PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday he will not apologise to anyone for the K500 million spending by his government in the last three months in office because it was budgeted for, The National reports.
Opposition spokesman and Madang regional MP Sir Arnold Amet had said at the weekend that K500 million had been misused and dished out to MPs and a law firm outside of budget appropriation and would result in a possible budget shortfall.
O’Neill said the money was spent on basic services and was never paid to individual MPs as alleged.
Also yesterday, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Sir Puka Temu denied receiving K5 million from the batch of K500 million.
Pomio MP Paul Tiensten called yesterday for an investigation into the allegations, claiming that here was a clear case for Operation Sweep to sink its teeth into. The Task Force Sweep had caused Tiensten to be arrested and charged twice.
The prime minister said such comments coming from a man of Sir Arnold’s standing were irresponsible and unbecoming of a former chief justice.
The funds were released for services such as health, schools and roads “and I will not apologise to anyone for spending money on services”, O’Neill said.
Referring to an K18 million payment to the Young and Williams law firm, he said the government had to pay its legal bills for services rendered.
With regards to the K14 million recorded against his name, O’Neill said the funding was for the Ialibu-Pangia road.
He said no money was paid to MPs in their names but it all went to the various districts in their electorates.
He urged Sir Arnold to take such evidence of “misuse of funds”, if any, to the appropriate authorities including the Task Force Sweep.
“No one is above the law, including the prime minister,” O’Neill said.
He said Sir Arnold was supposed to be a learned person with high standing and should refrain from making cheap political point-scoring statements.