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Depts told to fix utility bill issues

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By HELEN TARAWA
Government departments have been directed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, pictured, to put in place a sustainable payment system to address legacy issues.
Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari told The National that the prime minister had directed key departmental heads, including Finance and Treasury, to address the issues of utility bills.
“We need to do proper due diligence and put in place a payment system which will put a stop to this problem,” he said.
“That’s what the prime minister has directed us to do.
“We are doing everything possible to implement his directive.
“These are legacy issues which did not fall out from the sky yesterday.”
Last month, several government agencies, including the Government House and Parliament House, experienced power cuts due to non-payment of bills.
Lupari said the Government audit team had met with all the State-owned entities (SOEs).
He said their report would be discussed on Tuesday and they would meet the next day  with all of the chief executive officers of SOEs to formalise a debt-reduction plan, payment and central payment system.
“Once a sustainable payment arrangement is agreed by all stakeholders, the prime minister and Cabinet will be advised,” Lupari said.
PNG Power chairman Andrew Ogil said the idea to have all the government departments’ utility bills paid from a centralised fund was good news.
“That’s a good thing for us because we will be given our guaranteed monthly bills,” the chairman said.
“We need it because it’s very hard if you don’t pay your bills.
“Every month, the Government should be paying our utility bills, it’s recurrent so there should be no excuses.”

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