$2M PNG Tax Credit Disappears

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No infrastructure development that was funded

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 5, 2015) – A K6 million [US$2,224,000] tax credit scheme funding for the Gobe Agro Technical High School in the Erave district, Southern Highlands has disappeared with nothing to show for on the ground.

A visit to the school by members of the Southern Highlands provincial assembly led by deputy Governor James Mali and chairman of Education Daniel Peipo found that much of the K6 million [US$2,224,000] funded for the infrastructure developments at the school has gone lost while the only physical development evident is an incomplete staff house and two semi- permanent dormitories like a public market building left idle and in an deteriorating stage.

School Principal Thompson Wombulu said that under the Gobe oil project tax credit scheme, a total of K6 million [US$2,224,000] was funded for the construction of staff houses, classrooms and dormitories.

However, he said although the money was released, no development has taken place therefore the school was in need of infrastructure and other equipment to qualify as a high school.

Mr Wombulu said the name of the school sound fancy but school is run down and has no buildings like staff houses, dormitories, classroom, science and computer laboratories, student dining hall and library.

He said currently the high school was sharing classroom with the Don Morsely primary school.

However he with the increase in student numbers the Primary needs classroom therefore they would soon be told to move and look for their own classroom.

He said although the school was established under the Gobe oil project, the project has not benefited the people from the area while landowners continue to play politics, denying the services to the majority of the people in Sembirigi valley.

He called on the provincial government through the leadership of Governor Powi to investigate the how the funds have been used as it was a public fund.

He also recommended to the members of the provincial assembly to rename the school to Sembirigi High School as there is not use calling it Gobe when there is no assistance from the Gobe project benefits.

He said teacher shortage is also a major problem as few teachers who came to the school left due to lack of facilities and hardship of accessing services, leaving only four of them teaching all the seven subjects.

He said despite the problem they kept the school running to serve the community as transferring students out to other schools is difficult for the parents.

However he thanked the government of Peter O’Neill for the tuition fee free education policy that has assisted the school with its operation to provide necessary equipment and materials stationaries.

He also thanked Governor Powi for prioritising education and for his initiative to fix the high schools and secondary schools in the province and for bring specialist science and mathematics teachers from India.

Meanwhile Mr Mali said Gobe Agro technical high school will benefit from the provincial government’s maintenance program with more than K40 million [US$14,964,000] funded to improve the run down facilities in 15 High Schools and 7 Secondary schools in the Province.

He said 80 containers of materials for the construction and maintenances of the schools are on the way and work is expected to start soon.






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