$50,000 JUNKET RAISES QUESTIONS IN PNG PROVINCE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 8) – More than K158,000 (US$50,700) budgeted for a micro banking scheme for the people of West New Britain in Papua New Guinea was diverted to pay for a trip to China for four government officers.

They included the deputy governor.

The trip was to China without the approval of the Provincial Executive Council.

The trip was never a project of the Government and was not budgeted for, yet funds were diverted and officers sent on the trip without any written approvals from either the acting provincial administrator William Edo or the Governor Clement Nakmai.

More than K62,000 (US$19,900) of that total was spent on allowances while transiting through Port Moresby and while on the 10-day trip to China.

The four officers — deputy governor Filbert Kadiko, deputy administrator for monitoring and implementation Paul Rame, advisor division of agriculture and livestock Williamson Hoseah and advisor for fisheries Mesulam Mave — were in China for what the Provincial Government termed "an investment promotion opportunity’’.

From vouchers and cheques raised to meet their expenses, K52,000 was reimbursed to Vini Finance Limited, a borrowing institution based in Port Moresby which has branches in Lae and Madang.

It is understood the owner, a Singaporean who is also the trade representative from PNG to China, paid for the return tickets and was later reimbursed by the WNB Provincial Government.

The four officers travelled with a so-called consultant from one BACO Funds and Consultant. This person’s airfares and other expenses are understood to have been paid for by the Provincial Government.

Mr Nakmai said the PEC approved K50,000 for the trip but he was not aware of the rest of the expenses incurred.

But he said the matter was a non-issue as the PEC has approved the trip. Post-Courier understands the PEC endorsed plans for the trip last Thursday, a week after the four returned from the trip and were paid about K21,000 for what they claimed was underpayment of overseas travel allowances.

The deputy governor’s claims were for close to K11,000 while the three other officers got over K6000 each.

Records showed that a cheque of K21,000 raised to refund an outstanding amount from the New Britain Palm Oil Limited (BPOL) trust account and which was supposed to be drawn to NBPOL was drawn to the advisor for provincial DAL Mr Hoseah, just days before the trip.

Governor Nakmai said he was not aware of how it was that those officers were paid more than what was approved for the trip.

"The trip is a non-issue as the PEC has approved their travel. It was resolved at the PEC and is no longer an issue," he said when contacted yesterday.

He said the trip was a privilege for the province where a memorandum was signed between the ANHI TAIDAO Agriculture and Forestry Technology Development Company and the WNB Provincial Government to develop downstream processing industries and investment opportunities.

Mr Edo refused to comment, saying; "I do not wish to put the Governor and his government in a position. At the same time I do not want to pre-empt the findings of the Ombudsman Commission." The Commission is looking into the trip.

June 9, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

 

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