The National, Thursday October 24th, 2013
By CLEMENT KAUPA
THE announcements by Treasurer Don Polye, Finance Minister James Marape and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that the K100 million for Lae city roads rehabilitation is safe and waiting in a special trust account is welcome news.
Finally there is headway into the diatribe between the Tutumang and Waigani over the existence of the funds now that the highest political and financial authorities in the land have spoken.
Polye confirmed that the amount was released and is parked in a trust account for its intended purpose.
The technical explanation too that adequate time is required to do standard specifications for concrete pavement before progressing into the tendering stage is understandable.
O’Neill had demanded nothing but the highest quality roads for Lae city when he announced his government’s commitment to allocate the K100 million earlier this year.
He stood by it again on Tuesday when he announced that the National Executive Council would have deliberated on tender bids furnished by the Central Supply Tenders Board yesterday.
But any hope of a respite to be derived from these clarifications for Works and Implementation Minister Francis Awesa is contrived.
Awesa’s impromptu announcement this week that K12 million is gone had copped another round of flak from concerned parties in Lae.
If what he reportedly stated about two contractors embarked on contracts is accurate, then the host government and administration are back out in the cold and dark in the new Lae roads rehabilitation era.
The Lae city council is on the outside as well, according to Lord Mayor Koim Trilu’s outburst in the media yesterday.
The chief government antagonist in the Lae road funding fiasco Morobe Governor Kelly Naru is asking again to know what, how and where the stated K12 million out of the K100 million went.
“To say it went to pay for road works already covered under the former K140 million is pure hogwash,” Naru fired back.
“Identify the contractors and specify the road sections that the K12 million was allegedly expended on.”
Otherwise, he said Awesa was inviting further public scrutiny and speculation on the legitimacy of these alleged contracts and future handling of the remaining K88 million.
“It already looks sinisterly like the previous regime that chewed up K140 million without coughing up tangible results,” Naru said.
According to him, former fund manager NME International had operated to the exclusivity of every other stakeholder in Morobe and there is a high likelihood of a repeat here.