$4.2 Billion Missing From PNG Trust Accounts, Minister Alleges

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Awesa seeks investigation, fears losing LNG money in the future

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 12, 2013) – A Minister last night revealed that K9 billion [US$4.2 billion] appears to have disappeared from government-held trust accounts between 2007 and 2011.

Works and Implementation Minister Francis Awesa said much of the money could have been applied to urgent infrastructure projects around the country.

Awesa said an investigation must be conducted and quickly to uncover where the money had disappeared to.

"Some K9 billion is missing in trust accounts," Awesa said.

"Nobody can account for it. There are no records to verify how the funds were used.

"When my money from the LNG project comes in 2015, I don’t want the same thing to happen.

"We have missed out big whenever we took in big windfalls from major projects. I want to address issues of infrastructure," he said.

The minister made the same remarks when he addressed a gathering in Wabag, Enga, last Friday.

Last night Awesa said: "We seem to be forgiving and forgetting all the time even though we talk forever about corruption."

In his own area, he said he had uncovered instances where companies and individuals had been double dipping in contracts.

He said if a donor funded a project, companies that won contracts would collect money from the donor and then go to treasury or finance departments with the same claim and, using their cohorts within the system, would extract payment and he would not tolerate such actions.

A few companies and individuals would be made an example as soon as his own investigations were complete, he said.

Awesa said the government would not relax its push to expose people abusing public funds.

"The government is trying to change the attitude of leaders, including senior public servants, who abuse their authority and apply public funds for their personal gains. They will pay their price dearly."

Awesa has directed acting works secretary David Wereh to ensure contracts, mainly on construction, were awarded to companies with good track records.

He said he would travel around the country to ensure that projects worth millions of kina were carried out properly so that people in rural areas would benefit.

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