25 Mar 2003

PNG government office told to explain missing millions

4:39 pm on 25 March 2003

Papua New Guinea's Rural Development office has been told to provide an explanation for millions of missing dollars.

Jim Hickey, the chairman of parliament's Public Accounts Committee, says money that's been advanced to senior management hasn't been accounted for, vehicles are missing and discretionary funds appear to have been misappropriated.

Mr Hickey says the matter will be referred to the police if the response isn't satisfactory.

"Our main concern is with the accountability of funds, we have given 15 directives to the Office of Rural Development, and given them a set time to reply to our directives, and we'll be looking forward to receiving a full explanation from them."

Mr Hickey says much of the senior management at the office changed at the end of last year and it's those people at whom the allegations are directed.

The new secretary of the office, Valentine Kambori, says the abuse of funds occurred because there were no records or controls in place.