The National, Thursday, May 26th 2011
By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PAPUA New Guinea’s preparation to host the Pacific Games in 2015 is running well behind schedule despite the government’s guarantee of K300 million to host the games here, Sports Minister Philemon Embel told parliament yesterday.
“We are doing everything within our powers to catch up to ensure preparations are completed.”
Embel said the initial estimate for hosting the games and including building new facilities would be K1.2 billion over four years.
He said there was no budgetary allocation for this year except for K3 million for the PNG team to the Noumea’s SP Games.
The sports minister said this after fielding several queries during question time in parliament from Lae MP Bart Philemon.
Philemon said over 18 months ago, the PNG bid team comprising Dame Carol Kidu, NCD Governor Powes Parkop and himself won the bid after the national government underwrote K300 million (US$ 92.5 million) for the team to win three votes ahead of Tonga.
“When will the government appropriate money for the preparation on the work on infrastructure including the stadium and games village?”
He also asked when the sports minister would present the Pacific Games Authority Bill to take charge of games.
“Eighteen months have gone since we made the bid, do you think we are still on schedule?”
Philemon also asked about the K20 million for the NRL bid and why one sport had been singled out at the cost of all other sports competing at the Olympics.
The Sports minister stated that the Pacific Games Authority Bill had been prepared and brought to cabinet but cabinet gave directions for changes in the draft bill.
Embel said the process was slow saying the lawyers tasked with the bill had not completed making the changes for it to go before cabinet and parliament.
On the NRL bid, Embel insisted the prospect of PNG securing a licence was quite good but there were several factors hindering the bid in relation to law and order issues, sustaining the franchise and infrastructure to satisfy NRL.
“The prospects are good but obstacles are there as well and we are working with NRL on this but we believe a PNG franchise can sustain itself.”
Embel said rugby league was singled out because of an agreement between Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and former Australian PM Kevin Rudd for a PNG team in the NRL.
He added that rugby league held the mantle as the number one sport in the country and involved a large number of men and boys giving it the platform to positively influence a generation.