By PNG Echo
It was over two years ago that the allegations were made. They were specific and they were detailed – naming names and providing back up evidence in the form of National Capital District Commission (NCDC) financial statements.
All the allegations and evidence were published in 2011 by website, PNG Exposed.
In the frame was Powes Parkop, Governor of the National Capital District, his City Manager, Leslie Alu and Financial Advisor, Augustine Ravi.
The ‘Internal Audit’ from where the allegations emanated, was addressed to David Conn, Chairman NCDC Audit Committee. It was marked as Ultra Vires (without authority) – it was not an official report. It was by an anonymous whistleblower, whose identity to this day remains unknown. On the first page of the report the author told of his “fear of reprisal” and hence the need for anonymity.
The allegations therein involved misuse of NCDC funds to the possible illegal enrichment of the Governor, his City Manager and his Financial Advisor. This was done by the wanton and arbitrary awarding of lucrative contracts to Parkop’s alleged political ally and now Member for Moresby South Open and Minister for Sports and Pacific Games, Justin Tkatchenko – aka the PNG Gardener (and/or his companies). Other companies associated with Parkop’s Financial Advisor, Augustine Ravi are said to have also wrongly benefited, including Agility, Autozeal and 15 Mile Smash Repairs who the author claims are all owned by Indian nationals, friends and acquaintances of Ravi.
Fresh from absorbing the implications of the Commission of Inquiry, Finance Department, this writer had an uncanny feeling of dèjà vu while examining this report.
In both cases, it’s alleged that official procedure was not followed – leaving the system open to abuse. And, allegedly, abused it was.
In the NCDC, usurping the need for three quotes for works commissioned (together with many other statutory requirements), was the use of Certificates of Expediency (COE’s), which the author claims are meant only to be used in a state of emergency or a natural disaster. These were issued at the discretion and pleasure of Governor Parkop to by-pass procedures that would have taken the decision out of his hands.
Drawing another parallel with The COI Finance Department was the establishment (alleged) of a ‘slush fund’.
In the case of the NCDC, funds from the former Community and Social Services Fund that were supposed to be used for “…Women. Church and Youth development in the City suburbs…were diverted into the Centrally Controlled Funds and the Special Project Funds…for the Governor’s discretional (sic) use.”
And he used that discretion to pay out on contracts he awarded to friends, colleagues and acquaintances. (The accounts back this assertion.)
Governor Parkop, in responding to these allegations, failed to address the detailed nature of the report, instead concentrating on who was behind it and it’s authenticity as an official Internal Audit, (which it never claimed to be.)
Parkop claimed he was being targeted by his political enemies and opponents and a Jonathon Oata came in for a particular drubbing, with Parkop claiming to have commenced defamation proceedings against him.
On talking to Oata earlier this month, he denies he had anything to do with the report. (Backing his assertion is that I received the information from another source entirely.)
And there were still more denials. The NCDC denied authorship of the report, as did the Chairman of the Internal Audit Committee, David Conn. Strange, as no one was accusing them of writing it.
They’d all missed the point. The burning question was (and still is) not who wrote the report, or why, but what the report (flush with financial statements backing its assertions) claims.
Parkop asserted strongly in his own defence: “We run a transparent regime and we try as much as possible to follow the law and procedures.” In light of the allegations, in what way, Governor?
He also took pains to point out the achievements of the NCDC, as if the end may justify the means.
It was never good enough.
As with the COI Finance Department, these allegations may be forgotten by the people of Papua New Guinea, but they clearly have not been forgiven…and while there is a chance that similar corruption to that found in the Finance Department could be happening in the NCDC, they won’t be.
Treasurer Don Polye has just handed down Papua New Guinea’s largest budget. With half of this regularly being lost to corruption, it’s undeniable that there are those that are benefiting illegally – corruption is still rife, the money’s going somewhere.
Allegations of corruption, such as these must not go unanswered. Corruption ignored is corruption continued.