Below is an extract from the writings of the late Bernard Narokobi in his seminal work ‘The Melanesian Way’.
“We are often preached at by missionaries to be charitable and to give and not to count the cost. We are often urged by service organisations to engage in community work as if we have never known community service in our villages. In saying this I do not deny that the village ‘closeness’ is no longer true for towns and cities. Wantoks don’t live close to each other any more or have the time and resources to help each other. There is definitely a need for organisations like St. Vincent de Paul, Red Cross, the Port Moresby Development Group and Apex. I cast no aspersions on the sincerity of their members and am a member myself of some of these. I often wonder, however, whether some of these organisations exist as elite clubs to propagate themselves and to justify many smart business deals and activities that cannot measure up to either Christian or Melanesian standards of care and concern for one’s fellow.
“We must be careful not to destroy the Melanesian values of self sacrifice for the benefit or others, or make beggars and dependents out of our people by good works and deeds. Let me emphasis this point. I am not against charity organisations. There is certainly a place for charity organisations like St. Vincent de Paul in Port Moresby where for whatever reasons tribal and “wantok” links have broken down, and a need for government or publicly financed institutions for the aged, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the lame and the disabled throughout Melanesia. Relatives and “wantoks” can no longer look after their physically handicapped without help, and need the support of all of us.
“Too often we join charity organisations for wrong reasons. Our foreign brothers and sisters seem to undertake charity or welfare work to justify their financially advantageous positions. Papua New Guineans are often made to feel that volunteer service is something imported to our shore sand planted in our hearts. How wrong this attitude is. It is nothing more than “Euroegocentricity”. Many Papua New Guineans support their aged parents, infant school relatives, widowed parents, and divorced sisters without ever asking for financial support from the Government, the Church, private enterprises or charity organisations. They do this because tradition dictates it.”
In a collectivist society such as ours, PNGn workers are ‘Kings And Queens’ of ‘Charity’. Even the pay we get does not stay only with us but is spread thin across our extended families and relatives. These people, our extended families and relatives, happen to be the very people our government is set up and we pay taxes to so they can be served.
But our GoPNG policy has not been kind and very disheartening to our PNGn workers. It was even heartless as it dip its fingers into the PNGn workers retirement savings.
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There were many instances where it even refuses to pay the PNGn workers their rightful dues and here is such an example.
But the PNGn workers are steadfast in our duty to our fellow citizens and still hold out hope that our GoPNG will be proactive in encouraging our charitable hearts. These are the four actions that I think will encourage the heart of our ‘Kings And Queens’ of ‘Charity’:
1. Allow personal income tax payers a discretionary component of our taxes.
2. The other three are: reduce PIT if a discretionary component of tax is too difficult; remove dual pay salary so there is more money staying in the country and flowing within the circular flow of cash; and regulate the real estate industry so PNGn workers can have large disposable income to spend into the economy in other sectors and not just the real estate sector.
These above four actions I think will result in a win-win situation that will empower, enable and encourage the ‘Kings And Queens’ of ‘Charity’ which are the PNGn workers.