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BPNG To Probe Bougainvilleans' Missing Money Claim

PORT MORESBY: Papua New Guinea's Central Bank governor will investigate claims that Bougainvilleans have lost thousands of kina in savings after commercial banks closed their respective accounts during the crisis, Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta said in Parliament yesterday, the National reports.

The Prime Minister gave the undertaking in response to questions from Member for South Bougainville Michael Laimo, who claimed that commercial banks have closed of accounts of Bougainvilleans totaling over K100,000.

Mr Laimo in a series of questions to the Prime Minister said the people of Bougainville who have accounts with commercial banks before the crisis cannot withdraw their money because their accounts had been closed.

He said: "The people of Bougainville had accounts with commercial banks before the crisis."

He claimed that when the accounts were closed, the people lost their life savings.

Mr Laimo said many of the commercial bank clients in Bougainville have not recovered their money saved with the banks and are frustrated because despite making many inquiries, they were told that they cannot get their money back since there were no records to prove their claims.

"Who will repay their money? It is their savings!" Mr Laimo said.

Meanwhile, Member for Central Bouraginville Sam Akoitai said there is no progress on the road to link the northern tip of Bougainville to the south of the island despite having at least 11 surveys carried out.

He asked in a series of questions to the Works Minister Alfred Pogo whether the National Government would be funding the trunk road in Bougainville, starting at Bonus, at the northern tip of Bougainville, to the south of the island.

Mr Akoitai told parliament that National Works Department officials had surveyed the trunk road for at least 11 times before the Bougainville Crisis. Now that peace has been restored, there should have been some progress on the road.

"The road will give Bougainvilleans hope ... the National Government must complete the road."

Mr Akoitai said construction work currently now done on the trunk road was funded by AusAID and asked if the National Government would include the road project in the 2001 national budget.

Mr Pogo in reply said the Bougainville Crisis forced government departments out of the island and Works Department was one of them.

He said: "Therefore nothing much was done on the island. However, the National Government has given priority to infrastructure and is committed to bring back common services to Bougainville."

The minister referred the question of funding for the road in next year's budget to Sir Mekere, who is also Treasury Minister.


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