Funding probed

Main Stories, National
Source:
The National,Friday June 10th, 2016

 By GYNNIE KERO
THE Government will investigate how students of the University of Papua New Guinea had been paying for travel costs and other expenses during their recent uprising in Port Moresby.
This is apart from the inquiry announced by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Parliament on Wednesday to determine “the underlying reasons for continued student unrest promoted by individuals outside the student body”.
Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari yesterday said the investigation would find out where the students were receiving funding from to move around in vehicles and buy airline tickets to travel to centres outside Port Moresby.
Lupari, in a meeting with UPNG vice-chancellor Prof Albert Mellam yesterday, was told that the university had not released any further funding to the Students Representative Council. The only money it released was the K6,000 which was used to organise their petitions to the Government.
Lupari said: “We are told that funds at the university’s SRC account has not been touched. Only K6,000 was used at the initial stage to organise their petitions. After that, there has been no funds released by the university to the SRC.”
He said students had been travelling out of Port Moresby to conduct awareness for people in the districts.
“Somebody is paying for their airline tickets – that’s why they are flying around,” he said.
“Somebody is paying for the cars that they are running around in. Somebody is paying for their entire activities.”
He said cabinet also wanted an inquiry set up “into the whole thing that happened, how it unfolded”.
“The inquiry will be looking at all aspects of the event, conduct of students and administrations of all universities, conduct of police, conduct of leaders, conduct of the media as well also we will be looking at whose paying for who,” he said.
He said the Government had information that the students had received funding from an outside source.
“We are told that outside elements were involved at the university yesterday (Wednesday) – not necessarily students. Police will investigate how they were involved,” he said.
The National tried to get a comment last night from the Students Representative Council.
O’Neill said in Parliament the inquiry would also seek to uncover the source of external funding that had underwritten student protests in recent weeks.
The UPNG students had been in the past five weeks boycotting classes, demanding that O’Neill step aside to allow police to investigate corruption allegation against him.