ABG’s K5mil cheque did not bounce, says O’Neill

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PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says there are still challenges in maintaining law and order in dealing with sensitive issues on Bougainville.
He said recent media reports about a K5 million cheque to the Autonomous Bougainville Government from the national government bouncing was false.
“Bougainville still continues to face challenges and paying outstanding bills to service providers is another one of those challenges,” he said.
“What I understand is that people who are owed money by the ABG are causing destruction at the Buka Airport.”
Deputy Opposition leader and South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu said service providers who were owed K15 million from the ABG had twice blocked the airport on Buka to prevent Air Niugini planes from landing.
Said O’Neill: “Firstly, it is wrong to go out and try to hold public infrastructures at ransom, especially when you have disputes.
“When you have services that are being provided to the provincial government and they are not able to settle it, then there are avenues to proceed with in discussions, including talking to the Government and the leaders of ABG.
“But to stop airport and holding up services and threatening is one thing that this country has to learn to do away with. You are just disrupting services to the majority of the people. Recent reports that K5 million we gave to them bounced back are misleading information.”
O’Neill said they were aware of the service providers’ claim of K15 million. “I understand that the ABG finance minister last week had discussions with Treasury officers in Waigani regarding the K15 million and I will get back to you (Masiu) regarding the outcome of their discussions.”

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