The National, Monday 21st November 2011
By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PAPUA New Guinea Defence Force ex-servicemen have given the government until the beginning of next month to advise on their claims.
Spokesman and former army major Endy Kiak said Dec 8 was the deadline for the government to clear the air on whether payments “will be forthcoming”.
He said this after their second meeting with the Public Employees Association and PNG Trade Union Congress president Michael Malabag last Friday.
He thanked Malabag for coming on board on behalf of the 1360 ex-servicemen who were retrenched in the defence force downsizing agreement between the PNG and Australian governments in 2001.
The ex-servicemen produced documents to support their claims to Malabag, who has promised to bring it up with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Malabag said in 2001, a National Executive Council decision No.213/2001 had approved the application of redundancy, retrenchment and retirement policy when Sir Mekere Morauta was prime minister. That paved the way for the retrenchment of 1360 servicemen.
Malabag said since then, 82 ex-servicemen had died without getting their entitlements.
He said there were nine categories of payments for retrenched servicemen, which were MILON (money in lieu of notice), MILOL (money in lieu of leave), MILOF (money in lieu of furlough), ex-gratia, re-settlement allowance, repatriation expense, housing allowance, hardship allowance and contract gratuity.
“In all fairness, seven components have been paid except for housing and hardship allowance, which is the issue of contention between the affected ex-servicemen and the government through its agents,” Malabag aid.
He said the seven components were paid by the Australian government and the PNG government, on its part, was responsible for the remaining components including housing, hardship and goodwill allowances.
“It appears that bureaucrats are messing around with ex-servicemen’s lives by not giving the correct information to cabinet and the prime minister.
“We are talking about former combat trained soldiers who have served this nation with distinction.”