K136 million released in a single day to 'nulify' vote of no confidence challenge

12/12/2011 08:57

Papua New Guinea's 109-seat parliament where the Somare government managed to fight off

a vote of no confidence last year.

The Somare government released K136 million ($A54 million) in a single day last year to muster political support to fight off a vote of no confidence challenge.

National Planning Minister Sam Basil told Papua New Guinea’s parliament that the monies represented 75 per cent of the total funding, which the former government earmarked for its district support improvement program (DSIP) and provincial support improvement program (PSIP).

“A total K178 million was budgeted and released in 2010. Mr Speaker, it may amaze you to know that 75 per cent of these funds, or K136 million, was released all on one day – the 22nd July, 2010. On the very same day, 14 provinces and 55 districts each received K2 million in return for their support of the previous government during a motion of no confidence by the then Opposition,” he said.

Mr Basil was a member of the Opposition which unsuccessfully tried to topple then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare. However being in the alternate government placed him bottom in the pecking order when it came to the disbursement of government grants for development projects.

“Let me add, Mr Speaker, that then Opposition MPs of which I was a part had to wait for months for the release of this K2 million.”

The disparities in the allocation of funding under the DSIP and PSIP to the districts were obvious with Sohe getting the largest slice at K8 million, followed by Pomio (K6 million) and Rai Coast, Madang and North Fly all getting K5 million each.

The release of this mammoth amount of funding in a single day will add to other public funding that the former government has released without ensuring proper checks and balances were in place.

According to Mr Basil, it would be difficult for the government to monitor the benefits that funding from the DSIP and PSIP are supposed to bring to recipient districts.

“Mr Speaker, it is difficult to monitor the benefits of these programs because they have no specific purpose. The funds were not released to district treasuries and provincial treasuries in response to project submissions. There are known instances where the use of the funds was publicly announced for education facilities and other key services, but for most of the funds this type of announcements were not done.”