Electricity To PNG Government House, Parliament Building Disconnected Due To Unpaid Bills

Outstanding payments lead to cuts to Police headquarters and Lawes Road health center as well

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 16, 2017 – Two important Government institutions – Government House and Parliament House – are without electricity after power was disconnected for non-payment of outstanding bills.

Power was also cut to other institutions in Port Moresby, including the Police headquarters and the Lawes Road health centre both at Konedobu.

Electricity service provider PNG Power started its disconnection exercise on Tuesday forcing these institutions to close for the day and remain closed yesterday.

These institutions owe more than K1 million [US$309,000].

[PIR editor's note: On Feb. 16, 2017 The National reported that 'Power supply to the Central Government Building in Waigani has been reconnected after the arrears of K1.2 million (US$370,000) was settled, Personnel Management Secretary John Kali says. ... He also announced cost-saving measures at the Government offices to monitor the use of electricity.']

Officers at the Government House were not able to perform their ceremonial duties yesterday, but even without electricity, acting Governor-General Theodore Zurenuoc managed to swear in two acting judges.

Government House owes PNG Power K200,000 [US$62,000], officials said.

"This does not mean that we do not have money, but the function has been taken back to Finance Department and we only provide the bills for them to settle. Even before checking with Finance, PNG Power went ahead to cut the power," a senior officer said.

Mr Zurenuoc who was about to drive out of the Government House premises with his guard, confirmed the power cut.

Mr Zurenuoc, who is also the Speaker, was about to go to Parliament House when advised at the Government House gate that Parliament was also in the dark for non-payment of bills, prompting him to stop work and tell staff to go home.

Acting Parliament Clerk Kala Aufa confirmed the power cut that forced him to order fuel to get the standby generator going as of 11am yesterday.

However, he fears the worst if the power is not reconnected soon because funds are limited for such operations.

Mr Aufa said they owe PNG Power K600,000 [US$185,000], but they were unable to settle it as all payment of utilities are now controlled by Finance.

He is concerned similar actions will be taken against them by telecommunication and water service providers Telikom and Eda Ranu, if their bills are not settled by Finance.

He was at Vulupindi Haus yesterday afternoon to talk to Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan.

Similarly, the Department of Police has outstanding power bills of K300,000 [$92,600], resulting in the disconnection.

Attempts to contact Mr Ngangan and the Finance Minister James Marape were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the Opposition leader Don Polye in a statement blamed the Government for the cash flow problem the country was going through as a result of mismanagement of funds that is affecting the entire government system.

He said that according to sources, the Parliament salaries will be affected as the Government has failed to give the required monthly payment of K8 million [US$2.5 million] and was only paid K6 million [US$1.9 million].

PNG Post-Courier
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