Only one legal contract in six-year period

Focus, Normal

THE Public Accounts Committee found only a single contract that appeared to have been lawfully and properly instigated and carried out in the entire six-year period that the Sepik Highway and Bridges Maintenance and Other Infrastructure Trust was in existence.
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 the law in either its procurement, assessment, oversight, performance (or lack of it), results, payment, accounting or acquittal,” the committee reported to Parliament.
“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.”
These failures led the committee to conclude “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”. 
Proper process would require the calling of public tenders, to evaluate such tenders before awarding contracts.
This appeared never to have been undertaken.
In addition, the committee found that there had been expenditures from the trust account on matters which did not form any part of Sepik infrastructure “even taking that term at its widest definition”.
Half a million kina, for instance, was paid for “financial assistance”.


*Next week: Details of the contracts