PNG Embassy Staff Locked Out Of Washington DC Offices Over Unpaid Rent

Overseas missions all suffer from dwindling funds

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 30, 2017) – There's disappointment in Papua New Guinea that operations of another of its overseas missions has effectively ground to a halt.

A recent court decision in Washington DC to lock out PNG Embassy staff follows three months of arrears in rental payments.

Dwindling funds to overseas missions by PNG's government has seen High Commission and Embassy staff in Singapore, Beijing and Washington go through long periods without pay in the last year.

The leader of the National Party Kerenga Kua said the issue had been raised before but that the O'Neill government had been unresponsive.

Mr Kua said there was a lack of priority placed on the work of the public servants PNG sends abroad to represent its interest.

PNG was temporarily suspended from the United Nations this year after failing to pay its UN fees, something PNG's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato attributed to an administrative glitch.

"The O'Neill Government has spent a fortune during the campaign period telling PNG, in a series of glossy advertisements, about how it has put PNG on the world stage," Mr Kua explained.

"Hosting regional and global events has given us some recognition, but at the cost of so many other high priority areas like health and education."

Securing the right for PNG to host next year's APEC leaders summit has been one of the big scores of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's six years in office.

His government has been deploying significant resources towards preparing for the summit in the past 20 months.

But sources within the PNG diplomatic corp have signalled a situation of precarious finances for at least two years.

"Our foreign missions are in place for various reasons, but specifically in relation to APEC, they will play a significant roll in getting world leaders and their staff here for the event," said Mr Kua.

"What is the point of spending so heavily on infrastructure for the event if we cannot afford to keep the doors of our front line PNG representatives open?

Mr Kua has urged the government to immediately disclose to the nation the true financial situation of all its diplomats and their respective posts.

Radio New Zealand International
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