Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Governor:K51 million used to garner MPs’ support

MORE than K51 million in special support grant (SSG) funds for Western was paid to MPs to garner support last November, Western Governor Dr Bob Danaya claimed yesterday, The National reports.
Claiming he has evidence of the transfer of his province's funds to pay MPs, Danaya said he had instructed Loani Henao Lawyers to take the matter up in court to force the government to reimburse the money.
He said the province was owed K60 million in outstanding SSG between the years 2000 and 2006.
This money had been reduced to K9 million, he said and claimed he knew where the missing K51 million had gone to.
"It was wrongly used by the government to bribe members of parliament," Danaya alleged in a statement.
"Only K9 million was transferred to the provincial government treasury account.
"This is gross abuse of power and funds earmarked for projects in Western.
"This is gross corruption at the highest political level."
Finance secretary Gabriel Yer confirmed last night that the government owed the Western provincial government a substantial amount of money but denied such funds had been used in the manner alleged.
Yer said: "It is correct that we owe them. They will still be paid.
"The money appropriated might have lapsed but a number of projects have been submitted and we are going through the process at the moment.
"Planning and finance are going through that process. We acknowledge that we owe money to Western and they will be paid."
Yer said projects worth about K30 million had been received and the government would honour its commitments.
He was uncertain about the exact amount owed and said he would need to consult with planning.
Danaya is the second governor to take the national government to court over outstanding SSG funds.
New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan has a case on foot against the government over an outstanding K400 million owed to his provincial government, being SSG money from the Lihir gold mine.
Danaya said he had traced some of the money to projects which were never budgeted for this year and which were not part of government's priority areas.
The angry governor expressed deep concern in the way the government was handling the finances of the nation.
"There is no control in Waigani in applying good governance so there is accountability and transparency.
"Political leaders do not care whether they breach laws governing financial management.
"Corruption has become systemic and systematic and is very fast destroying Papua New Guinea."
SSG funds are funds that are given to host provincial governments of resource projects by the national government.
It is a component of the national government's overall receipt from the mine, calculated at 0.25% of revenue.
The money is held in trust with the Department of National Planning and Monitoring.
Danaya called on the government to detail where the money had gone to and, furthermore, to reimburse Western's K51 million.
"I will not rest until justice is done," he said. "How they do it and where they get the money is their problem so long as they do not steal again during the process."

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