AN unpleasant Christmas surprise awaited PNG Defence Force soldiers at the weekend – they were told that can expect to go hungry for the rest of the festive season, The National reports.
This was because after serving them their Christmas Day meals on Saturday, contracted caterer NCS announced yesterday in a media statement that it had withdrawn catering services to the PNG Defence Force.
“This action is the result of non-payment of accounts dating back to April totalling more than K7 million,” NCS financial controller Tony Green said on behalf of the company’s board of directors.
He said NCS regretted withdrawing its services but it was left with no choice after numerous demands for payment, both verbal and written, over a period of several months went unheeded.
Green said that notice to suspend the catering services was given more than one month ago but was lifted after a payment was promised
“Unfortunately, that payment never eventuated and, two weeks ago, a final notice was given to PNGDF that services would cease if payment was not forthcoming.”
He said that while the PNGDF had always been slow to pay for services, the current level of debt and the time waiting to be paid had never been as bad as it was now.
Green added that the board had met and resolved that the risk to NCS and its suppliers was too great to continue incurring expenses without any clear sign of payment.
“NCS is a 100% PNG-owned company that has, in partnership with other PNG landowner companies, been very successful in winning contracts against international competition.
“Allowing the PNGDF debt to continue to grow would pose an enormous risk to NCS and its other clients,” he said.
The withdrawal of services would affect PNGDF messing facilities at Murray Barracks, Taurama Barracks, Goldie River Barracks, Igam Barracks (Lae), Moem Barracks (Wewak) and Lombrum naval base (Manus).