MORE than K2 million in district services improvement programme (DSIP) funds earmarked for the Tewai-Siassi district in Morobe province has gone missing and a commercial bank has been blamed for processing the payments.
The payments were made between May 26 and Sept 23 this year to two Port Moresby-based companies.
Information provided by Tewai-Siassi Member Vincent Michaels to Parliament yesterday revealed that the two companies operated out of the Gerehu suburb and Telikom Rumana respectively.
According to information supplied by Mr Michaels, K200,000 was withdrawn on May 26 without any identification of the payee from the district’s account number 1001373192 held at Bank South Pacific Lae branch.
On Aug 6, cheque number 135 for K900,000 was raised. It was presented to the bank the next day but dishonoured. The same cheque was presented again at a BSP branch in Port Moresby and successfully cashed to Rainco Project Consultants Limited, a Telikom Rumana-based company.
On Sept 8, cheque number 158 of K383,754.73 was made payable in cash to an unknown payee and a day later, cheque number 123 of K750,950 was paid to Paul II Construction Limited and dishonoured. According to Mr Michaels, this dishonoured cheque was again presented on Sept 23 and successfully paid out.
A concerned Deputy Prime Minister yesterday assured Mr Michaels and the people of Tewai-Siassi that immediate action would be taken to ensure that those involved were brought to justice.
He said he would advise Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch to have a meeting with BSP to establish how these payments of substantial amounts of money were made without thorough checks by the bank.
Sir Puka told Parliament that when the guidelines on the use of the funds were drawn up, there was a specific form that was drawn up to ensure that money being paid had been endorsed by respective joint district planning and budget priority committees (JDP&BPC).
He said form 11 would bear the signature of the chairman of the JDP&BPC and the district administrator to show to the bank that the cheque was in order and payment could be released.
“BSP staff at commercial centres throughout the country are aware that no cheques must be cashed without form 11. That’s one important accountability method that the Government included in the management guidelines of the DSIP.
“In the investigations that will have to be done if form 11 was not signed and attached and bank officers released those enormous volumes of funds, then no doubt something is enormously wrong and corruption has now gone to the private sector as well,” Sir Puka said
Mr Michaels told Parliament that the experience was frightening and showed that corruption had now reached the “rural people’s money”.