By Adelaide Sirox Kari – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia are under pressure following an Australian Senate investigation into the awarding of a hefty K1 billion contract to a little-known Australian security contractor.
Paladin Solutions, is reportedly being paid K60 million kina every month to provide security at the Manus regional processing centers.
Like other controversial deals, the PNG government has remained tight-lipped on it.
Late last night, Immigrations Minister, Petrus Thomas, released a statement in an attempt to distance the PNG Government from the security deal between the Australian Government and the contractor, Paladin Solutions.
The statement points the finger of blame at the Australian government, saying Australia had full carriage of the procurement and awarding of the K1 billion contract.
The statement from the Immigrations minister also states that assertions that PNG was involved in the security contract are false and misleading.
Today the Deputy Prime Minister Charles Able reaffirmed the Immigration Minister’s comments, stating the PNG Governments has nothing to do with procurement processing of contracts in Australia.
At another news conference today Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato said to allow appropriate authorities to deal with it.
But Australian Media investigations have also exposed links to the Speaker of Parliament Job Pomat, whose family is reported to have also benefited from sub-contracts.
Former Member for Manus Open, Ronny Knight, says the K60million a month Paladin Solutions gets does not reflect what’s on the ground, with many refugees having serious mental health issues and no proper medical services at the centres.
Knight also called on the Speaker to come out and address allegations of his family’s involvement in the Paladin contracts.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister and Member for Moresby North West, Sir Mekere Mourata in media statement, said that what is being revealed in the Paladin scandal indicates that the Australian Government may be exerting improper financial influence on the Government.
“Now, what is being revealed in the Paladin scandal indicates that the Australian Government may be exerting improper financial influence on the Government.”
Earlier this month, a representative of Paladin Solutions, Retired PNGDF Major, Kisokau Powaseu, was arrested after he was accused of misappropriating funds and money laundering belonging to the PNGDF retirement fund.
The Immigrations department has also cancelled visas belonging to a Paladin Director travelling into PNG. In Australia, a senate investigation, as well as pressure from Australian MPs have blown the cover off the Paladin contract. Investigations have revealed that the contract was awarded through a closed tender, meaning there is a strong possibility that the company was the only one bidding.
The vocal MP for Madang Bryan Kramer, also weighed in on the Paladin Case, saying that while Australians will be questioning were there taxpayers money is going, back here in PNG the biggest question in the coming days would be if the current government has any relations to Paladin and received kickbacks from the Paladin contract.