By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
Money allocated to improve service delivery in the districts continues to be misused. This abuse of public funds will undermine the impact of Papua New Guinea’s national budget.
Director of the PNG Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker, made these comments in reference to the recent sentencing of the Komo-Magarima MP, Francis Potape.
Potape was sentenced yesterday to serve two years and six months in prison for misusing money allocated to the district for service delivery projects, under the District Services Improvement Programme (DSIP).
The DSIP is a critical source of funding for districts. In 2008 the government decided to use this to revive essential government services. Initially each district received K2 million; today it has increased to K10 million. While some districts have been able to use this funding for the benefit of the people, others are still struggling with accountability of these funds.
Mr Barker says a recent report by the Auditor General’s office highlight the extensive abuse of the DSIP funds which is one fo the main funding mechanisim the government is using to restore essential services in the districts.
The Finance Minister’s first order of business for 2015 was a strong warning to government officials and members of parliament, to properly acquit public funds. This call was made last week as the Papua New Guinea prepares to close the government accounts and spending from 2014 and open 2015 accounts.
“While I make this call to all government officials, my first port of call is to the provinces and districts,” Minister Marape said. Over the last two years a total of K3 billion kina have gone out to provinces and districts throughout the country.
Barker and others agree that an increase in social accountability and auditing will ensure that a lot of these funds are properly managed.
The Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council have been in the business of educating Papua New Guineans on the amount of government money that is allocated to each district.
Wallis Yakam, CIMC Executive Officer said the need in the rural areas have been the flow of information on government budgetary process and government spending.
Ms Yakam says they have seen that an informed and educated population have been able to take action in terms of ensuring accountability from politicians and public servants.
Some provinces have been able to set up community monitoring groups to keep an eye on the way public funds are used in their provinces.