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PNG Strikes Deal On Slush Fund Use

by Isaac Nicholas

Source: The National (PNG)

MPs Will Get Money Only After Guidelines Are Set:

PORT MORESBY: Slush funds will not be disbursed to members of Parliament next year until proper guidelines are in place for accountability and transparency, according to an agreement reached between the Government and the World Bank, the National reports.

The World Bank had been asked to provide a framework so that mechanisms are in place by Nov 30, before the Budget session, that would provide for transparency and accountability of the funds.

Planning and Implementation Minister Moi Avei said yesterday that there had been thorough discussions about the Rural Development Fund.

Mr Avei said: "Yes, there had been thorough discussion about the Rural Development fund, the Prime Minister in his opening statement made it very clear that he would be seeking the World Bank assistance to develop a framework so there is transparency and accountability."

He said the Government and the donor community had agreed that development must take place in the district and village level and an attempt to change that current role of the development program to a more planned program as with the District Development Program was a start in the right direction.

"When Parliament resumes on Nov 30, we will be telling the people of Papua New Guinea the mechanisms of accountability and transparency, so that the new guidelines for this expenditure will be brought down along with this budget," Mr Avei said.

Klaus Rohland, World Bank Country Director for PNG and Pacific Islands, who chaired the Consultative Group meeting, indicated also that the framework for the guidelines would not be ready by Nov 30 and that the Government had agreed that there would be no disbursement until the guidelines were in place.

Mr Rohland said the Rural Development Program service delivery mechanism was unique to PNG but as with everything it needed to have accountability and transparency so that people knew how much money was spent where.

He said in Nepal where similar funds are in place, every member of Parliament would give an account to Parliament every month on how the money was spent and where.

"The best control, the best accountability for this system is really control through the people. And we would want the Government to assist develop a scheme that would just achieve that," Mr Rohland said.

He said that was only the first half of the issue.

"The other issue is how (you) would reconcile funding out of this DDP or RDF with the recurrent maintenance budget .."

Article provided by the Journalism Programmme, University of the South Pacific. Pasifik Nius.

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