RESI funds misused, say bishops

National, Normal


THE Catholic bishops meeting in Lae have concluded that millions of kina for the rehabilitation of education institutions (RESI) have been misused by some people for their own use.
This was their conclusion, in the absence of clear answers from the Government and its relevant agencies amid mounting claims of misuse nationwide.
The annual Catholic bishop’s conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands was not impressed with the silence by the Government and its agencies on how the millions of kina meant to fix and develop schools throughout the nation were diverted elsewhere without any clear explanation.
The conference wanted answers to questions that whether it was true RESI fund was now available to politicians for unbudgeted vote buying projects, “rather than the original concept of grants based on priorities, good applications and accountability”.
It wanted to know whether politicians were managing the fund instead of education officials and who would be responsible and accountable for the RESI funds.
The Catholic church now wants the Public Accounts Committee and Ombudsman Commission to investigate and come forth with answers to RESI funds, which has generated high hopes for many rundown schools.
The bishops’ conference, under the chairmanship of Archbishop Francesco Panfilo, said in a statement that “much time, energy and money went into making applications to this fund by schools”.
The Catholic Agency in 2008 was invited to make submissions for maintenance and renovation projects for the church run schools.
“This was a welcome initiative as we faced huge costs to care adequately for our large educational infrastructure,” Archbishop Panfilo said.
He said many schools and their administrations around the nation had high hopes to get over their problems through the RESI funds as some were supposed to get millions of kina.
“The apparent misuse of the fund has resulted in money allocated for some schools reportedly found in another bank account in another province.”