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Billions of kina parked in numerous trust accounts

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 11. 2008) – The Opposition is questioning why massive amounts of money being kept in trust accounts by the government for years were not being spent.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR archives, $376 million went through Papua New Guinea’s public accounts without records for a year.]

It has also raised questions about the safeness of such money, said to be in billions and sitting idly in trust accounts with no one knowing what is happening to it.

The Opposition’s suspicions came days after Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his government ministers admitted placing millions of kina in trust accounts.

Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta expressed grave concerns as to why almost K5 billion of un-spent public money was being "stored" in trust accounts and not spent on decaying infrastructures.

Sir Mekere told nearly 200 businessmen and women, including members of the public, of the Port Moresby Rotary Club on Tuesday night, that while he agreed such unused money should be stored away and left to accumulate, there was no guarantee those millions were safe.

"It worries me that by virtually hiding excess revenue in trust accounts, the Government is in fact avoiding the annual scrutiny of the budgetary process of expenditure allocation," he said.

"No one knows what is happening to these trust accounts right now. It is very well a good idea of storing away money, but there’s no guarantee it is safely stored away."

The monies being kept in trust accounts are supposed to be spent on implementing the Government’s development programs.

However, during a talk back show last week, Sir Michael lashed out at public servants for not using those monies, resulting in them being stored in trust accounts.

However, Sir Mekere, who was a former prime minister, said those billions should be pumped back into the public service to beef up its capacity.

"This idea of storing away money is problematic and aggravated by the fact that government is doing nothing to address the problems," he said.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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