By Quinton Alomp – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The financial crisis in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has hit foreign missions resulting in staff not being paid for the past two fortnights.
EMTV News has learned that at least one overseas mission (PNG Embassies and/or High Commissions) is now resorting to collecting visa fees from people travelling into PNG to pay their fortnightly salaries, operational funds and office rentals.
The issue has been kept silent by the PNG government for over a month until recently, with the opposition learning of the issue and raising their concerns.
Opposition Leader, Sam Basil, said “this is a direct result of the foreign reserve that is fast depleting.”
One government source says the Department of Foreign Affairs were not aware, at an official level, of the late remittance of funds to PNG foreign missions.
EMTV contacted foreign affairs but is yet to receive an official response on the issue.
We did, however, manage to confirm with at least one PNG foreign mission that officials there had not been paid for the past two fortnights.
“Em tripla shame tru lo eye bilong ol narapela kantri. Kantri bilong yumi gat planti resource, money tasol yumi nonap lukutim ol embassy staff bilong yumi na ol kisim fee bilong visa na usim lo operation cost em very bad,” the opposition leader said.
(It’s a very big shame to other countries. Our country has plenty of resources and money but we cannot look after our embassy staff and they are using visa fees to operate is very bad).
The opposition leader demanded Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato, to explain on behalf of the government the reasons why PNG foreign mission staffe are not being paid – leading into the third fortnight next week.
“He must come out clear, now I want him to be honest.
“They have been telling lies to us about the state of the economy. Now the economic results are telling us that they are lying,” Basil said.
Earlier this year, government employees from various agencies in the country missed also their pay packages for a fortnight.
This brought to light the troubled state of the economy.
But Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, publicly said “the country is not broke.”
Deputy Opposition Leader, Mark Maipakai, argued that “you cannot tell lies on the economic issues, the country is broke.”
The Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) released its Quarterly Economic Bulletin for December 2015, with the bulletin showing that the global economic recovery has weakened further and PNG needs to rearrange its import and export commodities to prevent further loss.
The economy continues to drop and the opposition argues that it will not be favourable to close down PNG Embassies and High Commissions.