The National, Thursday October 31st, 2013
THE overseas trip by the PNG Power Ltd board and management was approved by State Enterprises Minister Ben Micah, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.
And he plans to find out why it was necessary to send such a large entourage overseas at the expense of the people. He said it was a question “that needs to be answered”.
“We’ll get to the bottom of it,” O’Neill said.
He said Micah had approved the trip by the company board and management to Israel, Iceland and rugby league World Cup in England.
He was commenting on a travel ban placed on certain department heads earlier this year after they had racked up bills running into millions of kina, and how the PNG Power board and management were bending the rules.
Micah, PNG Power chief executive John Tangit and board chairman Joshua Bakiri are likely to face O’Neill’s wrath when they return from England.
The PNG Power entourage followed O’Neill to Israel recently despite not being part of the official delegation. It then went on to Iceland to sign an agreement on geothermal power (at which Micah was present).
Last Friday, O’Neill summoned Tangit to his office but was told he was overseas again. One of Tangit’s deputies came in his place.
“You need to be on the ground,” he said.
“We’ve got challenges here. You can’t be travelling all around the world just because you like to travel.
“I think we need to focus on travel arrangements that are absolutely needed for the country, and not travel arrangements that are unnecessary.
“We can’t address big issues when we can’t attend to small ones on the ground.”
Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko also led a big delegation to the World Cup comprising politicians, staff and family members. The bill is also expected to run into millions of kina.