Huge Problems With PNG School Repairs, Procurement, Accounting

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Minister: ‘Half of the claims submitted by contractors are bogus’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 5, 2014) – The repair bills for National Capital District schools are a staggering K320 million [US$125 million] and half of the claims submitted by contractors are bogus, Education Minister Nick Kuman told Parliament yesterday.

He said the information is contained in final audit reports of the Finance Department which detailed obvious bogus claims and shocking high costs by contractors under the short-lived RESI program, which was troublesome from the outset when introduced in 2007, especially in Port Moresby. But Mr Kuman said he was disappointed the report did not list whether projects were completed, incomplete or not done at all. He has referred the audit back to Finance Department to include these.

The minister’s revelations came as he was answering questions raised by Kikori MP Mark Maipakai. Mr Kuman said the audit failed to conclude the level of corruption that took place in the procurement process and the accounting process.

It failed to point out those responsible and penalise them under the public services general orders, he added. He said more than 50 percent of the contractors’ claims were bogus. "Only a few contractors were genuine in as far as delivering facilities in the nation’s capital but the bulk were bogus claims," he added.

He gave an example on landscaping work done on the National Library and National Archives in Waigani. "It’s sad to say but the development there is worth almost K164 million," he said.

One of the planter box cost about K5000 but was charged at K300,000. A stonewall with an initial cost of K10,000 was charged for K300,000. He said audit was not conclusive and there was no scope of work. Mr Kuman dissatisfied with the report told parliament that he is sending the report back to the department of finance and treasury for more information.

He wants to ascertain all payments from 2007 to date, list of bogus claims, contract documents, standard work or nil work done. It will ask for report on weakness in procurement and accounting systems and recommends for solutions.

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