Political tussle threatens K125m ENBP project

National, Normal

The National- Monday, February 7, 2011

 A POLITICAL tussle of major proportions looms in East New Britain which could place at risk a K125 million infrastructure project and a prelude to the shape of things to come in election 2012.

On one side is governor of East New Britain Leo Dion, who has alleged serious impropriety over K125 million raised by Nasfund to fund community infrastructure projects and roads in Kokopo district.

On the other side is Member for Kokopo and Minister for Communications Patrick Tammur, whose initiative it was to secure the money via a recently approved sovereign community infrastructure treasury bill series.

Dion, in a statement released last Thursday, said the  money was neither sanctioned nor approved by the National Executive Council and the Department of Treasury which is charged with administering the series.

Tammur retorted over the weekend that Dion’s accusations were “utter rubbish”.

“I suggest that the governor look and understand the Treasury Bill Act along with the advice and confirm it with the office of the attorney-general.”

He said Dion had to be the only governor in the country who would not welcome funding for a major infrastructure commitment for his province.

“He should be hanging flowers around my neck and carrying me instead of trying to tie a rope around my neck and hang me,” Tammur said.

“This is about service for the people, not our personal politics.”

The money was for financing a massive water project for Kokopo which involves piping water from Warangoi into the electorate.

Kokopo had the dubious distinction of being the only electorate where there was no river or stream flowing through it and, during dry spells, water was extremely hard to get. PNG Water Ltd is operating on bore water to supply Kokopo town.

Dion said the manner in which the financial arrangement was made looked “suspicious and procedures were not followed”.

He said in the statement: “It will be normal protocol that the provincial executive council and the provincial government are informed of the community projects and the details scope and objectives.

“We have continuously requested following the normal processes for government funding to support our deteriorating road infrastructure in the province but, to date, no positive response is coming from the national government.” 

He also called on the Ombudsman Commission and other law enforcement agencies to investigate the deal.”

Tammur said in response that the prime minister had given his nod and the attorney-general’s office had provided advice to the head of state confirming the process and implementation of the series.

He thanked Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare for personally approving the treasury bill and said countries in the region like Malaysia and Singapore were built on superannuation funds and that there was nothing wrong or sinister about engaging Nasfund in the deal.