3 BILLION KINA LOST OR STOLEN UNDER O'NIELL, HIS POLITICIANS AND CRONIES

by MICHAEL PASSINGAN
 
More than K3 billion a year is likely being stolen and wasted by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, his politicians, and their public service and private sector cronies.

Over the five-year life of the O’Neill regime, they have likely stolen or wasted more than K15 billion.

These estimates are based on figures made public by the Prime Minister himself, Works Minister Francis Awesa and the head of Task Force Sweep, Sam Koim.

They demonstrate the enormous cost to the nation and the people of Papua New Guinea of O’Neill’s corruption and incompetence.

They show that the rate of theft and other forms of corruption and waste under Peter O’Neill continues to increase.

If O’Neill and his cronies had not stolen or misused K15 billion, Papua New Guinea would not be suffering from the current economic crisis.

If the O’Neill regime had acted honestly, responsibly and competently, the decline in national development and service delivery could have been reversed.

Instead, there has been no significant and lasting improvement in human development indicators, and the delivery of essential services such as health, education, power and water continue to decline.

In recent weeks the Prime Minister’s financial crisis has resulted in huge cuts to departmental allocations, and more is to come in the proposed Supplementary Budget next month.

Government has come to a virtual standstill.

The nation cannot afford more cuts to service delivery to the people. That will only hasten the fall in living standards experienced under O’Neill.

In 2010, Papua New Guinea was ranked 137th in the United Nations Human Development Index. Under O’Neill, its ranking had fallen to 157th in 2014.

The 2014 UN Human Development Report on PNG is a devastating criticism of the service delivery and development effort of the O’Neill Government.

It says poverty levels do not appear to have changed significantly since 1996 despite an economy that has grown at almost 6.5% per annum over the past decade.

During the five years of the O’Neill Government, economic growth has averaged 8% a year.

Yet the Prime Minister, despite his constant barrage of rhetoric and spin, has not been able to translate that into a better way of life for all citizens.

If ranked by the education and health components of the

Human Development Index measurements alone, PNG would be ranked even lower, indicating that outside of economic growth, development outcomes have been poor.

Papua New Guinea will not meet any of the universal Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the end of this year, thanks to O’Neill’s waste and corruption

And most of the nationally-adjusted goals set by the O’Neill Government are unlikely to be met.

Worst of all, while the Prime Minister spends millions and millions of kina on foreign advisers, foreign spin-doctors and an army of facebook trolls led by foreigners, the health of the nation deteriorates daily.

For example the UN report cites indications of very poor and possibly worsening maternal health in PNG.

Department of Health data indicates that the level of antenatal care has declined in the last few years in all regions, except in the Highlands region where it has slightly increased, the report says.

So where has the money for social and economic development gone?

During the opening ceremony for the Kumul Overpass recently, the Prime Minister said K8 billion had gone missing from trust accounts between 2002 and 2010 – that is one billion kina a year.

Awesa estimated in mid-2013 that approximately K9 billion was missing from trust accounts between 2007 and 2011 – just under K2 billion a year.

Koim estimated in late 2012 that almost half of the K7.6 billion development budget for the period 2009 to 2011 had gone missing – K2.5 billion a year.

The figures can be confirmed by careful scrutiny of the Budget papers each year, notably the section on Trust Accounts in Volume One.

These estimates relate to the Somare regime’s term of office, in which the Prime Minister played a prominent role as Finance Minister, Works Minister and Public Service Minister.

But his thievery began even earlier than that – starting when he was head of Finance Pacific and PNGBC, and continuing with his convicted criminal adviser Jimmy Maladina and NPF.

Allowing for some duplication between the Development Budget funds missing and the Trust account funds missing, an overall average estimate for annual theft and wastage by the O’Neill regime would be K3 billion a year.

Based on those estimates, for the duration of O’Neill’s term in office of five years, it is fair to say that he and his cronies have stolen K15 billion.

But that is likely to be a conservative estimate. That money was stolen by the Somares and their cronies (including the Prime Minister and others) when corruption had not reached the levels achieved by O’Neill.

O’Neill is advised by some of the most corrupt people in the country, including his chief of staff Isaac Lupari, who is recommended for prosecution by the Finance Commission of Inquiry, Jimmy Maladina, the convicted criminal, and Jakob Weiss, who played a leading role in the Prime Minister’s illegal UBS loan and the illegal deal to buy gensets for Lae and Port Moresby from the shady LR Group of Israel.

His lawyers include Jimmy Maladina’s Pacific Legal Group, Tiffany Twivey, named in the MYEFO report as being paid K1.75 million out of the Treasury Secretary’s slush fund, and Greg Sheppard, the expatriate legal expert on money laundering.

Another indicator that the theft of K22.5 billion under O’Neill may be conservative is the number and size of deals done during his term of Government. For example there are the Chinese EXIM bank loan of K6 billion and the illegal K3.5 billion UBS loan. Furthermore, the Government is said to be considering an international bond issue, which will also include at the very least inflated fees for the usual multitude of parasite lawyers and other advisers used by the Prime Minister.

It is logical, and well recognized by international corruption-busters, that in highly corrupt countries the more deals that are done and the bigger the deals inevitably means bigger profits for the corrupt and a corresponding loss for the nation and ordinary citizens.

Another important factor is that the more deals done overseas, the harder it is to follow money trails and identify the corrupt beneficiaries. It is not only the number and size of overseas loans done under the O’Neill regime that is noticeable. It is also the number and size of contracts – especially to Chinese companies - that have gone to overseas companies.

Adding to the surge of corruption under O’Neill has been the avoidance of due process in the awarding of contracts. The is evident in the Genset scam with LR Group of Israel, contracts being awarded to other cronies, contracts going to companies in which the Prime Minister is a shareholder, contracts being paid through slush funds such as the Treasury Secretary’s Advance, and other sources.

The result is such blatantly corrupt contracts such as the K77 million Gordons access road recently completed by Global Constructions. The road is less than 500 metres long.

The current Transparency International corruption ranking names PNG as one of the most corrupt nations on earth, with a ranking of 145 out of 175.

O’Neill has become so concerned about official threats to his corruption that he has starved Task Force Sweep of funding, and has through puppet Police Commissioners Geoffrey Vaki and Garry Baki maintained a constant assault – legal and physical – on the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate and members of the Finance Intelligence Unit

He has attacked the independence of the Ombudsman Commission and the judiciary to try to prevent action against his own corruption and that of his Ministerial colleagues and his cronies.

He has appointed wantoks, cronies and yes-men to positions of power and influence within the public sector and State-Owned Corporations to ensure that his corruption and mismanagement is hidden from official and public scrutiny.

O'Neill will deny to his dying days that there is any corruption. But that would be just more of his lies. If he had nothing to hide, then why aren't the public accounts properly audited like honest businesses?

It's obvious, because if the accounts were properly audited, then they would show massive corruption, massive liabilities and massive losses. They would show O'Neill for the fraud and thief that he is.

Peter O’Neill has turned Papua New Guinea from a vibrant and free parliamentary democracy with a future full of hope and promise into a private piggy bank where nothing is left for grassroots Papua New Guineans and the nation is now a financial

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