PNG PROVINCIAL OFFICIALS FACE ARREST OVER FUNDS

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By James Apa Gumuno

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 8) - A number of public servants - implicated in a report that highlighted widespread abuse and misappropriation of public funds in the Chimbu province in Papua New Guinea - will face prosecution, warned new acting administrator Joe Bal.

[PIR editor’s note: Chimbu province comprises the central part of Papua New Guinea’s mainland peninsula, northwest of the capital city of Port Moresby.]

Yesterday, Bal said he was currently studying a report compiled by the Internal Audit Unit from the Department of Finance, which was released on Aug 26, 2004.

He said according to that report, about PGK3 million [US$1.3 million] was misused by certain public servants who are named therein.

He said that he had already instructed the police to arrest the officers involved, adding that former provincial treasurer Francis Yigiora was arrested and charged as a result of this report.

Yegiora was arrested and charged for allegedly misappropriating PGK300,000 [US$103,367] in public funds. He has denied the charge and is currently on bail.

He said that PGK3 million was a lot of money, which means the people of Chimbu will miss out on more goods and services.

Bal said the provincial administration was a mess and it would take him about six months to clean it up.

Bal claimed that the people of Chimbu have been taken on a ride for too long.

He claimed that there was too much corruption and misuse of government resources, which was a barrier - stopping people from receiving better goods and services.

Former acting provincial administrator Joe Kunda Naur said he is not aware of the report that Bal is talking about.

February 9, 2006

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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