PROVINCIAL OFFICIALS FACE COMMUNITY UPROAR IN PNG

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$5 million diverted from educational programs

By Simon Eroro PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 27, 2011) - The Oro Provincial Government and its administration are faced with another problem.

A committee appointed by the Provincial Executive Council (PEC), the Oro Development Committee and Management Unit, diverted 12 million kina [US$5.4 million] from a 17.5 million kina [US$7.8 million] education development grant to purposes other than its intended use.

The Post- Courier was informed that this has upset many schools in the province.

And students and teachers in schools around the province were yesterday mobilizing to march into town to petition Governor Suckling Tamanabae, Provincial Administrator Owen Awaita, the administration, PEC members and members of the two committees appointed by the PEC.

Mr. Tamanabae, Mr. Awaita and the Provincial Education Adviser Ian Kopukoro could not be reached for comments as their phones were switched off since Tuesday.

Minister for Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology and MP for Ijivitari David Arore said last night that he was surprised as to how the K17.5m specifically earmarked for rehabilitation of education facilities was diverted.

Mr. Arore said as a minister and leader of the province, he had no idea of when the funds were released to the province, but only learnt later of how it was exhausted – while demanding an investigation into the matter.

From documents this newspaper obtained, Mr. Awaita wrote to the provincial treasurer Leo Wangi on October 7, 2011, directing that the summary schedule for all the claims be paid from the development vote.

Mr. Awaita’s letter read: "Presented for your exclusive processing of claims specific to the development funding component of K17.5m for the rehabilitation of education facilities in the province and facilitations within its 10 per cent administration for as per ODC Resolution No 1/11 of 6th and September 7, 2011".

Mr. Awaita advised in the letter that the Certificates of Inexpediencies (CoI) have been approved at both the Provincial Supply and Tenders Board (PSTB) and Central Supplies and Tenders Board (CSTB) levels for Northern Province.

From the K12m released, ODC members’ allowances cost (K10,000), DMU technical allowances (K37,800), DMU accommodation (K27,978) provision of stationeries (K823.80), official gifts (K875) and delegation to Republic of Korea (K65,805.80).

On outstanding bills, accommodation at Pondorosa Hotel incurred K6,930; Shalom Hire Cars –K19,745; private vehicle usage - K71,455; balanced unpaid (December 31, 2010) - K10,000, balanced unpaid November 12, 2010 - K4007; Work register (May 16, 2011) - K15,050; Work register (May 16, 2011) -K23,600; and K1095 was for PNG Pacific Resorts Limited.

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