By GIDEON KINDIWA
THE full report of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit last year is yet to be completed because the Finance Department has not paid outstanding payments to contractors and suppliers, says Justin Tkatchenko, who was the Apec minister then.
And the tender process for the luxury Maseratis and Bentleys parked at the Port Moresby wharf may have to be repeated because of mishandling, he said.
Tkatchenko said almost K30 million were yet to be paid to service providers, most of whom were local contractors, and the report was put on hold until payments were made.
Despite that, the now Housing and Urban Development Minister said it was time to move on and complete the report and the debts would be included as part of the report.
“Still to date there’s an outstanding that Finance (Department) is still yet to secure. It’s taking too long and we cannot procrastinate on this, we will hand in our final report which includes the outstanding payments and allow Finance to deal with it directly,” he said.
“A period of 12 months was given to the Apec Authority with consent from the State Solicitor to complete the report and we still got until November to complete the report and hand it in, but we will do it before then.”
Tkatchenko had told Parliament after the summit that the full Apec report had been delayed by the Ombudsman Commission.
“We are going through a detailed process to ensure that the full report is given on the floor of parliament on the details of the Apec outcomes and also how the Apec expenditure was expended and the final amount of money that was spent,” he had said.
“This is delayed because Moresby North West MP Sir Mekere Morauta brought to the Ombudsman Commission about the vehicles and other things that were supposedly purchased and all the rest of it.”
Then-prime minister Peter O’Neill had also told parliament then that the authority had budgeted K300millionfor the summit and not K5 billion as Sir Mekere had claimed.
Tkatchenko said the money allocated to pay service providers was budgeted in the 2018 Budget and approved by Parliament but he did not know whether the Finance Department had run short of funding or had other priorities. He said he and former Apec chief executive officer Chris Hawkins had constant meetings with the department in trying to raise the issue but the funds had not been paid yet.
He said completion of the report was only awaiting the Department of Prime Minister, NEC and Finance Department to complete their financial reports respectively.
However, the Apec Authority will submit its reports based on the records it had as the need for closure to Apec was paramount for the authority.
Tkatchenko clarified that there was a process that needed to be followed under the Apec Papua New Guinea 2018 Coordination Authority Act 2014.
“The winding up of the Apec Authority is complete when I have received its report and deemed the final report to be satisfactory. This report will then be tabled in Parliament to repeal the act,” he said.
He said the authority was into its final stages of furnishing the report, which would cover all activities and performance of the authority. The final part of the report is the audited report of financial statements prepared by a first-tier firm of auditors and accountants with an office in Port Moresby and the Auditor-General’s Audit Tender Committee was in the process of appointing an independent auditor.
In regards to the tendering of the luxury Apec vehicles, Tkatchenko said: “It is being mishandled by the Department of Finance.
“The tenders were issued wrongly. Instead of putting it out as a tender with a reserved price it was put out as an expression of interest. The whole objective of recouping the funds that we started from day one was not achieved, and so we have to go through that process again.”
Tkatchenko said the department wrongly issued the tenders as expressions of interest and so many buyers were interested but their offers were low, which meant the funds that had been spent would not be recovered.
He also clarified that according to Finance, one Maserati and one Bentley had been sold and the rest were still being prepared for sale.
Meanwhile, Finance secretary Dr Ken Ngangan told The National last night that he would have to confirm with the department before explaining the tender process of the vehicles.
He said it was a sensitive matter and he wanted the public to know what was really happening because the Apec Authority kept on saying different things, the Apec Minister a different thing and so he would come back with confirmed details today.
“The Apec Authority was in charge of running the event and Finance was in charge of paying the funds, but we have run out of money to fully cover the costs,” Ngangan said.
“But I will raise this with the Budget Management Committee and we will bring it to the Treasury (Department) for them to allocate funds to pay the service providers.”
By GIDEON KINDIWA