Council presidents still await pay

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 12th February, 2013

COUNCIL presidents in Hela and Southern Highlands are still waiting for their allowances and other entitlements that have not been paid since 2009.
They were reinstated as members of the provincial assembly by the National Court in June 2010.
Ailo Arapa, council president of the Avi-Pori local level government in Hela, said that since they were reinstated, the 39 presidents have not been paid their sitting allowances, transport, accommodation and other entitlements.
He said they had carried out their duties and responsibilities for this long at their own costs.
Arapa said the 13 council presidents in Hela were confused as to who would pay their outstanding allowances and entitlements after the province was split from the Southern Highlands.
“We supported the budget, our outstanding allowances and entitlements are included but when the money is released it disappears at the provincial level,” he said.
Arapa said the Hela council presidents had spent their own money and resources to attend assembly meetings in Mendi and need to be reimbursed.
“When we separated from Southern Highlands, Hela provincial assembly held five meetings in Mendi and another three in Tari but again our allowances were not paid,” he said.
Arapa said the councilors sent many letters to the two provincial governments but have not received any responses.
“On behalf of the council presidents, I want to call on governors Anderson Agiru and William Powi to seriously look into matter and address the issue once and for all,” he said.
He said the presidents were elected by the councillors and they must be respected.
“We are not happy when others use us like a rubber stamp for their own benefits, especially when it comes to handing down of the provincial budget or making other important decisions for the provinces.”
He said the two provincial governments owed them money and they wanted payments before going to the council elections.