PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 7) - Jailed Madang Governor and Rai Coast MP, James Yali is reported to have lost PGK50,000 [US$17,156] from his parliamentary retirement benefit fund because someone else had forged his signature to get the money.

The retirement benefit fund scheme for Members of Parliament is administered by Parliament itself.

There are controlling mechanisms to ensure the MPs’ funds are safe and secured and paid out only when the right time comes. That means whether an MP retires from politics or is no longer an MP for whatever reasons.

No one can get to those funds without authority from the MP himself or herself.

It is for this reason that we believe questions need to be asked as to how such a large amount of money belonging to Mr. Yali could have easily "disappeared" from his superannuation records at Parliament.

How could the parliamentary staff not pick up the alleged fraud when claims were made to them.

This matter raises extremely serious questions about the integrity of Parliament’s own financial management system. There is a serious problem in that system that needs to be looked into immediately.

Police are conducting their own investigations into how the money came to be paid out. But Parliament should have its own investigations into how claims were paid out without alarm bells being raised. Have any bribes been paid at Parliament House? Those involved must be handed over to police for questioning.

Millions of kina has been paid out through bogus claims in government departments and organizations and now Parliament itself.

We suggest that the new Government should commission a major investigation into the operations of the National Parliament sooner rather than later. The Government should find out how the parliamentary system is being managed and whether it is doing its work efficiently and with integrity.

The Government’s Rightsizing the Public Sector Committee has been critical of the way Parliament has been spending public funds, saying it seemed there was no accountability in the way Parliament spends funds.

Parliament has a duty to ensure that it is accountable for the way it spends public funds. It must also be accountable for the way it manages the retirement benefit funds for MPs.

If the parliamentary service is not accountable for the way it administers and spends funds, let alone managing the retirement benefit funds for MPs, then God help the rest of us.

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