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By James Kila

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 5) - A lot of government funding is not reaching Papua New Guinea provinces and districts because of "gross mismanagement" by key Government departments in Port Moresby, Eastern Highlands Governor Malcolm Kela-Smith said.

He said that despite legislative changes to tighten up control and spending, there was still a lot of abuse.

"As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I’ve seen that there is complete break-down in the financial system and accountability of public funds at national departments in Moresby," he said.

Mr. Kela-Smith said there was more than enough money in Port Moresby to bring changes to the country but "due to gross-mismanagement these monies are not filtering down to help the people, who matter most".

He said that when he was deputy chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, he noted that there were contractors who bribed officers at Waigani to process their checks faster.

He was speaking at the launching of the Eastern Highlands Provincial Audit Committee last week.

Also present were Finance Secretary Gabriel Yer and Auditor-General George Sullimann.

Kela-Smith said Eastern Highlands province was keen to set up its audit committee to bring back accountability and good governance in the provincial departments.

Mr. Yer admitted that there was gross mismanagement of public funds but gave an assurance that some control mechanisms were being established.

He said that corruption and bribery was a major problem in Papua New Guinea and efforts to fight it would only work if national and provincial leaders worked together.

Mr. Sullimann commended Eastern Highlands leaders and financial managers for being transparent and prudent with public funds.

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