PNG PARLIAMENT PREPARES FOR AUDIT

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Details about whether funds misused being investigated

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 24, 2009) – Speaker Jeffery Nape yesterday instructed Clerk of Parliament Don Pandan to put their financial books in order for an audit to start.

This is the audit that will detail whether the accounts and funds of the Parliament House were misused and specify where the money has been used.

The audit comes after Speaker Nape announced in Parliament last Thursday that he was stepping aside to allow for the Auditor-General’s office to investigate the Parliament funds and look at his K1 million [US$156, 000] Morata house, often referred to as the "mansion in the middle of nowhere."

He rescinded his decision the next day (Friday last week) adding that he had sought advice from his lawyers on the matter.

Reports reaching the Post-Courier last week alleged that the events that unfolded during the Parliament session last Thursday by the speaker had to be done because the Government had decided the previous night (Wednesday) to remove him and install Agriculture Minister and Bogia MP John Hickey as the new speaker, while Mr. Nape was tipped for a ministry, so he could accept the motion.

Reports also alleged that the Speaker did not agree and announced that he would be on recreational leave to allow the deputy speaker to act while the Auditor General’s office and Finance Department can audited the National Parliament books.

It was also alleged that when Speaker Nape had the chair, the Government would not move a vote against him as he would rule it out using his prerogative under the standing order.

Nape, when asked if he was pressured to rescind his decision by the National Alliance - Highlands faction, neither denied nor confirmed the pressure to change his mind but said "when we enter Parliament we are politicians" and every Member that comes into Parliament plays politics by his or her political party.

"There was no pressure actually, but what I intended to do was when the executive arm of Government was meeting, I wanted to close Parliament and open it in November but there was no immediate funds as I wanted to make sure there were funds available to renovate the whole Parliament.

"Because there was no money forthcoming, I had to do something and bring back the sitting date to May," Nape said.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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