PNG OFFICIALS ACCUSED OF POCKETING ‘BILLIONS’

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National Research Institute director cites theft of public funds

By Jonathan Tannos PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 30, 2010) - Lack of funds may not be the real reason for non-delivery of basic services to the people in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Instead it is the manipulative, misuse and stealing of billions of kina allocated annually for services.

Director of the National Research Institute, Dr. Thomas Webster said this when introducing the 2010 public sector seminar series on the issue of "ethical and effective governance."

[PIR editor’s note: Webster states in his March 25, 2010 Director’s Message on the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea website that funds earmarked for rural development projects is being stolen by pubic officials. "Programs have not been implemented because the funds allocated have been stolen outright," he writes. "Payments are made for projects even before the project has been started. In other cases, the funds have been expended but weak systems and processes have seen funds misused and maximum benefits not gained. "]

He said PNG’s human development indicators were among the lowest globally with lack of funds often cited as a major reason.

"I see a trend where public officials are designing public programs on how they will personally benefit from it rather than the common good. We have allowed our governance and management systems to be eroded to a situation where funds are now disappearing into a black hole," he said.

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