July 15, 2019

45 vehicles used during APEC in PNG still missing

 The Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government is looking for 45 vehicles used during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in November which have not been returned to the Finance Department.


Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan said some of the missing vehicles could still be with government departments which were using them then. All departments had been instructed early this year to return all the vehicles.

“In the disposal process we will be asking for all those assets to be returned to the (Port Moresby) wharf or to the Finance department so we can dispose of them cleanly,” he said.

Of the 502 new vehicles acquired for the international event in Port Moresby, 166 were donated and 336 bought by the Government.

“I would like to give confidence to the general public that all assets purchased during Apec will be publicly and transparently disposed of,” Dr Ngangan said.

Last Friday, 35 donated vehicles including fire trucks and ambulances were handed over to authorities including the Fire Service, provincial health authorities and the St John Ambulance.

There are 131 donated vehicles remaining.

“It has taken us quite a while to reach this stage in the disposal of the Apec assets,” he said.

“Basically we wanted to the do this correctly following the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act, National Procurement Act, the clearance by the State Solicitor and the Ombudsman Commission following due process.

“Having gained National Executive Council concurrence on those processes, we have now come to the stage where we feel that we have met those processes and we are able to start disposing the assets.” So far, two of the 40 Maserati vehicles have been sold with 38 remaining.

Of the two Bentley vehicles, one has been sold and the other given to Government House.

Ngangan said for the benefit of public and state institutions that have written in requesting for APEC assets, the 131 donated vehicles will be disposed of this week.

“The next stage we will be looking at state purchases of 336 vehicles.

“We will start going through that. We have the full details of the vehicles, the cost, and the state of those vehicles.”

Meanwhile, the Finance Department will re-conduct the auction of the Bentley and Maserati vehicles used for the APEC Leaders’ Summit last November.

Minister Charles Abel said Cabinet had instructed the department to re-conduct the auction here and abroad so that they could be disposed of and the State to benefit from the revenue. The reserve price for a Maserati is K400,000 (US$118,000) (minimum) and Bentley K800,000 (US$236,000) (minimum).

Abel told The National that the first tender exercise was conducted but there was no minimum reserve price set.

“People thought you can just offer anything for the vehicles so we received many bids well below the value of those vehicles – K50,000 (US$14,775), K60,000 (US$17,730) bids,” he said.

“We want to make sure that the bid is placed on some of the international auction sites and people overseas, fleet owners and companies could make a bid.”

He said local and international bidders should have the opportunity to buy the assets.

“The priority is to sell them. In the absence of that, the State will look after them and utilise them for special purposes when the State holds events,” Abel said.

He said the APEC report was in the hands of the Auditor-General.

“We just want that process expedited and we will offer him every support to ensure that happens,” he said. “We want that to come out as soon as possible as significant amounts of money were spent some of the assets are quite visible and it was a massive undertaking.

“We always understood there was a budget and we stuck to that but the details of that needs to be made public. We will try our best to make it in the next session of parliament,” he said.

Abel, said the Government is doing its best to settle the outstanding K20 million (US$5.9 million) owed to APEC service-providers.

Abel said they had the list of creditors who would be paid once the payment vetting process was completed.

“We are now going through most of the ones that are relatively clear. They have been paid but where there are questions, the State has to make sure that State money goes to valid claims,” he said.

“We don’t have money lying around.

“We are having to prioritise which unfortunately leads to rationing and there has to be delays in certain things.

“We have to ensure the tuition fee-free fund is paid, ensure money is there for medical procurement, our wages are paid and loan repayments are paid.”

Abel said while the Government was focusing on paying bills, it must also focus on collecting revenue.

“Each and every item in the revenue side of budget is collectable. There is no excuse,” he said.

“People must pay their dividends and the State will be able to fund its obligations.

“We did a lot of catch-up exercises on Nambawan Super payments, councillors’ allowances.

“We managed to pay functional grants to provincial governments last year.

“It was the first time in long time,” he said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS/ONEPNG

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