By ISAAC NICHOLAS
THE state is to sell off its K120 million Falcon jet as part of a cost-cutting exercise to counter the blow-out in the cost of running government, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said yesterday, The National reports
Announcing his government's major policy initiatives in his maiden speech as prime minister, he also told parliament that the government would provide free education next year and introduce measures to weed out corruption.
"Top of the list of cost-control measures will be the sale of the government's executive Falcon jet," he said.
O'Neill said it cost the nation K120 million to buy it and K22 million a year to operate it.
"This money can be better spent on the education and health sectors," he said.
He said instructions had already been given to Air Niugini to place the jet on the market.
He promised to impose strict controls on domestic and international travels by ministers and departmental heads.
He said the Office of Ministerial Services was to centralise and manage ministerial expenditure.
He promised to speed up the PNG LNG project and fast-track other mining projects throughout the country, assuring landowners that environmental issues would be seriously and independently looked at.
He plans to re-introduce the Independent Commission Against Corruption Bill that will have more powers than the Leadership Code to cover those in the public and private sector.
The policy statement by the prime minister assured Papua New Guineans that the government of national unity was not on a "witch-hunt and to destroy" good things that the past government had delivered.
"Obviously, we will take stock of the nation's economic, political and social score-card at the outset of this government's stock," O'Neill said.
"We shall be streamlining the nation's public finance management system in the coming weeks.
"It is our desire to see to it that government-planned national development agenda under the 2011 National Budget, especially the national development and public investment projects component remains on track and is implemented accountably.
"To oversee successful implementation of the 2011 development budget, this government has split the Ministry of National Planning, Monitoring and Rural Development into separate ministries of national planning and of implementation and rural development."
O'Neill said it would ensure efficiency in planning and monitoring of government project implementation and cut wastage.
"This government has to desire to see well-meaning national development initiatives becoming marginalised or neglected by the onset of complacency, corruption and pursuit of personal interest.
"We give an assurance that we shall provide assertive and accountable political leadership," he said.
"We will be putting brakes on our nation's
further slide towards damaging our nation's integrity by the apparent onset of systemic and systematic corruption, instability and chaos that has built up throughout the government system in recent years."