Dept queries drought funds

The National, Thursday July 7th, 2016

The Department of Implementation and Rural Development (DIRD) is concerned over the use of K2 million by districts to counter the effects of  the drought last year.
First assistant secretary Aihi Vaki told The National that they were not aware of any policy on a government directive instructing districts to use K2 million of their respective district services improvement programme (DSIP) component for drought relief purposes.
He said there were no acquittals from the districts yet.
Vaki said they had been in the dark since Finance Minister James Marape made the announcement last year.
“We have been receiving DSIP reports from districts but there is nothing specifying the use of the K2 million for drought purposes. If there was anything on the drought, it would reflect in the acquittals.” he said.
“We are concerned because these are public funds. We want to see the reports to know if the funds were applied accordingly and if food rations were distributed equally to affected areas.”
Vaki said the acquittals would also indicate whether the drought situation had eased in affected communities because some districts may have exhausted the K2 million and were using their DSIP funds.
He warned districts which failed to submit reports that they could be referred to the Ombudsman Commission and the fraud squad for investigation.
“We want the districts to report facts because funds are not kept in Waigani anymore, they are going straight to the districts,” he said.