and a time to forgive those who have failed to serve our people in the last 46 years of independence.
“Let us all put our differences aside and work together in harmony to ‘Take Back PNG’. With that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2022.”
Thank you and God bless Papua New Guinea.