The National – Monday, January 31, 2011
By JAYNE SAFIHAO
JUSTICE Minister and Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet last Friday blasted provincial assembly members over insufficient budget books forcing the Madang 2011 provincial budget sitting last Friday to be deferred to 10am today.
Knowing the shortfall, provincial administrator Ben Lange, provincial assembly clerk Jerry Maiyer and a recalled former budget
officer tasked to assist in “tidying up the budget”, were seen standing outside the walkways.
According to sources, the delay in the shortfall was due to a faulty photocopier.
Seated already inside the provincial assembly meeting area was Sir Arnold and several local level government presidents when the bell was rung at 3pm.
Looking confused and undecided the trio decided to advise Governor James Gau, to seek approval from the quorum on whether they could pass the budget in principle with copies to be made available later.
Gau walked into the assembly at 3.50pm without a prepared speech and was looking for assistance from Maiyer on three occasions.
When Gau asked for the budget to be passed, Sir Arnold immediately stood up to object, saying that the “small procedural matter” had to be dealt with.
Two LLG presidents who strongly opposed, said the province was kept in suspense for too long and that standing orders had to be suspended to proceed with passing the budget.
Women’s representative Mary Kamang and Almami LLG president Bernard Mollok objected, saying the budget should not be passed in principle unless they knew what the content and its figures were.
Sir Arnold, sensing the problem, vented his anger.
He said that fundamental procedural matters had to be followed and not circumvented.
“I must advise the assembly that if you proceed against my advice it will be unconstitutional.
“How can we possibly debate and move a motion on the budget to be passed if there are not enough copies for people to see and understand,” he asked.
The confusion ended when a motion was moved to have the budget sitting adjourned, for the third time, to this morning at 10am.
Later outside, LLG presidents expressed their anger over the delay saying it was putting a strain on their families.
The 19 presidents, who had been in town since the governor’s election, had also reportedly accumulated accommodation bills for the past three weeks which put an extra strain on the provincial adminstration in its effort to sort out the budget.
The provincial administration was now faced with having to pay K51,600 to a guest house for 14 of the LLG presidents for accommodation from Jan 6 to 26.