PNG GOVERNMENT REMISS ON RETIREMENT FUND

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 15, 2010) – Many hardworking public servants will be delighted to see the Government has confessed to dereliction of duty on superannuation dues.

Allied to the revelation is the news that the Government has finally handed over K65 million [US$24 million], representing the overdue contributions to the Nambawan Super Limited superannuation fund and the penalty interest payments for late submission.

The super fund members will be overjoyed that the money which should have been in their fund account in previous years, earning further dividends, has finally found its way to the rightful place!

In an era when the Government is spending lavishly on luxuries like a government jet for a reported PGK130 million [US$48 million], surely it could have paid off the unpaid super contributions totaling PGK105 million [US$39 million] earlier.

Buying of the plush Falcon jet could have waited while the Government paid what it owed to its own employees. But no, things like workers’ entitlements are seemingly trivial matters when compared to the perks and privileges of our political masters.

Similarly, our hospitals and health centers are still plagued by shortages of medicine and faltering equipment, such as the latest controversy over sterilization of doctors and nurses operating theatre tools and clothing at our "premier’’ hospital.

Our overworked medical people must be seething when hearing of the plan to erect a new hospital with overseas help, which will inevitably lure talent and financing away from the starved government system.

Getting back to the superannuation scandal, it is time for the Government to make a sincere statement of intention. It should make it plain how it views the timely remittance of the employer contributions to Nambawan Super and any other funds.

It is possible that the Government’s dilatory payment system has deprived members of the full benefits of their super scheme. Nambawan Super, like the private sector’s Nasfund, has been rewarding members with double-digit annual boosts to their accounts. Yet with as much as PGK105 million unpaid, it sounds as if this sin of omission may have resulted in the annual payments being less than they should have been. The public servants may have been "robbed’’ of their full rewards by their employer.

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