QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER PNG AID "BOOMERANG"

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 11) – Transparency International representative Richard Kassman said he was stunned when Foreign Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu could not give the actual breakdown of the aid figures that remain in PNG and which "boomerang" back to Australia. 

Mr Kassman made these comments during question time after Sir Rabbie's address at the Crowne Plaza Hotel yesterday. 

National Planning Secretary Valentine Kambori said that specific figures were available but could not be disclosed unless both Australia and PNG agreed to release them. 

Sir Rabbie said in his speech that of the K700 million aid to PNG, he wasn't sure how much was actually spent in Australia on management, contractors, suppliers and so on.

"I do not know that figure but we are working on establishing it," he said. "But we do know, as Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer himself conceded, that around 80 percent of aid program benefits Australian contractors and suppliers." 

He said the figure might seem high but would not have been a problem if a substantial portion of that 80 per cent were actually spent in PNG. 

"What we do not really know is exactly how much of the K700 million ever reaches Papua New Guinea, but goes directly on goods and services in Australia.

"I am sure the Australian people would be as interested in knowing that figure as we are. The Australian people believe that that their aid money is actually being used in PNG to enhance living standards, ensure economic stability and to broadly strengthen the bilateral relationship," Sir Rabbie said.

September 11, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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