Somare clarifies office role

National, Normal

The National , Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THE Independent Public Business Corporation office in Brisbane is not a burden on the taxpayers, Minister for State Enterprises Arthur Somare says.
Somare said this in response to series of questions raised by the opposition whip and shadow minister for Border Development Peter Iwei in parliament last week.
Iwei claimed renting and setting up of an office on level 19 of Brisbane Club Towers on 241 Adelaide St, Brisbane, was a waste of the taxpayers’ money and he asked acting Prime Minister Sam Abal to tell the minister to table a report on the cost of operations and the benefits in operating the offshore office.
But Somare said it was a convenient location for important national government meetings and it was cheaper to have an office in Brisbane.
“I would like to assure the opposition whip and shadow minister for Border Development, Peter Iwei, that the government is able to make significant savings by having an office in Brisbane,” he said.
“The overall cost of maintaining the Brisbane office is about one third the cost of a similar office in Port Moresby where office rentals alone are six times the cost of the Brisbane office.”
Somare said the comparisons were for total costs, including all overheads and salaries.
The Brisbane office had helped the government to make significant savings as a convenient location for PNG LNG project meetings as well as meetings with the Australian and Queensland state governments,” he said.
Somare said the only person in the Brisbane office without a PNG work permit “is a locally employed secretary who runs the day-to-day operations”.
He said the IPBC had used the services of specialist project consultants to assess PNG’s power generation and distribution networks and to plan a fibre optic data superhighway.
“It is much more cost effective and efficient to have some of these meetings in Brisbane,” he said.