PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare’s proposed constitutional amendment to increase the number of ministers from the current 28 to 33 is an attempt to garner support to ensure his scandal-plagued Government remains in power, Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta said yesterday.
Sir Mekere urged concerned citizens to challenge Sir Michael to explain how the nation would benefit from extra ministries that would cost the nation’s taxpayers millions of kina.
He said five additional ministers would cost PNG taxpayers a minimum of K3 million in salaries, allowances and staff costs.
“This excludes office rent and office support costs, and the support that departments and agencies inevitably end up providing to ministers,” Sir Mekere said.
“Sir Michael is looking for numbers, not ministers.
“He knows that when the constitutional reference on the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates is handed down, his chance of survival will be reduced.
“This is a move by a desperate man to cling onto power through an ill-conceived constitutional change,” the Opposition leader said.
He said the timing of the announcement was revealing because “it confirms the point that this is a move purely to anchor Sir Michael in power”.
“The people of Papua New Guinea do not need more ministers. The people need more and better quality schools, health centres, affordable and reliable transport and improved telecommunication services. That is what Sir Michael should be providing, not burdening the public with the cost of more ministers.
“Is the Prime Minister blind?
“Is he so insensitive and intoxicated with power that he cannot see what the nation and people need?” Sir Mekere asked.
“PNG does not need a K130 million executive Falcon jet for exclusive use by the Prime Minister.
“We need that K130 million to repair classrooms, teachers’ houses, health centres and staff housing, training for teachers and health officers, repair and buy new life-saving medical equipment as well as repairing fast-deteriorating inter and intra provincial roads.
“The Falcon jet is already being used as a mini bus.
“How many millions will the Government spend to operate and maintain the mini bus?” Sir Mekere asked.