K750m found

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By MARK HAIHUIE
THE Government has so far identified about K750 million sitting in the bank accounts of its agencies which is the (non-tax) revenue they had generated over the years, Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele says.
As required under the new Public Money Management Regularisation Act, the Government is allowed to collect 90 per cent of such revenue earned by its agencies and be put into its Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Vele told The National yesterday that the figure would most likely increase as the implementation of the legislation continued.
He said the funds were outside operational costs of statuary authorities.
“What the PMMR is aiming to do is to bring in all the excess cash held by statutory authorities in commercial bank accounts and to bring them under the government’s process and the umbrella of the national budget,” Vele said.
“Some of the organisations have tens of millions of Kina and in some cases hundreds of millions just sitting in the bank. This is not about the operational money but the extra money held in several accounts outside of the entities’ primary accounts.
“There’s around K750 million of free cash identified so far. And we are still going through the process of identifying those funds and the accounts they are in. The number will increase as we (continue to) carry out this exercise.”
The legislation, which so far has drawn the ire of at least three State-owned enterprises because it was disrupting their operations, was passed by Parliament last year.
Vele explained that the initiative was prompted by the challenging economic climate.
“When you have good times, people tend to be lax about certain things. But when times are tough, we have to change the way we do business,” he said.
“This is a worldwide phenomenon. It’s not only us but other governments and business as well. So part of the focus now has been on how we make money (as opposed to) how much we spend.
“Over the past three to four years, we have been focusing on how much we are making and new ways we can increase that. One of the ways we can do that is soaking up all of the loose change that is out there and making sure that it is put to use.”
Vele said State agencies which collected money on behalf of the government included the National Fisheries Authority, PNG Forest Authority, Immigration and the National Information and Communication Technology Authority.
“It has taken us a while to find the money. And it has also taken us a while to work out what are the best mechanisms to get the money,” he said.
He said Treasury was looking at ways to access the funds in commercial banks “without bringing unintended adverse consequences to the financial markets”.

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