Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Papua New Guinea Public Service Commission overpayments


"Quis custodiet ipsos! Custodes? (Who is to guard the guards themselves?) Juvenal (63 -130)
I refer to the article below in The National on Tue 29Dec09
If the PNG Public Service Commission is currently under investigation, then all those who have been identified by the Public Accounts Committee should be required to take paid leave until after their investigation is complete. How can the PNG public service have any faith in their Service's leadership if the rot apparently starts from the top?
If there is prima facie evidence that the PS Commissioners may have breached the law, the recipients should not be allowed to continue to act in their role as Commissioners until the matter is resolved. No wonder that there are constant disputes over 'missing' millions of Kina.
Where overpayments are detected there must be immediate action. There are only two possible alternatives:
1. There has been an unintentional mistake by both those paying the out the public monies and those receiving the funds, or
2. There has been intentional theft.
In the first instance, those who have received funds they were not entitled to must demonstrate they didn't know they were being overpaid. They must then pay these public monies back immediately. If necessary, recipients of overpayments must either negotiate with their employer (the PNG government) for pay the overpayment back by instalments on their salary within a very limited time or they go out and get a bank loan like everyone else has to.
The longer they take to pay bank the overpayment, the more they should be charged compound interest on the overpaid funds. Recipients MUST not come to believe they actually own the overpaid money as these funds have virtually been an interest free loan (from the public taxpayers). These actions are essential otherwise it sets a benchmark that others could expect to follow.
In the second instance, it is a matter for the police, public prosecutor and courts. While no one should be declared guilty until proven so in a court,
there might be some possible leniency offered by the court if the recipients paid all overpaid money back immediately as an act of good faith.
Any departure from the above alternatives will give an entirely wrong message to the rest of the PNG public service.

Paul Oates

Tue, 29/12/2009
'PSC bosses overpaid by millions'
THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has established that commissioners of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and several staff received significant "extra" payments of salary and entitlements running into "millions of kina" and there is sufficient evidence for investigations into the commission.
Government insiders said the figures actually run into "millions of kina", and according to a PAC document ""there is prima facie evidence of possible
breaches of law by Commissioners, officers and staff of the commission sufficient to warrant referral for further investigations".
At this stage, no figures were disclosed because "there is evident confusion as to the true entitlements of Constitutional office holders".
But according to the document, an executive summary of PAC findings, obtained by The National, the PSC "admits the fact of all of the payments,
but challenges the amount of those over payments".
Despite the challenge and confusion the PAC "finds that commissioners of the Public Service Commission accepted large overpayments with no query or demur".
The PAC also found that there were significant failures of management, command control, accountability and record keeping within the PSC.
The PAC considered this a reckless indifference and said commissioners "should be relieved of their positions" and the matters be urgently
addressed by the Government.
PAC investigations into the PSC stem from a report from the Auditor-General dating back to Dec 28, 2004, and several amended reports.
Although the PAC criticised the quality of the Auditor-General's original report, it endorsed its findings and related amendments.
On that, the PAC resolved that its findings be presented to Parliament as per the Public Finances (Management) Act and Permanent Committees Act.
For a start, the PAC advocates for an urgent review into the receipts of salary and allowances of all commissioners and other Constitutional office
It also resolved that it would approve and direct the findings of the Auditor-General's office report to the Ombudsman, the Public Prosecutor, the
Solicitor General, the Police and the Department of Personnel Management.
Furthermore, that the salaries and remuneration commission urgently consider the content of the Auditor-General's report and clarify the true
entitlements of Constitutional office holders in order that overpayments and other abuses may be identified and stopped.
The Government source said such issues of overpayment of salaries and entitlements are a protracted issue and a chronic problem in the public
service that needs to addressed.
"And this is uncalled for, especially from the premiere public service body in Papua New Guinea," the source said, adding "for how long can we allow
such abuse of funds to continue when the majority of people in rural areas, and taxpayers are deprived of essential services".
PAC member Sam Basil, when commenting on these findings, stressed that the Government must provide relevant support to ensure recommendations presented are implemented and achieve results.


  1. Anonymous6:15 PM

    Everyone who received overpayments and did not return to overpaid monies to the recurrent budget MUST be stood down for ingross inefficienty, mismanagement of public funds, fraud, dishonesty, and seen to be defrauding the PNG Taxpayers... They should ALL be suspended without pay...

  2. I took my last vacation around Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea. it is one of the most beautiful places in the world, I would like to live in the capital!!