Autonomous regions: a better way forward?

PAPUA New Guinea’s opposition leader Don Polye suggested that autonomous regional governments could better develop local PNG economies, and says there should be a national debate on whether this is a viable option for the country.

The call came after a number provinces argued for a greater say in running their own affairs, according to Radio New Zealand.

Polye said giving more autonomy to PNG's four regions could better manage their resources, wealth, and service delivery.

Such a move would allow local economies to achieve greater economic and social results, according to the opposition leader. He said that as provincial economies and populations were too small for any meaningful outcomes, broader integration into the national economy under a common regional framework would benefit communities.

West New Britain province governor Sansindran Muthuvel said while he supported the idea of a national debate, he would prefer greater financial autonomy for the provinces over more political autonomy.

"Right now we contribute so much to the national government, [but] we still have no power when it comes to the national budget," he said.

"If the concept is given to us fully explained, then I don't mind looking at it and I still feel it's an ongoing discussion.

"We'll be seeking more financial autonomy to the provinces before we can talk about setting up regional governments."

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