PNG CORONAVIRUS (Covid-19) Controller and Police Comm David Manning says he will not hesitate to conduct criminal investigations into allegations of provincial health authorities (PHAs) abusing funds allocated to fight the pandemic.
“I will wear my police commissioner’s cap to deal with anyone for abusing Covid-19 funds. Such allegations will be treated as criminal,” he added.
At least three allegations of fund abuse have been brought to the attention of Comm Manning.
Documents, whether authentic or not, have surfaced alleging that some K500,000 had been paid to a catering company to provide services at the Rita Flynn isolation centre in Port Moresby.
At press time, it is still unclear whether a hospital or the provincial authority is providing food at the centre.
Comm Manning revealed that he was aware of another two allegations of cases of Covid-19 fund abuse.
“I am looking into and monitoring the use of the funds,” he said, adding that “since Covid-19 operations started last year, I made a personal commitment to disburse public funds responsibly and transparently as much as possible and we have not deviated from that”.
Comm Manning said: “The Covid-19 funds belong to the people. But I am aware that there are some funds being disbursed outside the given transparent protocol and I will be very disappointed if that was the case (K500,000).
“I am also keeping an eye on two other alleged fund abuses.
“We will continue to disburse funds following the right and legal process.
“And if there are (evidences of) fund abuses, I will order criminal police investigations.”
Health secretary and deputy controller Dr Osborne Liko, in expressing similar sentiments, has ordered PHAs to provide acquittals for their campaign against the Covid-19 in their respective provinces before additional funds would be disbursed.
“The Department and National Covid-19 centre (NCC) are the custodian of the governing process and going through the funds of our development partners and the Government,” he said.
“The disbursements from the department to PHAs are accountable with documents and records.
“And now, because of the issues of accountability, we are expecting the PHAs to come forward with the acquittals so that we can disburse the remaining amount to them.
“We understand that there are hotspots in those provinces.
“But at the end of the day, the department, NCC, controller Manning and I will demand full accountability.
“So we are taking full responsibility to get the respective PHAs, chief executive officers to give their acquittals to us before we release the remaining funds.”
Dr Liko said the funds from the Government and development partners were disbursed to PHAs and district development authorities (DDA) nationwide thus far.
“Again we are reminding the DDAs and the PHAs to acquit how they have spent the Covid-19 funds for accountability through the integrated finance management accounting system and other transparent accounting processes through the Treasury and Finance Departments,” he said.
“Any other issues that did not adhere to procurement procedures, we will get a full report like expenditure reports of all personal protection equipment, instruments and other expenses.
“We will compile a comprehensive report and give it to Health Minister Jelta Wong to be presented to the National Executive Council and the Government.”
Meanwhile Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey has announced a K1.745 billion funding for health to address the growing pandemic.
The allocation is a 27 per cent increase of K370 million.
The National / PNG Health News
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