Department heads directed to charge officers

By Scott Waide

PNG’s Chief Secretary, Manasupe Zurenoc, has issued a reminder to the department heads of Finance and Works to take disciplinary action against officers involved in misuse of   kina meant for roads works in PNG’s second largest city.

Zurenoc who was the lead investigator said some of the recommendations that call for punitive action against corrupt officers haven’t been fully implemented.

The investigation conducted in 2011 uncovered a complex web of deception that spanned from the finance department to the Central supply and tenders board in Moresby.

The report also reveals how one officer in charge knowingly delayed the transfer of funds to the Works department by four months.  During that time, she paid out more than 3 million kina in unauthorized manual cheques to a contractor.

The investigation team also questioned how the foreign contractor was allowed to assume the supervisory role of the Government works department.

The managing contractor had clearly outlived its usefulness and has fraudulently allowed contracts to continue.  The report directed very clearly to get rid of the contractor and we are in the process of doing that, “said Zurenoc.  

While the general assumption   in the report is that there may have been some collusion between those within the finance department and the companies involved.  The question over how contacts are issued stills lingers.

Over the weekend, Planning Minister, Charles Abel said the government needs to closely examine its entire procurement system. 

We can allocate large amounts of money which are targeted at the right area… critical infrastructure… law and order… health… all those things that we want to improve.

“But we find that as that money enters the procurement process through our government agencies… very often we do not get the value for the money.”

Prime Minister O’Neill meanwhile is expected to arrive in Lae on the weekend to attend a gathering of senior police officers. 

As the leader of a government that has adopted a strong anti-corruption position, he is expected to be briefed on the Lae roads   during his stay and to deal with the issue in cabinet later this month.

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