State to pay bills

National

By MALUM NALU
THE Government is working on a repayment plan to settle outstanding water and electricity bills owed by some of its agencies, according to Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari.
Water, electricity and telecommunication services are provided by its own entities. He urged PNG Power Limited, Eda Ranu, Water PNG and Kumul Telikom not to disconnect supplies immediately to State agencies with arrears.
This follows the recent disconnection of electricity supply by PNG Power Limited to Parliament House, Government House, Central Government Building and the police headquarters in Port Moresby for unpaid bills.
Chief Secretary Issac Lupari said repayment schedules were being worked out with the agencies to have the outstanding bills settled.
Lupari told The National that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had directed him to discuss with the State-owned entities owed money by Government agencies the exact amounts owed.
Acting Clerk to Parliament Kala Aufa said they owed PNG Power about K600,000 for last December and January. He said the Finance department was supposed to pay their bills.
Power to the Central Government Building in Waigani was cut off last November because of a K1.2 million unpaid bill. But the supply was reconnected this week.
Lupari discussed the matter yesterday with the PNG Power acting chief executive officer.
“In the meeting, I asked him not to disconnect any more power to Government agencies,” Lupari said.
“Next week, I will sit down with all chief executive officers and put together a plan to resolve all of these issues.
“We will put in a reduction programme to retire these debts.
“At the same time, we will work out average monthly consumption. We will then put in payment schedule, which everybody is happy with. We (Government) get the service and they (SOEs) are paid.”
Lupari said non-payment of bills by Government agencies was a “legacy issue” that needed to be looked into.
“It’s nothing that just popped up yesterday,” he said.
“This is an ongoing issue. We need to get to the root: Why are Government agencies not paying their bills? Is it because money is not being paid to them? Or is the money being diverted elsewhere?”
He said they must find out why they were not paying their bills.
“We should not just take a cosmetic approach,” he said.

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