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$3.6 million released for roadway but $1.6 million ‘missing’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 3, 2008) - A total of PGK4 million [US$1.6 million] of the PGK9.1 million [US$3.6 million] released for the Homa-Tari road has gone missing between Waigani and Moran, Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru said yesterday.

Mr. Agiru said PGK9.1 million was released by the National Government in August for the road project, but only PGK5 million had reached the project area.

"A total of PGK4 million went missing between Waigani and Moran."

The Homa-Tari road was a project covered under the 1998 Moran memorandum of agreement and had received PGK122 million in the last 10 years.

He said had all the PGK9 million paid in August reached its intended recipients, work would be continuing today.

Agiru said he was concerned about the wastage of millions of kina and was pushing for transparency and accountability of MoA funds.

He issued the statement after Moran landowners issued threats to stop oil flow until the Government released MoA funds promised in the supplementary budget to be managed by landowner companies.

"I do not want my landowners to threaten the National Government and Oil Search on the ground," Agiru said.

Agiru said a further PGK9 million allocated by the Treasurer for the Homa-Tari road project must be managed by Oil Search.

"I want that money managed by Oil Search while road construction can be done by the landowner company, Moran Development Corporation, and funding released only for certified work done.

"Presently, a lot of money is allocated with little to show for.

"That is why I am saying that the National Government-allocated money be managed by Oil Search for the road to be built and we get value for money," Agiru said.

He said the Somare-Temu Government allocated funds for MoA projects in the this supplementary budget and these funds should be managed by Oil Search.

"That way we will make sure that workers get paid, the road is built, landowners stay in business and the provincial government has a road asset."

Agiru said all other MoA money should also go along those same lines to avoid abuse of funds.

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