Bougainville Government Owed $86.7 Million By PNG

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ABG finance minister claims grants underpaid since 2005

By Winterford Toreas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 18, 2013) – Papua New Guinea’s National Government still owes the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) more than K188 million [US$86.7 million] for its Restoration and Development Grants (RDG).

This was revealed by the ABG Minister for Finance and Planning Albert Punghau during a special one day ABG Parliament Sitting on Tuesday this week.

Mr. Punghau said the National Government had been underpaying the ABG since its establishment in 2005, resulting in these outstanding RDGs funding amounting to over K188 million.

"A recalculation of ABG’s entitlements shows that ABG has been severely underpaid by the National Government.

"It has been calculated that since 2005 to 2013, total RDG payable to the ABG is K87,000,000 [US$40.1 million]. This leaves the ABG with an outstanding amount of K188,048,726 [US$86.7 million] that is owing and payable to the ABG," Mr. Punghau said.

Mr. Punghau however said the ABG officials and their counterparts from the National Government were currently discussing over this matter.

Mr. Punghau also announced that ABG officials were currently in the nation’s capital to present the High Impact Projects (HIPs) and RDG report to the Departments of National Planning and Finance.

During their meetings, they will also be discussing on the release of the second batch of K100 million and K15m RDG for Bougainville.

Meanwhile, Mr. Punghau when commenting on the ABG’s High Impact Projects for last year said four infrastructure projects had already been awarded funding as of the 31st of December last year.

The delay in the awarding of funding and implementation of these projects is due to the late drawdown of K100 million [US$46.1 million] grant funding from the National Government.

Apart from the above four projects, seven other infrastructure projects are currently being undertaken by the Division of Technical Services.

These projects are categorized under the transport infrastructure and building infrastructure sectors. Those in the transport infrastructure sector include the Buka ring road upgrading and sealing (survey tender already given out), economic feeder roads (contract awarded for two feeder roads while another three still on tender), Buka town roads, Bougainville bridges projects (design and scoping), Bougainville wharves and jetties and Siara-Korepovi (survey, design and construction).

The building infrastructure sector involves the tendering of classroom steel-frame buildings for three high schools in Bougainville.

Mr. Punghau said 28 HIP non-infrastructure projects for last year had also been awarded funding.

These include monitoring and evaluation, Torokina Oil Palm Development, Peace Building initiatives and Bougainville sports development.

Despite the late implementation of the HIP projects, Mr. Punghau said there is a positive indication from the first two months of this year that there has been an increase in the number of projects being appraised and an increased expenditure.

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