Thursday, August 12, 2010

Government MPs get K2 million each

ABOUT 50 members of the ruling coalition government were each paid K2 million to lure support from other members so they could remain in power, sources within the Finance Department revealed yesterday, The National reports.

The sources said former acting finance minister and treasurer Arthur Somare and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare allegedly instructed the department to immediately release K2 million each to the 50 members of the government coalition as per their listing soon after parliament ad-journed last month.

The sources also revealed that the department was advised not to release any district support improvement programme (DSIP) funds to the members of the opposition.

According to the sources, the normal transfer process was that the finance secretary would advise the Bank of PNG to release the funds to the district treasuries after acquittals of previous funds were furnished.

However, the finance and treasury sources admitted that the normal financial management processes of transfer of funds to the district treasuries were not followed.

The funds were dished out to MPs.

Documents revealed that MPs in government were allegedly paid K2 million each straight after Speaker Jeffery Nape adjourned parliament to Nov 16.

Another source confirmed that the funds, from part of the DSIP, were paid out from the Department of National Planning office and collected by individual MPs in person straight after the adjournment.

A bank document obtained by The National showed that national planning deposited K2 million into one member’s DSIP account on July 26, five days after parliament adjourned on July 21.

The sources could not confirm if each of the recipients of the funds had submitted their acquittals.

The sources admitted they had to act on political instructions to release the funds, whether or not the processes were followed, as they feared losing their jobs.

However, they said each member of parliament was entitled to K60 million of DSIP funds.

They would receive these funds as and when the secretary gave the approval for the transfer of the funds after receiving their acquittals.

The sources could not confirm when and how much each member of parliament was going to be paid, but it was the secretary’s discretion to do so.

Staff at the Department of Finance spoke out after Bulolo MP Sam Basil approached them about his electorate’s DSIP funds.

Staff did not divulge much due to the presence of journalists accompanying Basil.

However, the workers did admit that the funds were allegedly not disbursed equally as stipulated in the constitution.

They said many members had not completed their acquittals but were paid the funds to “help the government stay in power”.

Basil said as far as he was concerned, opposition MPs had not received any of the K2 million DSIP funds distributed recently.

“We are eager to know when these funds will be released to us in order to implement programmes in our electorates,” Basil added.


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