by Delly Bagu – EM TV, Port Moresby
Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry and Member for Yangoru-Saussia Richard Maru, believes there is a crime syndicate in East Sepik province.
He said this at a media conference today, following allegations that K1.2 million kina, allocated to refurbish Boram General Hospital in East Sepik province, was stolen.
The K1.2 million kina allegedly stolen was part of K2 million allocated by the Prime Minister for the hospital. Maru was with the Boram General Hospital Board Chairman Allan Bird at the media conference.
Mr Bird explained that the national government gave Boram K2 million for maintenance of its old infrastructure. The funds were placed in the custody of the East Sepik Provincial Administration.
Mr Bird said the hospital board authorised the use of part of these funds to buy a new X-ray machine. But, unknown to them, he said over K1.2 million was paid to a contractor under the pretext of doing maintenance work on one toilet at the hospital.
He said the hospital board can only award contracts for up to a maximum of K500,000. Mr Bird said he has tried getting answers from the provincial administration as to why the payment was cleared through the banking system, without prior checks with the hospital’s acting CEO or board chairman.
Maru said someone in the Provincial Treasury cleared and released the payments to the so-called contractor. He described this as a crime syndicate at work.
Maru said he will work with authorities to ensure those implicated are brought to justice. All evidence has been given to police and investigations will take four to six weeks.