K358mil for Porgera missing

National, Normal


MORE than K358 million in equity payments and millions more in Special Support Grants (SSG), MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) funds, land royalty and equity payments for Porgera landowners have not been accounted for the last 18 years, it was alleged yesterday.
Lagaip-Porgera MP Philip Kikala, his predecessor Opis Papo, former Porgera Development Authority (PDA) deputy chairman Samson Kai and special mining lease landowner William Gaupe alleged that there had been gross abuse and misuse of funds by the authority.
Mr Kikala, who is the Vice-Minister for National Planning & Monitoring, and the others claimed that they had documents which showed that since the gold mine started operations in 1990, hundreds of millions of kina were paid to the PDA for various projects.
They told a press conference in Port Moresby that under a mining agreement signed between the miner, the landowners and the Government, PDA was only to act as the custodian of all MoU funds, equity, royalty payments and SSGs, for the people of Porgera and Paiyala.
They said the money was intended for projects “but there is nothing on the ground” to show.
Mr Papo said socio-economic indicators were poor and the people’s living standards had not changed despite the millions paid to PDA each year.
They said as chairman of the PDA, Nixon Magape, should explain to the people what had happened to the funds.
Mr Papo said the Auditor-General’s Office was called to investigate allegations of mismanagement but the PDA took a court order to stop it.
Mr Kikala also urged the Department of Finance and Treasury not to release any outstanding SGG or MoU funds to the PDA until the authority explained the use of K20.4 million it received  for 2007 and the preceding years.
He said he was informed that landowner groups in Porgera were collecting signatures for a petition to submit to the Government to look into the PDA management.
“With the issues going on, no funds should be released, otherwise the Government would be seen to be sponsoring an all-out tribal warfare in the district,” he said.
He added the authorities concerned should also consider suspending the PDA board.
Mr Magape could not be contacted for comments.