7000 ex-servicemen still waiting for their benefits

National, Normal

THE failure by successive governments to efficiently address ex-servicemen entitlements has caused the current delay in payouts to more than 7,000 ex-servicemen or their families.
This was revealed by the Justice Ministry when it addressed more than 100 protesting ex-PNG Defence Force personnel gathered outside Morauta Haus yesterday afternoon while a Central Agencies Coordinating Committee (CACC) on the very issue was being convened inside.
“Justice Ministry has taken over the ex-servicemen issue since 2008 to ensure this is sorted out without further delay and to ensure there is no double or triple dipping by those administering the payments,” Justice Ministry spokesman Peter Aigilo said.
He said  claims had to be thoroughly checked.
As the group was being briefed, it was reiterated that of the more than 7,000 ex-servicemen or their family facing the problem, more than 5,000 of them are  colonial era servicemen who had served under the Australian army from 1966 to 1975.
From the Justice Ministry’s findings, the colonial era group had contributed around K1.5 million as their retirement contributions while the Australian army contributed K2.5 million for
PNG ex-servicemen entitlements.
Justice Ministry findings showed that retirement claims were not properly administered by the State.
The Finance Department only made some payments in 1989.
According to what the ministry found, successive changes in the military hierarchy and administrative differences since the 1980s had caused the delay.
Many ex-servicemen have passed away while waiting for benefits.
The outcome of yesterday’s CACC on the longstanding issue is expected to be announced today by chairman and Chief Secretary to Government Manasupe Zurenuoc.