Papua New Guinea Loses Vote In United Nations For Failing To Pay Dues

Annual contribution of $180,000 required to regain voting rights

By Papua New Guinea correspondent Eric Tlozek

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 24, 2017) – Papua New Guinea has lost its vote in the United Nations General Assembly because it failed to pay its annual contributions.

PNG needs to pay the UN at least $180,000 to regain voting rights.

It is one of six countries whose voting rights have been suspended for non-payment — the others being Venezuela, Libya, Sudan, Cape Verde and Vanuatu.

The UN's announcement highlights recent problems with the PNG Government's payment of bills.

It comes after the state-owned electricity provider, PNG Power, cut services to the country's national parliament, Government House and several government agencies because of their failure to pay bills.

PNG Power said government agencies owed $11 million as of the end of 2016.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister raised the issue of PNG Government debts to NZ companies during a recent visit, and there are other examples of financial management problems.

One of the most disturbing is a reported food shortage at a major prison, Baisu Jail in Mount Hagen.

The jail's catering contractor ceased its services because it had not been paid and staff told local media they had to buy food themselves for 170 starving prisoners.

The UN suspension also comes as PNG strives to become an influential international player.

The country is preparing to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meetings throughout next year, culminating in the expensive leaders' summit in November.

There has been debate about whether PNG can afford the summit at a time of severe economic contraction and increasing public debt.

The Australian Government has acknowledged it will spend roughly $100 million helping PNG host APEC, which is logistically complicated and requires extensive security preparation.

The ABC contacted PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and the Department of Foreign Affairs but did not receive a response.

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