One out of 19 companies followed right procedures

Focus, Normal

OF 24 projects awarded to 19 companies by the Sepik Highway and Bridges Maintenance and Other Infrastructure fund, only one was reported by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to have been correctly awarded.
In its final report to Parliament in March 2006, the PAC said: “This committee could only find one contract that appeared to have been lawfully and properly instigated and carried out. 
“That contract was a project for sealing the Sepik Highway and Wewak town and was given to Shorncliffe (PNG) Limited to a value of K2,524,322.
“Every other contract or project paid for from the trust account did not, upon the evidence received by the committee, comply with law in either its procurement, assessment, oversight, performance (or lack of it), results, payment, accounting or acquittal.
“The committee finds that the Department of Finance, the trustees, provincial government and every other responsible officer or Government arm, agency, department or entity failed in its duty to identify these failures and to rectify them.
“In light of evidence and material which will be set forth later in this report, it is perfectly clear that incompetent conduct existed at the highest level of the Department of Finance and within the provincial government and that responsible officers were prepared to and did ignore requirements of law, their duties and the obligations of trustees to facilitate improper ends.”
Other evidence gathered by the committee showed that the trust also made payments to companies which did not exist and for work that was not performed and for projects which did not comply with procurement procedures.
Much of the payments were paid, so the PAC reported, “in advance of any work actually starting”.
“These payments were made without any query, demur, check, question or requirement for fulfilment of law by the Department of Finance and its officers and, to compound that failure, at the direction or order of the then head of that department,” the PAC concluded.