By JAMES APA GUMUNO
THE Western Highlands provincial administration is holding back funds totalling K60,000 belonging to two former members of the provincial assembly who have refused to return two Government vehicles.
The two leaders, Nathan Wantape and William Maki, allegedly used the provincial government vehicles for private use and refused to return the vehicles when asked by Governor Tom Olga’s administration in 2008 after the national election.
The provincial administration is holding two final entitlement cheques belonging to the two leaders and are demanding that the vehicles be returned.
Melpa Properties general manager Wai Kitts said the two vehicles were among 13 bought by the company through a bank loan of K1.1 million with Bank South Pacific in 2006 under former governor Paias Wingti’s regime.
“At that time, Melpa Properties leased out the vehicles to the provincial government under a condition agreed by both parties that the provincial government would help Melpa Properties repay the loan but this did not happen after the last national election.
“Many vehicles bought through the loan were recovered except the two,” he said.
He said the provincial government or Melpa Properties, a business arm of the provincial government, did not own the vehicles because the bank loan was still outstanding at more than K100,000.
Appointed member in the provincial assembly and chairman of provincial Works and Transport department, Dickson Aii, called on the two leaders to return the vehicles.
“As soon as they return the vehicles, they can pick up their cheques,’’ Mr Aii said.
Mr Aii, who was a member of the last Government, said the provincial executive council decided in 2008 to recover all the Government properties in the possession of former provincial assembly members.