By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
FINANCE Minister James Marape is not aware of a National Executive Council decision to conduct an audit into K20.2 million worth of assets the was managed by now defunct Border Development Authority, he said yesterday.
He said he would provide details on the progress his department had made so far to execute NEC decision 359/18 to recoup assets that were managed by BDA and its subsidiary company PNG Maritime Transport Ltd (MTL). The authority and MTL were abolished through an NEC decision.
According to the Auditor-General’s 2016 report, BDA and MTL had K20.2 million in fixed assets. Seven barges bought from a ship manufacturer in Indonesian for more than K13 million made up 67 per cent of the assets. Those barges are now reported to be abandoned in Port Moresby and Madang.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, when approving that NEC decision, also directed Finance to chair a committee comprising officials from Treasury, National Planning and Monitoring, Personnel Management, Works Transport, PNG Customs, National Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Authority (Naqia), Immigration and State-Solicitor to determine an appropriate strategy to deal with the remaining functions, assets and liabilities of the authority.
Meanwhile, former MTL crew and logistics manager Pierce Lopia said yesterday that the crew of those barges had not been paid for the past two months.
They were waiting for their retrenchment pay and repatriation to their provinces. “I believe that it was a rushed decision and BDA was abolished without proper disposal and retrenchment packages,” Lopia said. “We have not got any pay for the last two months after we were abandoned by the BDA management. We are part of BDA since it was established in 2008. We are the shipping arm of BDA.”
Lopia, who has been with MTL since 2010, said that they were not against the scrapping of BDA because it was a Government decision.
“All we want is to be retrenched properly. What will happen to the millions of kina worth of assets that were bought with public funds? These barges should have been sold off through a tender process before we were retrenched.”
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK