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$200 million in PNG LNG grants misused

MORE than K500 million for Infrastructure Development Grants (IDG) and High Impact Infrastructure Projects (HIIP) meant for the LNG project areas has been misappropriated and abused.
The government over the years has released over K360 million in IDGs and K190 million for HIIPs, but this has not translated into infrastructure on the ground.
The IDGs and HIIP funds were intended to fund development projects in the areas affected by the PNG LNG project, but there is hardly anything to show for this on the ground.
This has prompted the O’Neill -Dion Government to put in place a new process on how Infrastructure Development Grants (IDG) and High Impact Infrastructure Projects (HIIP) from the PNG LNG project will be managed. 
Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel revealed this to the media last Friday, saying as part of the decision the Government has agreed to allocate 5 per cent of the IDGs towards better resourcing the provincial works units and bringing in resource developers to assist with scoping and implementation of projects, and procurement will occur as per the Public Finance (Management) Act.
“Land owner companies and joint ventures will be given priority through the contracting process subject to their capacity,” Mr Abel said.
“Engaging strategic partners to assist with implementation is a critical activity of the government and it is part of a boarder strategy around improving implementation and procurement.”
He also announced that the Department of National Planning and Monitoring would commence an audit of the expenditure of previous IDG and HIIP fundings.
Mr Abel said, “The government has raised concerns that we have released over K360 million in IDGs and K190 for HIIPs, but this has not translated into infrastructure on the ground. 
“That is why we are strengthening the process for accessing these funds.”
He stated that the process has already been moved out of Waigani and down to the beneficiaries in the provinces in order to increase transparency.
“And with five percent going to the provincial works units, it will build their capacity to work with the resource developers through a clearer process that will achieve results,” the Minister said.
Komo Magarima MP Francis Potape, whose electorate is where most of the projects are located, applauded the government’s move and said it was about time the government intervened.
He said the previous government where he was a Minister did not come up with a clear process, and that has resulted in millions of kina ending up in wrong hands.
“If you go to my electorate you will see light coming out of the project camps while the surrounding areas are in total darkness because funds meant for these have been stolen and misappropriated by landowners who may have conspired with government ministers and officers in Waigani,” Mr Potape said.
He also alleged that one or three families have been paid K40 million while the majority are suffering and he has called on the government to conduct an investigation into these funds.
Mr Abel also announced that the Government has agreed to a request from the governors of Southern Highlands and Hela provinces for their IDG funds to initially go towards the sealing of the Mendi to Komo road which will bring wider benefits.

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