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Political Mafia in PNG Stealing Public Funds Meant for Development

Commentary  | Lucas Kiap

We hear leaders preach about the disappearance of billions of kina in development funds every year. The Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc was quoted in the Daily News Papers (January 18, 2013) as saying that “billions of PNG kina have be wasted without any tangible development in the last decade of continued economic growth”. Francis Awesa also said the same thing this year in the newspapers. But both failed to tell the People of Papua New Guinea who the criminals are, how they steal the money under their watch, and what the government is going to do to investigate and prosecute those criminals like other criminals who stole money from the bank are chased and killed. 

If anything is to be said about those public monies, believe it or not we have a political mafia gang network operating in the country siphoning public funds. This political mafia gang operates out of the Department of Finance and Treasury and branches out to other key government departments and institutions throughout the country, which have direct control over the public funds. 

Though this claim remains challengeable and probably unjustifiable, the evidences of such cannot be denied nor taken for granted in a country rich with natural resources yet very poor. The weak performance of many key indicators indicates that the facilitators of corruption continue to assist political elites to launder, store and otherwise profit from unjustly acquired wealth, which often includes public funds. 

For illustration purposes let’s take a look at what happens when public funds are released into the hands of the politicians to carry out projects. When government funds (millions of Kina) are released for projects, politicians often pretend to open trust accounts to be managed by bureaucrats. While the money is in the trust accounts, a network of signatories to the money is established to draw out the money. When this is done and in order, third parties are consulted and asked to submit project proposals or register ghost companies with bogus and fraudulent claims so that payments can be made to them. Eventually the money is transferred and shared between the key players. In most instances no work is done or poor quality work and sometimes unfinished work. 

The key players of this political mafia gang type network include some of our corrupt politicians; government CEOs, secretaries, directors; and their financial controllers. They establish networks with bankers, accountants, lawyers or other specialists to help them generate, move or store their illicit income. The transaction is often enabled by professionals from many fields. With the network strongly established, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and reciprocity; they attempt to provide a legal appearance to corrupt transactions, producing legally enforceable signatories; and they help to ensure that no one is blamed in case of detection.

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