JAMES MARAPE'S MENTOR IS PETER O'NEILL WHEN IT COMES TO HALF TRUTHS
UPNG especially was screaming in December that they had no money left to run the university. It was well known that months ago the PNG government had promised a sizeable amount of money to University of Papua New Guinea, PNG University of Technology and University of Goroka to pay for damages and other expenses that were incurred and not budgeted for by the universities as a result of the 2016 student boycott. The declaration that this money would be given to the universities before classes resumed again last September was supposedly told to university heads by Chief Minister Isaac Lupari in private, and in public by Peter O'Neill and other government officials. It was clearly stated in August 2016 and run on EM-TV news that the following amounts would be paid:
UPNG: K12 million
Unitech: K43 million
UOG: K8 million
Unitech: K43 million
UOG: K8 million
In the case of Unitech, this money was essential, being that 4 buildings were burned to the ground in late June 2016, including the all-important mess. When students resumed class, they were met with temporary messing facilities an not nearly enough room to sit indoors and eat, even in the rain.
When the announcement of these payments were made by the government, a cheque for K1 million was presented to UPNG VC Albert Mellam. It appears that this was the first and last payment. Unitech is reported to have switched money around in accounts to even be able to get school started again last September.
Whenever there was talk about the money owed to PNG's 3 universities above, the specific money being talked about was the above K62 million (after the K1 million payment to UPNG is factored in). When the universities were screaming for money to finish out the fiscal year in December, James Marape seemed to imply that all money owed to the universities would be paid in December.
What people outside the universities were not aware of was that the PNG government had fallen months behind in providing even the most basic financial support to the 3 universities. They were not even providing funds for the monthly running costs that are clearly indicated in the PNG government budget. Yet another indication that this government cannot put together a budget it can stick to, that it can no longer keep blaming low commodity prices when these have leveled off, supplementary budgets were issued to supposedly address any miscalculations and still the government cannot honour its commitments. The talk of teachers around the country not being paid, nurses around the country not being paid, and a drastic cut in money allocated generally by the O'Neill government to health and education exceeding 40% since 2015 are neither rumours or gossip. Put together they show a complete breakdown of even the 2016 budget after the supplementary budget was tabled.
We could demand that James Marape come clean and start telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth as to why the promised and supposedly approved K62 million was never received by the 3 universities to commence rebuilding of destroyed and damaged infrastructure. In fact, we DO demand that James Marape start telling the people of PNG the truth. But we know that James Marape is a proud, loyal member of the same government that is infamous for hiding government information - the same government that created Kumul Consolidated Holdings to hide the balance sheets of all the State Owned Enterprises and the same government that has never realised to the public the UBS and Credit Suisse bank loan conditions and collateral that the government agreed to provide in order to receive the loans. We know that the the O'Neill government is the first government in PNG history to hide the findings of the International Monetary Fund's annual report on the PNG economy so that the people of PNG are left in the dark.
Why then would we believe with a straight face that James Marape will tell us why the K62 million owed to the 3 universities was never paid and give a firm schedule when the money will be paid to the universities?
Where's the money, Marape? What did you, Pruaitch and O'Neill do with it?
For shame. Because you are the proud, loyal member of the same government that is allowing tuition to be raised at the 3 universities and drastically cutting back on HECAS scholarships, pushing many students out into the streets. For shame, for shame, because you are covering all this up until you can't keep it secret any longer.
Why must the social media do the work of the government of releasing critical financial infomation that affects the lives of the students, parents and families affiliated with our PNG public universities.
On on top of it all, your government is cutting the 2017 budget allocations to PNG's public universities substantially below the abysmal amount you provided them (late) in 2016.
For shame, for shame, James Marape. For shame, for shame, for shame!