Former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta said today that he agreed with the call by Minister Peter O’Neill for the acting Prime Minister to set up immediately a commission of inquiry to investigate the K1.9 billion allegedly misappropriated this year from the development budget, including the K10 million handed out to Eremas Wartoto.
“In fact, the terms of reference of such a commission of inquiry should reach back to cover previous years and all trust fund monies, as allegations of similar abuse have been made many times before,” he said.
“Papua New Guineans are simply fed up.
“Every day new revelations of theft and abuse are spelled out in the newspapers.
“And nothing happens.
“In the last eight years the Somare government through inaction and indifference has allowed corruption to overwhelm the public sector and, in turn, inflict the private sector.
“There is now truly systemic corruption practised by virtually everyone in the government along with their associates.
“I urge the acting Prime Minister to show leadership, leadership that is different from Somare, leadership that listens to the people and takes action.
“This is Abal’s turn to make a mark if he wants to show people that he can run the nation differently from Somare.
“He will get support if he acts on behalf of the people.
“Papua New Guineans cannot take it anymore.
“We are all just sick in the stomach hearing and seeing what is going on.
“ And the most annoying thing is that no action is taken.
“Instead, thieves are rewarded.”
Sir Mekere said: “Minister Tiensten says that all the expenditure is in order.
“We need the details, not just his words.
“For instance, the K10 million that he allegedly handed out to Mr Wartoto to buy aeroplanes.
“Where is this in the 2011 Budget?
“We did not hear anything about it last November when the budget was presented to Parliament.
“And what is the development rationale to give subsidy to this company, and not others?
“How was this one selected?
“What are the criteria?
“Can he spell it out so that other Papua New Guinean businesses can apply for these free government subsidies?
“Can Paul Tiensten and Arthur Somare tell us why the Government should hand out millions to a private airline, when Arthur is the lord and master of Air Niugini, which is struggling to provide domestic services.
“I am sure every member of the travelling public has experienced delays or had flights cancelled when travelling on Air Niugini.
“Why not give the K10 million to Air Niugini for new aircraft?
“Many stories abound that certain influential members of the Kitchen Cabinet are silent beneficial owners of Travel Air, and of other businesses which have benefitted from these indiscriminate hand-outs from trust funds and the development budget, which is under the control not of Cabinet as in the National Executive Council, but of the Kitchen Cabinet.
“Only a commission of inquiry has the legal power to dig out and reveal the truth.
“Unfortunately, despite the good honest work of many police officers, the tentacles of the Kitchen Cabinet appear to strangulate sections of the Police Force and we can no longer rely on the outcome of police investigations.
“Let a commission of inquiry undertake the appropriate investigation and refer any matters that might be criminal to the police for prosecution.
“I urge the acting Prime Minister to close his ears to the protestations of his ministers, and listen to and act for the people.”
Sir Mekere said: “The (acting) Prime Minister has the sole power and authority to establish a commission of inquiry.
“Mr Abal, Papua New Guineans await your action.”