Problem identified with Late Payment of Foreign Mission Funds

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Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Rimbink Pato Image Source: Radio new Zealand

It was the decision to directly fund Foreign Missions from Treasury and the introduction of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) that has caused delays in the payment of Foreign Missions. But the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Rimbink Pato, in a press release stated that these delays should be resolved once they get past the initial implementation of new arrangements. He said that reforms in systems take time to adjust and this is no different.

The decision for Treasury to directly remit funds to Foreign Missions was made by the Prime Minister Peter O’Niell last February to remove the bottlenecks faced by the diplomatic corps.

Adding on to that, serious complications have been seen with the implementation of the IFMS. The problem was that when IFMS was introduced, no appropriation was made by Treasury for around 90 Locally Engaged Staff (LES) at the missions.

At the same time, Overseas Living Allowances (OLA) for PNG based staff were incorrectly committed to the salaries vote and were not available for transfer each quarter as it had been in the past.

“These two factors alone created a shortfall in allocations to missions” stated Pato.
As a consequence, the funds allocated to Missions each quarter were used to cover all operational requirements including LES and OLA for the diplomats.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has advised that the outstanding payments for Papua New Guinea’s foreign missions are currently being resolved.

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary, William Dhim stated in a report in The National Newspaper that K4.5 million that was recently released by the Finance Department as part of the quarterly allocations. This was cleared by the Central Bank and disbursed to all overseas missions.

Pato stated that the delays in the processing of payments have caused inconvenience and have been unfortunate, but progress is being made to prevent a reoccurrence in the future. He stated that he is working on reforms that will see improved operations in area overseas representation.

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