By MALUM NALU
Kokopo businessman Eremas Wartoto (pictured above with his Fokker 50) today declared that he had nothing to hide about the K10 million he received from the government to help start his Travel Air company.
He said this after arriving in Port Moresby from Madang on a training flight on his Fokker 50 with his pilots, a day after its arrival from Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
The F50 is one of seven plans that Wartoto plans to bring in to Papua New Guinea.
However, shortly after talking with reporters on the tarmac at Jackson Airport, Wartoto was seen being questioned by police detectives before he flew back to Madang
The K10m has been the subject of much controversy lately, with accusations of foul playing involving Wartoto and former National Planning Minister Paul Tiensten.
"I won't waste time," Wartoto told reporters.
"I'm going straight into training and infrastructure.
"I have no shame in spending some of that money in training our pilots and our engineers.
"The (K10m) subsidy was given to me.
"I applied for it from the government through normal processes and I was given the money.
"I thank the government for that subsidy.
"Today, you can see how that subsidy is being spent.
"The money is auditable and traceable.
"The K10m is not about buying the plane – it's about the infrastructure."
Wartoto said his new airline would travel into remote areas of the country such as Maprik in East Sepik, Palmalmal in East New Britain and Kandrian in West New Britain.
He also has plans to spend K150m on a new hangar in Madang and on setting up an aviation college.
"This is not about Eremas Wartoto," he said.
"This is about PNG infrastructure.
"This is about 200 national employees."
Wartoto said of the six additional aircraft to come, three would be from Malaysia on lease purchase while three would be from the USA on operating lease.
Asked about his move into aviation, he replied: "It's painful and the publicity doesn't help.
"I'll be based in Madang because that's the centre of PNG.
"Such an infrastructure drives development to the rural areas."