By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PAPUA New Guinea will spend more than K8 million to send a 30-member delegation to the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a consultancy recruitment drive.
Another K3.2 million has been approved by Cabinet to abolish the Office of Climate Change and Environment Sustainability (OCCES) and pay out its 70 staff.
The National has been reliably informed that the bulk of these monies were not budgeted for.
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is leading the delegation, which leaves today, but surprisingly, the deputy leader is climate change ambassador Kevin Conrad, not Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal or Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan, who are the only two Cabinet ministers on the trip.
It is understood that the K8 million Copenhagen budget has been split into two components – K3 million in expenses for the touring party and associated costs and K5 million to lure international consultants to advise PNG on its options in relation to climate change issues.
Sources said each member of the delegation would be paid US$500 (about K1,400) a day during their one-week stay.
The delegation leaves on commercial flights, contrary to indications that Air Niugini’s newly-acquired Falcon jet would be used for the trip.
The National learned last night that the NEC approved the K8 million expenditure in its decision No: 178/2009, and directed Treasury secretary Simon Tosali “to find the money”.
The NEC also directed the Minister for Finance and Treasury to waive the procurement process for the engagement of internal and international consultants to undertake analysis and a subsequent report on PNG’s national climate change plan.
The Copenhagen delegation includes officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, OCCES, Department of Environment and Conservation, scientists, economists and internal consultants.
The National understands the NEC’s direction that the Climate Change Policy be concluded before the Copenhagen meeting has not been met, and the PNG delegation is travelling without firm policy guidelines.
It is believed the Government’s intention was to go to Copenhagen with a “very positive attitude towards the reduction of CO2 emissions and to embrace carbon trading under the new REDD agenda with the Coalition of Rainforest Nations”.