PNG Opposition’s Namah ‘Welcomes’ Alleged Fraud Probe

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Opposition’s Namah ‘Welcomes’ Alleged Fraud Probe Denies monies for road project were used inappropriately

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 6, 2013) – Opposition leader Belden Namah has welcomed investigations into how the K9.9 million [US$4.4 million] of Log Export Development Levy funds from the Vanimo Timber Rights Purchase (TRP) blocks 1-6 project area in Bewani that has been obtained and spent.

Mr. Namah has accused the O’Neill-Dion government of orchestrating the police Fraud Squad investigation into the K9.9 million, describing the action as "cheap politics and highly malicious" and intended to silence him from exposing corruption in government.

The Opposition leader said just as the mineral and hydrocarbon development area landowners are entitled to memorandum of agreement (MOA) funds or development levies, forest landowners where logging projects are taking place are also entitled to funds under the Forest Export Levy.

He said the monies in question, accordingly, are designated and allocated for infrastructure development within the Vanimo TRP, blocks 1-6 project area in Bewani.

"I must state categorically that the funds were lawfully applied for that purpose. The funds were used to seal the road between Vanimo secondary school and Krisa village by a contractor who was lawfully awarded the contract through normal procurement processes," Mr. Namah said.

He said the screening process in awarding the contract is as follows:

"The Trust Committee does the final screening before it is put through the normal Central Supply and Tenders process," Mr. Namah said.

"I can confirm that the project for which the K9.9 million was expended went through the required process and I am dumb founded as to why I get the front page coverage (in the National newspaper) over funds which I had no personal control over.

"The funds were lawfully applied through the due processes and for the intended purpose which is infrastructure development within the Timber Project Area.

"This is cheap politics and highly malicious. This is the action of a government desperately intent on silencing me from exposing corruption at every level of government.

"I will not be intimidated and I will fight on for the silent, ignorant, suppressed, oppressed and exploited people of this country.

"I hope the Fraud Squad has the case all wrapped up to send me to jail. I must caution the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to be professional and neutral in the discharge of their constitutional functions and responsibilities.

"The people of Papua New Guinea, and especially my people in Vanimo Green District, have the right to know the truth - that I as an open MP for Vanimo Green electorate, sealed 12 kilometers of road for K9.9 million using their Log Export Development Levy compared to K57 million [US$25.6 million] in public monies awarded to Hebou Construction using section 61 approval of the Finance Management Act to seal only 800 meters of road between Erima Bridge and Port Moresby Business College in the 5 Mile area in Port Moresby."

The contract was awarded in 2013 when Peter O’Neill was the PM and Don Polye was the Finance and Treasury Minister.

"This is what the Ombudsman Commission, the Task Force Sweep Team and the Police Fraud Squad should be investigating," Mr. Namah said.

"I must now invite all these anti-corruption agencies to step up the fight to clear this lovely nation of ours from the cancer of corruption."

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