By BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has established that commissioners of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and several staff received significant “extra” payments of salary and entitlements running into “millions of kina” and there is sufficient evidence for investigations into the commission.
Government insiders said the figures actually run into “millions of kina”, and according to a PAC document “”there is prima facie evidence of possible breaches of law by Commissioners, officers and staff of the commission sufficient to warrant referral for further investigations”.
At this stage, no figures were disclosed because “there is evident confusion as to the true entitlements of Constitutional office holders”.
But according to the document, an executive summary of PAC findings, obtained by The National, the PSC “admits the fact of all of the payments, but challenges the amount of those over payments”.
Despite the challenge and confusion the PAC “finds that commissioners of the Public Service Commission accepted large overpayments with no query or demur”.
The PAC also found that there were significant failures of management, command control, accountability and record keeping within the PSC.
The PAC considered this a reckless indifference and said commissioners “should be relieved of their positions” and the matters be urgently addressed by the Government.
PAC investigations into the PSC stem from a report from the Auditor-General dating back to Dec 28, 2004, and several amended reports.
Although the PAC criticised the quality of the Auditor-General’s original report, it endorsed its findings and related amendments.
On that, the PAC resolved that its findings be presented to Parliament as per the Public Finances (Management) Act and Permanent Committees Act.
For a start, the PAC advocates for an urgent review into the receipts of salary and allowances of all commissioners and other Constitutional office holders.
It also resolved that it would approve and direct the findings of the Auditor-General’s office report to the Ombudsman, the Public Prosecutor, the Solicitor General, the Police and the Department of Personnel Management.
Furthermore, that the salaries and remuneration commission urgently consider the content of the Auditor-General’s report and clarify the true entitlements of Constitutional office holders in order that overpayments and other abuses may be identified and stopped.
The Government source said such issues of overpayment of salaries and entitlements are a protracted issue and a chronic problem in the public service that needs to addressed.
“And this is uncalled for, especially from the premiere public service body in Papua New Guinea,” the source said, adding “for how long can we allow such abuse of funds to continue when the majority of people in rural areas, and taxpayers are deprived of essential services”.
PAC member Sam Basil, when commenting on these findings, stressed that the Government must provide relevant support to ensure recommendations presented are implemented and achieve results.