Huli Wigman from the Southern Highlands of Pap...
Dual salary still exists in Papua New Guinea. Image via Wikipedia

Believe it or not, the dual salary system still exists in Papua New Guinea! This system pays expatriates three times or more compared to a national on the same salary level. It is a legacy of our colonial masters, inherited from Australia at independence.

The rationale then was that the country lacked highly qualified professionals and specialists and thus expatriates filled in this gap and thus were paid based on this scale. It was also an incentive to bring in skilled workers. However, we now have highly qualified and skilled national professionals, some even held in high esteem in international circles. So why do we still have this bullshit? I can’t give a definite answer but I think it’s time this colonial policy is done away with.

This colonial policy has been slowly suffocating the life out of this blessed country. How many highly qualified nationals have moved overseas or to the private sector because they weren’t paid the salary they deserved? In their place comes the same number of expatriates to fill in. However, the expats remit all their money back to the families and countries. So in the end, PNG is poorer monetary wise and also intellectually.

A couple of my former lecturers gave up teaching because they did not agree with this system employed in the college I attended. In the end, the students suffered because two highly qualified (one has a Masters in Psychology and the other a Bachelor in IT from Canberra University) nationals gave up the noble professional of fostering developing mind because they were not on par with the expatriates.

Of course some unscrupulous national are taking advantage of the situation and applying for dual citizenship especially in Australia. Once they become citizens of Australia, they come back and work in the country but now they are entitled to be paid an expat’s salary (with all its perks and privileges). Shame!

It’s high time this policy is reviewed and to ensure everyone is on a level playing field. The Department of Personnel Management (DPM) and the Salaries and Conditions Monitoring Committee (SCM) have failed miserably to deal with this. Either they have not taken this seriously or it simply slips their mind it is a cause of concern.

The policy is no longer appropriate in the country and nationals deserve better from the government. Continuous strikes reflect the people’s need to be recognised and fairly rewarded for their achievements. How long will the government machinery continue to ignore such a crucial matter? Not long, I hope –  its time to do away with dual salary system!